As noted by CNN, if a passport Olympiad was held, then Japan would not only accept it, but also win all the competition. According to the Henley Passport Index, Japan is again at the top of the leaderboard, with its passport offering visa-free entry or visa-on-arrival travel to 193 destinations around the world.
However, a report by Henley & Partners said that in the first quarter of 2021, international mobility was still only 12% of the pre-pandemic level, meaning that “the gap between theoretical and actual travel access provided by even high-ranking passports. remains significant. “
In the real world, Japanese passport holders theoretically have access to less than 80 destinations right now.
The top ten passports remain virtually unchanged as we enter the second half of the year, with Singapore in second place (with 192 visa-free destinations) and South Korea tied for third with Germany (with 191 destinations).
Again, things are a little different in the real world due to the travel restrictions imposed by the pandemic, CNN notes. Singaporean passport holders now have access to less than 75 destinations (equivalent to Kazakhstan’s ranking, which is 74th).
Even countries with very successful COVID-19 vaccine introduction remain bound by travel restrictions. The United States and the United Kingdom share seventh place in the rankings, along with Switzerland, Belgium and New Zealand – their passport strength has steadily declined since holding the top spot in 2014.
In theory, US and UK passport holders could access 187 destinations around the world, but in reality the doors are open to British travelers in fewer than 60 destinations, while the US is only slightly ahead of the UK at 61 destinations.
As usual, most of the remaining top 10 places in the ranking are occupied by the EU countries. In fourth place are Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain; Austria and Denmark in fifth place; while France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden together rank sixth. In terms of freedom of travel, China and the United Arab Emirates have been the greatest successes of the past decade. Since 2011, China has climbed 22 places – from 90th to 68th, and the UAE – from 65th to 15th.
Russia is ranked 51st with 119 visa-free destinations.
Christian H. Kälin, chairman of Henley & Partners, says that while we don’t know how long travel restrictions will last, it’s clear that global mobility will be seriously hampered, at least until the end of this year: doubts about the ability to cope with the global crisis with the subsequent adoption of more forward-looking priorities. “
He adds: “Increased isolationism and de-globalization will undoubtedly have serious consequences, including further damage to the global economy and a significant reduction in global mobility.”
While travel abroad remains less than 10% of pre-COVID levels and is largely regional due to the coronavirus pandemic, passport inequality is also growing in this new era.
Japanese passport holders have visa-free or on-arrival access to 167 more destinations than Afghan citizens, who are at the bottom of the rankings, as they can only visit 26 places without obtaining a prior visa. This is the largest gap between countries since the index was created, according to Henley & Partners.
“The widespread adoption of Covid passports appears to be an inevitable reality for those who have access to them,” says Robert Matzeevski, CEO of the SIP Medical Family Office in Switzerland. “Even if a legal obligation to obtain a Covid passport is unlikely in most democracies, its absence is likely to result in de facto restrictions on your freedom, whether it be travel or daily activities.”
Due to global differences in vaccine access and deployment programs, “covid passports will undoubtedly further increase passport inequality around the world,” says Christian Keilin.
* Best passports in 2021:
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, Great Britain, USA (187).
8.Greece, Malta, Norway, Czech Republic (186)
9. Australia, Canada (185)
10. Hungary (184)
* Worst passports for travel (visa-free or pay-on-arrival access in less than 40 countries):
108. North Korea (39 destinations).
109. Nepal (38)
110. Palestinian Territories (37)
112. Yemen (33)
113. Pakistan (32).
114. Syria (29)
115. Iraq (28)
116. Afghanistan (26).