London-based global citizenship and residence advisory firm, Henley & Partners have released its annual ‘Henley Passport Index’ which has top ranked Japan and Singapore as the passport of both of these countries allows visa-free travel to 192 countries hence making them their passport most powerful among other nations. South Korea and Germany share the second position with access to 190 visa-free destinations.
India’s passport this year ranks 90, which is a drop of six spots compared to last year when it was ranked 84. Indian passport holders are allowed visa-free travel to 58 nations. Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, and Yemen are among the worth (least powerful) passports. Afghanistan passport allows visa-free travel to 26 countries which is the least in the world. The index has not considered temporary restrictions imposed by the majority of countries due to a variety of reasons including the Covid-19 pandemic.
The latest results and research from the Henley Passport Index show how barriers to entry over the past 18 months of the pandemic have resulted in a widest global mobility gap, with passport holders from top ranked countries, Japan and Singapore able to travel visa free to 166 more destinations than Afghan nationals, who sit at the bottom of the index with access to just 26 countries without requiring a visa in advance.Based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the index, which ranks all of the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa, shows that countries in the global north with high-ranking passports have enforced some of the most stringent inbound Covid-19-related travel restrictions, while many countries with lower-ranking passports have relaxed their borders without seeing this openness reciprocated. This has created an ever-widening gap in travel freedom even for fully vaccinated travellers from countries at the lower end of the passport power ranking who remain locked out of most of the world.
Research and expert analysis commissioned by international residence and citizenship by investment advisory firm Henley & Partners indicates that this gap is likely to increase, as pandemic-related restrictions become entrenched and amplify the already significant global mobility divide between advanced and developing economies. Japan, which shares top spot on the index with Singapore due to their visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 192, currently bars almost all foreign nationals from entry. Germany, which sits alongside South Korea in joint-2nd place with a visa-free/visa-on arrival score of 190, currently restricts nearly 100 countries from entry.At the lower end of the index, Egypt, ranked 97th, currently has no travel restrictions in place, yet its citizens can access just 51 destinations around the world without acquiring a visa in advance. Similarly, Kenya, which ranks 77th, has no travel bans in place, yet its passport holders are able to access just 72 destinations visa-free. In response to recent developments, experts suggest that restrictive policies initially introduced to contain the spread of Covid-19 are now being conveniently applied to contain mobility from the global south. Recent adjustments to the Covid-ban policies of the UK and the US, which share 7th place on the index with a visa-free score of 185, have done little to alter what experts perceive to be growing inequalities when it comes to travel freedom and access. Nor has their refusal to recognize vaccines administered across Africa, South America, and South Asia.
Commenting on the developments, Dr Christian H Kaelin, Chairman of Henley & Partners and the inventor of the passport index concept, notes that these decisions are likely to have far-reaching consequences. “If we want to restart the global economy, it is critical that developed nations encourage inward migration flows, as opposed to persisting with outmoded restrictions. Resourceful countries need to futureproof their economies by attracting and welcoming the upcoming generation. It is pivotal that advanced nations consider revising their current somewhat exclusive approach to the rest of the world and reform and adapt to overcome the competition and not miss the opportunity to embrace the potential.”
The Henley Passport Index is one of the most rigorous and sophisticated measure of global access. It goes beyond a simple ranking of passports to provide an in-depth picture of travel freedom, including which countries travellers can access with which type of visa, how passports have changed over the years, how one nation’s passport compares to other passports.