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A trio of Asian passports offer their holders greater global travel freedom than those of any other countries, according to a new quarterly report released by London-based global citizenship and residence advisory firm Henley & Partners.
Japanese citizens enjoy visa-free or visa-on-demand access to a record 193 destinations around the world, just ahead of Singapore and South Korea whose citizens can freely visit 192.
Global travel is now at around 75% of pre-pandemic levels, according to the latest release by Henley Passport Index, which is based on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
International passenger demand for air travel in the Asia-Pacific region is still less than a fifth of pre-Covid levels, according to the latest statistics from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
By comparison, says the Henley Passport Index report, the markets in Europe and North America have recovered to around 60% of their previous travel mobility levels.
Europe dominates again
Below the Asian top three, a glut of European countries sit near the top of the leaderboard. Germany and Spain are tied on 190 destinations, followed by Finland, Italy, Luxembourg on 189.
Then there’s Austria, Denmark, Netherlands and Sweden all tied in fifth place, while France, Ireland, Portugal and United Kingdom are at No. 6.
New Zealand and the United States make an appearance at No. 7, alongside Belgium, Norway, Switzerland and the Czech Republic.
Afghan nationals sit at the bottom of the index once again, and can access just 27 countries without requiring a visa in advance.
However, as travel restrictions ease, there are hopeful signs that lower-ranking passports are beginning to recover clout.
Indian passport holders now have similar travel freedom to that they enjoyed pre-pandemic, says the report, with unrestricted access to 57 destinations around the world (compared just 23 destinations in 2020).
Due to the invasion of Ukraine, Russian passport holders are more cut off from the rest of the world than ever before.
The index does not take temporary restrictions or airspace closures into account, so while the Russian passport currently sits at 50th place on the index, with a visa-free or visa-free on arrival score of 119, the reality is that Russian citizens are effectively barred from accessing many of those destinations.
The best passports to hold in 2020 are:
1. Japan (193 destinations)
2. Singapore, South Korea (192 destinations)
3. Germany, Spain (190 destinations)
4. Finland, Italy, Luxembourg (189 destinations)
5. Austria, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden (188 destinations)
6. France, Ireland, Portugal, United Kingdom (187 destinations)
7. Belgium, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, United States, Czech Republic (186 destinations)
8. Australia, Canada, Greece, Malta (185 destinations)
9. Hungary, Poland (184 destinations)
10. Lithuania, Slovakia (183 destinations)
The worst passports to hold
Several countries around the world have visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 40 or fewer countries. These include:
102. North Korea (40 destinations)
103. Nepal, Palestinian territory (38 destinations)
104. Somalia (35 destinations)
105. Yemen (34 destinations)
106. Pakistan (32 destinations)
107. Syria (30 destinations)
108. Iraq (29 destinations)
109. Afghanistan (27 destinations)
116. Afghanistan (26)
Henley & Partners’ list is one of several indexes created by financial firms to rank global passports according to the access they provide to their citizens.
The Henley Passport Index covers 227 travel destinations. It is updated in real time throughout the year, as and when visa policy changes come into effect.
Arton Capital’s Passport Index takes into consideration the passports of 193 United Nations member countries and six territories – ROC Taiwan, Macau (SAR China), Hong Kong (SAR China), Kosovo, Palestinian Territory and the Vatican. Territories annexed to other countries are excluded.
Its 2020 index puts the UAE on top with a “visa-free score” of 178, followed by Germany, Finland, Luxembourg and Spain with 171.