The world’s most powerful passports, pandemic edition

The latest Henley Passport Index shows how country-based travel restrictions have changed the passport pecking order.

By Bloomberg News, July 8 2021
The world’s most powerful passports, pandemic edition

Singapore may have one of the world’s most-powerful passports but that’s little comfort as Covid curbs travel to many destinations.

In fact, under current restrictions, a Singapore passport is less useful than one from Namibia, Belarus, Kazakhstan or Malawi, according to the latest Henley Passport Index.

An authoritative ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa, the index was developed by London-based global citizenship and residence advisory firm Henley & Partners is and based on data from the International Air Transport Association.

In theory, a Singapore passport gets you visa-free, or visa-on-arrival, access to 192 nations, the best score of any country globally after Japan, whose passport ranks No. 1 with hassle-free entry into 193 places.

In practice, taking into account coronavirus limitations, it would permit such entry to only 70 destinations, the data show, equal to having a passport from the Dominican Republic.

There’s a similarly gloomy outlook even in countries with more advanced Covid vaccine rollouts.

The U.K. and the U.S. share joint 7th place on the index, with passport holders theoretically able to access 187 destinations around the world.

Under current travel bans, however, U.K. passport holders can access fewer than 60 destinations – a passport power equivalent to that of Uzbekistan. US passport holders have a passport power equivalent to Rwanda.

Australia and Canada both scraped into ninth position on the leaderboard, sandwiched between the likes of Greece, Malta and Norway at number eight and Hungary at number ten.

Vaccination passports

A new contender in the passport power stakes are so-called ‘vaccination passports’, based on digital health apps such as IATA’s Travel Pass.

However, due to the widely different uptakes of vaccines in countries around the world, "Covid passports will no doubt further widen passport inequality worldwide," suggests Henley & Partners Chairman Christian Kaelin.

"Widespread adoption of Covid passports appears to be an imminent reality for those able to access them," says Robert Maciejewski, CEO of SIP Medical Family Office in Switzerland, in Henley's report.

"Even if a legal obligation to obtain a Covid passport is unlikely in most democratic countries, not having one will probably result in de facto restrictions of your freedom, whether it comes to travel or to daily routine activities."

The best passports to hold in 2021 are:

1. Japan (193 destinations)

2. Singapore (192)

3. Germany, South Korea (191)

4. Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain (190)

5. Austria, Denmark (189)

6. France, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden (188)

7. Belgium, New Zealand, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States

8. Czech Republic, Greece, Malta, Norway

9. Australia, Canada (185)

10. Hungary (184)

Additional reporting by David Flynn

This article is published under license from Bloomberg Media: the original article can be viewed here

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