Passports present a problem for many ASEAN HNWIs

ASEAN passport strength is not strong

For wealthy citizens of Singapore and Malaysia, there is no need to worry about their passports. They are ranked as two of the strongest in the world, according to Arton Capital’s Global Passport Power Rank 2018. However, those from the Philippines and Vietnam have relatively weak passports that can restrict travel.

Despite growing wealth, passports in several Southeast Asian countries rank among the weakest globally. Not only does this make simple travel to places such as the EU difficult and costly, but it also hinders overseas educational and work opportunities.

This has seen many high net worth ASEAN passport holders take advantage of Golden Visa real estate investment programmes in Spain, Greece and Portugal. Others look to provide their children with educational opportunities by investing in real estate in Australia or the UK.

For many HNWIs in Southeast Asia, a second passport via real estate investment can be the key to unlocking the world.

ASEAN passport rankings


Global passport strength: 1st

Visa-free travel: 163 countries

Notable countries with visa requirements: Russia, Saudi Arabia

With visa-free travel to the EU and a Visa Waiver Program in place with the US, Singaporeans have freedom of movement unmatched by any other country.


Global passport strength: 6th

Visa-free travel: 159 countries

Notable countries with visa requirements: USA, Canada

The Malaysian passport is deemed to be just as strong as the US and Swiss passports. Holders have visa-free access to the EU and can apply for Electronic Travel Authority to visit Australia.


Global passport strength: 57th

Visa-free travel: 76 countries

Notable countries with visa requirements: UK, Australia

The Thai passport grants holders visa-free travel to Russia, Turkey and Japan, but the EU requires a visa. The visa process for Thais looking to travel to the USA is known to be very strict.


Global passport strength: 61st

Visa-free travel: 71 countries

Notable countries with visa requirements: Japan, EU

Hong Kong and Morocco are among the countries Indonesians can travel to without a visa. However, nearly all of Europe, including non-EU countries, requires a visa as well as Australia.

The Philippines

Global passport strength: 68th

Visa-free travel: 63 countries

Notable countries with visa requirements: South Korea, USA

Taiwan is one of the few places Filipinos can visit visa free. Unlike other countries, citizens of the Philippines have far more opportunities to work overseas and employment visas are easier to come by.


Global passport strength: 80th

Visa-free travel: 51 countries

Notable countries with visa requirements: USA, EU

The passports of Vietnam and Laos rank in the same spot in terms of strength. The Laos passport does offer visa-free access to Russia and Mongolia while Vietnamese passport holders can travel to Chile without a visa.

This article on ASEAN passport strength can be found in Dot Property Magazine’s Southeast Asia Wealth And Outbound Investment Report 2018. Click here to read it.