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The world’s most powerful passports for 2021

Newsman: Global citizenship and residence advisory firm Henley & Partners has released its quarterly report on the world’s most desirable passports. The latest report by London-based global citizenship and residence advisory firm Henley & Partners says Japan and Singapore Passport ranked top in 2021 in the world as in theory, they are able to travel visa-free to 192 destinations. But EU countries dominate the top of the list as usual, with Austria and Denmark in fourth place and France, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden in fifth place. Germany has the highest-ranking European passport.

The firm’s Henley Passport Index, based on exclusive data provided by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), has been regularly monitoring the world’s most travel-friendly passports since 2006.

The firm’s Henley Passport Index also says, the global gap in travel freedoms has never been wider in the index’s 16-year history.  Increasing travel barriers that have been introduced over the past 18 months of the Covid pandemic have resulted in the widest global mobility gap.

Henley Passport Index doesn’t take temporary restrictions into account, so leaving actual current travel access aside, holders of the passports at the top of its ranking — Japan and Singapore — are able, in theory, to travel visa-free to 192 destinations.

That’s 166 more destinations than Afghan nationals, who sit at the bottom of the index of 199 passports, and can access just 26 countries without requiring a visa in advance. Down the top 10, the ranking remains virtually unchanged as we enter the final quarter of 2021. South Korea is tied with Germany in second place (with a score of 190) and Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain are all together in third place (with a score of 189).

New Zealand, which announced this week that it was moving away from its Covid-19 elimination strategy in favor of a vaccine certificate system, is in sixth place alongside Belgium and Switzerland.

The United States and the United Kingdom, which held the top spot together back in 2014, are now more modestly placed in the rankings. They are at No. 7, alongside the Czech Republic, Greece, Malta and Norway, with visa-free or visa-on-demand access to 185 destinations.

Australia and Canada are in eighth place, Hungary is ninth, and Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia have together broken into the No.10 spot, with a score of 182.

The best passports to hold in 2021 are:

1. Japan, Singapore (192 destinations)

2. Germany, South Korea (190)

3. Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain (189)

4. Austria, Denmark (188)

5. France, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden (187)

6. Belgium, New Zealand, Switzerland (186)

7. Czech Republic, Greece, Malta, Norway, United Kingdom, United States (185)

8. Australia, Canada (184)

9. Hungary (183)

10. Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia (182)

The worst passports to hold according to the index those have visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to fewer than 40 countries  include:

109. North Korea (39 destinations)

110. Nepal and Palestinian territories (37)

111. Somalia (34)

112. Yemen (33)

113. Pakistan (31)

114. Syria (29)

115. Iraq (28)

116. Afghanistan (26)

Henley & Partner’s 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.

The Henley & Partners report points to “growing inequalities” and makes the suggestion that “restrictive policies initially introduced to contain the spread of Covid-19 are now being conveniently applied to contain mobility from the global south.”

Christian H. Kaelin, chair of Henley & Partners and creator of the passport index concept, says that these decisions could 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,” he says. “Resourceful countries need to futureproof their economies by attracting and welcoming the upcoming generation.”

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