World’s most powerful passports: How powerful is UK passport after Brexit?

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The Henley Passport Index ranks countries based on their ability to visit 199 countries in the world without a visa. Topping the passport power list are Japan and Singapore.

Japan and Singapore passport holders can travel to 192 of the 199 countries ranked without waiting for a visa.

German residents hold the most powerful passport in Europe and are able to visit 190 countries without visa restrictions.

South Korea tied with Germany in second place and is the third nation in Asia to offer its nationals a very powerful passport.

Spain, Italy, Finland and Luxembourg tied for third place, with passport holders of those nations able to visit 189 countries without a visa.

The UK was ranked in seventh place on the power index, tied with Greece, Malta, Norway and the USA. UK passport holders can visit 185 destinations with ease.

The UK’s passport is less powerful than neighbouring countries France and Ireland where passport holders can travel to 187 countries.

In 2015, the UK’s passport was ranked the most powerful in the world but began to slide post-Brexit and came third in 2016.

Henley & Partners, the investment advisory firm that created the index, said that COVID-19 restrictions had a significant impact on global passport power in 2021.

While many countries in the global north with high power ranking passports enforced strict pandemic entry rules, many countries in the global south did not.

Henley & Partners said this had widened the gap in passport power between those with the least powerful passport and those with the most.

Afghanistan was ranked as the least powerful passport. Afghanistan passport holders can visit 26 countries without visa restrictions.

Iraq had the second least powerful passport with document holders able to visit 28 countries without waiting for a visa.

Henley& Partners said: “The latest results and research from the Henley Passport Index show how proliferating barriers to entry over the past 18 months of the pandemic have resulted in the widest global mobility gap in its 16-year history.”

Many countries still have pandemic entry restrictions in place. Japan, the country with the most powerful passport, currently bars almost all foreign nationals from visiting.

Germany, which came in second place, currently has entry restrictions against nearly 100 countries.

Experts said the UK’s recent lifting of restrictions would do little to close the widening gap of passport inequality.

Hannah White, deputy director of the Institute for Government, a London think tank, said: “The direction of travel has been towards greater freedoms, but ongoing requirements for expensive tests and quarantine for those vaccinated outside the UK, and the absence of an approved international vaccination certification scheme, continue to rule out visits for many international travellers, limit short-term international travel for UK residents, and potentially cause issues for UK residents vaccinated in non-approved countries.”

It is expected that many countries will soon require visitors to be double-vaccinated to enter which could also impact global passport power rankings.

The Henley Passport Index is released every quarter and ranks countries based on their passport’s power.

Top 10 most powerful passports

  • Japan (192)
  • Singapore (192)
  • Germany (190)
  • South Korea (190)
  • Finland (189)
  • Italy (189)
  • Luxembourg (189)
  • Spain (189)
  • Austria (188)
  • Denmark (188)

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