Due to the enormous ramifications of the global pandemic on travel worldwide, the gap in citizens’ freedom to travel anywhere they wish is the largest in decades, and how the vaccine rollout goes will foretell how freely many can leave their countries to travel abroad. Greek passports are now eight in the world’s measured by the number of countries their holders may visit visa-free.
The great disparities between countries over vaccination rates will only make these situations more stark, according to a new report on the world’s most powerful passports, which is issued every year.
Pandemic restrictions not taken into account
The Henley Passport Index, which has been issued annually since 2006 — does not take into account the plethora of travel restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic.
For this reason, its findings appear quite skewed, showing Japan, which is struggling with the third wave of the coronavirus and has completely banned all foreign spectators from the upcoming Olympics, in first place.
This marks the second year that Japan has nabbed first place, since Japanese passport holders have visa-free, or visa-free access upon arrival, in a total of 193 countries around the world, and that is the only metric used in the study.
Henley & Partners agreed that “It’s somewhat ironic that Japan ranks first, although it recently made the difficult decision to ban foreign spectators from attending the Tokyo Olympics, which are scheduled to start in July.”
The Japanese have access to 167 more countries than do Afghans, who linger at the bottom of the list. Afghans can only visit just 26 countries without a visa. This comprises the largest gap between the two countries since the list began to be published.
Greek passport in eight place
Singapore’s citizens remain in second place, with a total of 192 countries that they can visit; South Korea shares third place with the nation of Germany, with a total of 191 countries that can be visited visa-free.
As has become the norm, most of the remaining slots in the top ten of the passport list are occupied by EU countries, including Greece, which shares eighth place with Norway, Malta and the Czech Republic.
All these passports provide visa-free access to 186 countries; they are one spot behind the US and the British.
Canada and Australia occupy the next ranking in terms of visa-free travel.
The United States and Britain shared first place in 2014, but the power of their passports has since fallen since that time, with the most travel freedom in the past decade recorded by China.
China rose 22 places from 90th to 68th and the UAE from 65th to the 15th during that same period.
“With the advancement of the vaccination campaign in some rich, developed economies such as the EU, the US, Britain and the UAE, global mobility will soon be possible for some,” admits Henley & Partners.
The firm said that “for citizens in “emerging and emerging economies where vaccination programs are much slower and whose passports tend to offer much less travel freedom in general, the future does not look so rosy.”
The top ten most powerful passports are issued by the following countries, according to Henley:
1. Japan (with a total of 193 countries that can be visited visa-free)
2. Singapore (192)
3. Germany, South Korea (191)
4. Italy, Spain, Finland, Luxembourg (190)
5. Denmark, Austria (189)
6. France, Sweden, Portugal, Ireland, the Netherlands (188)
7. USA, Britain, Switzerland, Belgium, New Zealand (187)
8. Greece, Norway, Malta, Czech Republic (186)
9. Canada, Australia (185)
10. Slovakia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary (183)