The latest results from the Henley Passport Index — the original ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa — show that cross-border travel continues to be significantly obstructed. Although some progress was made between January and March 2021, international mobility has been restored to only 12 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.
Japan retains its hold on the number one spot on the Henley Passport Index, said the press release, which is based on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) with a theoretical visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 193. While the dominance of European passports in the top ten has been a given for most of the index’s 16-year history, the pre-eminence Japan, Singapore, and South Korea has become the new normal. Singapore remains in second place, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 192, and South Korea shares joint third place with Germany, each with a score of 191.
When compared to the actual travel access available to holders of top-scoring passports, the picture looks different: holders of Japanese passports have access to fewer than 80 destinations (equivalent to the passport power of Saudi Arabia, which sits in 71st place) while holders of Singaporean passports can access fewer than 75 destinations (equivalent to Kazakhstan, which sits in 74th place).
There’s a similarly gloomy outlook in countries with highly successful COVID-19 vaccine rollouts: the United Kingdom and the United States currently share joint seventh place on the index with their passport holders theoretically able to access 187 destinations around the world. Under current travel bans, UK passport holders have suffered a dramatic drop of over 70 per cent in their travel freedom, and can currently access fewer than 60 destinations globally — a passport power equivalent to that of Uzbekistan on the index. US passport holders have seen a 67 per cent decrease in their global mobility, with access to just 61 destinations worldwide — a passport power equivalent to Rwanda.
Dr. Juerg Steffen, CEO of Henley & Partners, said in the release, “Ensuring future access to multiple residence options and/or having dual citizenship has become even more essential for entrepreneurs and investors and their families as a means to mitigate volatility and reduce their exposure to risk at a national, a regional, and global level.”