A passport is an important document for any Briton looking to travel internationally. But how does the UK passport compare to the passports of other countries? The Henley Passport Index is the original ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa.
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Yesterday, the Henley Passport Index released its 2020 Q2 update.
The ranking is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
So which country was revealed as having the most powerful passport?
Japan continues to come top of the rankings in the passport index.
Japanese citizens can enter 191 countries with their passport visa-free.
In second place was Singapore with a visa-free score of 190.
In joint third place was Germany and South Korea with a score of 189.
The UK came in seventh place – Britons can go to 185 countries without a visa on the UK passport.
However, the Henley Passport Index pointed out that, given the current coronavirus pandemic, the index is actually defunct as so few can travel at the moment.
Henley & Partners said in a statement: “The first ranking of the new decade published in January this year conclusively confirmed that overall, people were the most globally mobile than we had ever been in the history of humankind, with the top-ranking passport (Japan) offering its holders access to a record-breaking 191 destinations without requiring a visa in advance.
“Just three months later, the picture looks very different indeed.
“Japan’s passport continues to hold the top spot on the Henley Passport Index as we enter the second quarter of 2020, but the reality is that current stringent travel restrictions mean that most non-essential travel for Japanese nationals is heavily curtailed.
“This is true for almost every country of course, as more travel bans are implemented daily, and ever-more stringent coronavirus lockdown regulations are imposed by governments worldwide.
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“With 3.5 billion people, nearly half the global population, presently living in voluntary or mandatory confinement, the latest results from the index — which is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) — raise challenging questions about what travel freedom and global mobility really mean, both currently and in a deeply uncertain post-pandemic future.”
Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, Chairman of Henley & Partners and the inventor of the passport index concept, points out that in an unprecedented global health emergency such as this, relative passport strength becomes temporarily meaningless.
“A Swiss citizen can, in theory, travel to 185 destinations around the world without needing a visa in advance, but the last few weeks have made it apparent that travel freedom is contingent on factors that occasionally can be utterly beyond our control.
“This is, of course, something that citizens of countries with weak passports in the lower ranks of the index are all too familiar with.
“As public health concerns and security rightfully take precedence over all else now, even within the otherwise borderless EU, this is an opportunity to reflect on what freedom of movement and citizenship essentially mean for those of us who have perhaps taken them for granted in the past.”
So did Brexit affect the UK passport’s ranking for 2020 at all?
The chaos caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has cast further doubt on the timeline for the implementation of the UK’s post-Brexit immigration system, according to Madeleine Sumption, Director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford.
The UK was set to end free movement with the EU in January 2021.
However, Sumption clarified: “The UK can only implement its new immigration system when the post-Brexit ‘transition period’ is over, and if this is extended to give negotiators more time to discuss trade and other issues, we may not be seeing the end of free movement with the EU quite yet.”
Most Powerful Passports for 2020
1. Japan 191
2. Singapore 190
3. Germany & South Korea 189
4. Finland, Italy, Luxembourg & Spain 188
5. Austria & Denmark 187
6. France, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal & Sweden 186
7. Belgium, Norway, Switzerland, United Kingdom & United States 185
8. Czech Republic, Greece, Malta & New Zealand 184
9. Australia & Canada 183
10. Hungary 182
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