For the third year in a row, Japan has the world’s most “powerful” passport, which allows visa-free access to more countries (191) than any other, according to the latest Henley & Partners Passport Index ranking.
The report, however, did not take current coronavirus-prompted travel restrictions into account.
Analysts also observed a shift over the last few years toward countries in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, which are now “firmly established” in the top spots: Singapore took second place in the report (190 countries); South Korea took third (189 countries) and New Zealand and Australia were ranked 7th and 8th (185 and 184, respectively).
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It should be noted that several countries can share rankings. For instance, both South Korea and Germany sit at No. 3 in the latest index. And four countries’ passports – from Finland, Italy, Luxembourg and Spain – all share the No. 4 spot.
The U.S., meanwhile, shares the No. 7 spot with Switzerland, the U.K., Norway, Belgium and New Zealand, each of which grant visa-free access to 184 countries.
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But, as noted by Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, the chairman of Henley & Partners, this doesn’t mean that U.S. citizens – or citizens of any country with COVID travel restrictions – are currently able to visit that many other nations.
“Over the past seven years, the US passport has fallen from the number one spot to 7th place, a position it currently shares with the UK. Due to pandemic-related travel constraints, travelers from both countries currently face major restrictions from over 105 countries, with US passport holders able to travel to fewer than 75 destinations, while UK passport holders currently have access to fewer than 70,” Kaelin said in a press release.
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Meanwhile, in October 2020, global financial advisory firm Arton Capital released an arguably more accurate look at the current “mobility score” of the world’s passports, with New Zealand’s taking the top spot (with access to 129 countries at the time) and the U.S. in 21st (with access to 92 countries). At present, even those numbers have shifted, with Germany now ranking first with a “mobility score” of 134, and the United States in 19th place with a score of 103.