(CNN) – The gap in freedom to travel is the largest in decades and differences in access to vaccination between countries could make matters worse, a new report said.
With the index ignoring temporary constraints, Japan is once again at the top of the ranking. With his passport, you can reach 193 destinations around the world without a visa or visa-free on arrival.
“With extensive travel restrictions still in place around the world, any level of international freedom to travel remains theoretical,” said Henley & Partners, the UK-based citizenship consultancy behind the index, in a statement.
“It is a bit ironic that Japan comes first but recently made the difficult decision to exclude overseas viewers from the planned Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which are set to begin in July.”
Japanese passport holders have visa-free access or access on arrival to 167 more destinations than citizens of Afghanistan, who are at the bottom of the rankings, as they can only visit 26 places without first requiring a visa. That’s the biggest gap between countries since the index began, says Henley & Partners.
China and the United Arab Emirates are the tallest climbers
Singapore remains in second place (with 192 points) and South Korea in third place with Germany (with 191 points).
As usual, most of the remaining top 10 places are held by EU countries.
The UK and US shared first place in 2014, but their passport strengths have steadily waned in recent years. They currently occupy seventh place alongside Switzerland, Belgium and New Zealand.
In terms of freedom of travel, China and the United Arab Emirates have been the great success stories of the past decade.
Since 2011, China has risen by 22 places – from 90th to 68th place – while the United Arab Emirates have moved up from 65th place to 15th place. Because of their work in strengthening diplomatic ties around the world, its citizens are now allowed easier access to 174 destinations compared to 67 destinations a decade ago.
“With the introduction of mass vaccination programs in certain affluent and advanced economies such as the EU, the United Arab Emirates, the UK and the US, global mobility will soon be an option again for some,” says Henley & Partners.
“For citizens of developing and emerging countries, where vaccine adoption is much slower and where passports generally offer far less freedom to travel, the future looks decidedly less bright.”
Japan will stay in the lead in 2021.
TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA / AFP / Getty Images
‘Permission to Roam’
Political science researchers Uğur Altundal and Ömer Zarpli of Syracuse University and the University of Pittsburgh, respectively, point out in the report some of the dangers of the vaccination pass model as a solution to reopening international travel.
“Given that people are likely to need to be vaccinated every year, developed countries could try to secure supplies of vaccines for future use. This could ultimately prolong the pandemic and increase the risk of further mutations.”
Mehari Taddele Maru, professor at the Center for Migration Policy and Fellow at the United Nations University Institute for Comparative Regional Integration Studies in Belgium, says that “countries that can vaccinate their populations relatively quickly will also encourage greater mobility of their citizens and will attract visitors to businesses and leisure, while countries facing conflict and those lacking the funding to ensure adequate storage and efficient distribution of vaccines will be lagging behind in easing mobility restrictions. ”
Remote work visas have been a huge trend over the past year as the pandemic has forced companies around the world to adopt more flexible work arrangements.
Greg Lindsay, director of applied research at NewCities, writes in the report that “Helsinki to Dubai targets are already developing programs and guidelines for legless talent whose employers have given them permission to roam.” He goes on to warn that “any global goal without one is in danger of being left behind when the world opens up again”.
The best passes for 2021 are:
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, United Kingdom, United States (187)
8. Czech Republic, Greece, Malta, Norway (186)
9. Australia, Canada (185)
10. Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia (183)
Hold the worst passes
Several countries around the world have visa-free or visa-friendly access to fewer than 40 countries. These include:
102nd North Korea (39 destinations)
103. Nepal (38)
104. Palestinian Territories (37)
105. Somalia (34)
106. Yemen (33)
107. Pakistan (32)
108. Syria (29)
109. Iraq (28)
110. Afghanistan (26)
Henley & Partner’s list is one of several indexes created by financial firms to rank global passports based on access to their citizens.
The Henley Passport Index is based on data from the International Air Transport Authority (IATA) and comprises 199 passports and 227 travel destinations. It is updated in real time throughout the year as soon as changes in visa policy go into effect.
Arton Capital’s Passport Index takes into account 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. Areas that are attached to other countries are excluded.
In the 2021 index, Germany, Finland, Spain and Switzerland share the top spot with a visa-free / visa-on-arrival value of 134.