Friday Jan 08, 2021
As countries across the world are entering new coronavirus restrictions adversely affecting the tourism industry, the Henley Passport Index has released its latest report ranking the strongest and weakest passports.
The Henley Passport Index is based on data provided by the International Air Transport Authority (IATA) and covers 199 passports and 227 travel destinations.
Asian residents continue to have the world's most powerful travel documents.
As the report doesn't take temporary restrictions into account, Japan tops the list of the strongest passports, offering visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 191 destinations around the world.
The best passports to hold in 2021 are of Japan with 191 destinations, Singapore with 190, South Korea and Germany with 189, Italy, Finland, Spain and Luxembourg with 18, and Denmark along with Austria with 187 destinations.
Followed by Denmark are Sweden, France, Portugal, Netherlands and Ireland with 186 destinations.
Switzerland, United States, United Kingdom, Norway, Belgium, New Zealand stand at the seventh spot with 185 destinations, followed by Greece, Malta, Czech Republic and Australia with 184 destinations.
Several countries around the world have visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to fewer than 40 countries.
So the worst passports to hold include North Korea with 39 destinations on the 103rd rank, Libya and Nepal with 38 destinations, 105 Palestinian territories with 37, and Somalia along with Yemen on the 106th rank with 33 destinations to offer visa-free arrival.
Pakistan ranks 107th on the list with 32 destinations for the second time in a row, followed by Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, India, and Tajikistan.
The UAE now holds 16th place on the ranking, with visa-free/visa-on-arrival access to 173 destinations. That's an incredible rise from its position back when the index began in 2006, when the country was placed 62nd, with access to just 35 destinations.
"Just a year ago all indications were that the rates of global mobility would continue to rise, that travel freedom would increase, and that holders of powerful passports would enjoy more access than ever before," says Christian H. Kaelin, chair of Henley & Partners and the inventor of the passport index concept.
The US, UK and EU countries traditionally ruled the roost, but Henley & Partners in its release said that "experts suggest that the APAC region's position of strength will continue as it includes some of the first countries to begin the process of recovering from the pandemic."
Coronavirus case numbers are currently rising steeply in both the US and the UK, with the UK being the centre of a fast-spreading new variant.
The temporary travel restrictions related to this mean that — while the UK and the US are placed seventh on Henley's list — the reality is that US passport holders are currently able to travel to fewer than 75 destinations, while UK passport holders have access to fewer than 70.