Photo by Agus Dietrich on Unsplash

Having the “right” nationality (and passport) has become increasingly relevant in recent months as air travellers have faced a veritable potpourri of international regulations and protocols.

From COVID testing to quarantine, and traffic light systems to vaccination certificates, global travel has presented a diverse range of challenges, often dependent on the name of the country appearing in your passport. 

The situation has progressively eased in recent weeks, as countries (such as Spain) report elevated vaccination rates and governments simplify their entry requirements. The UK, for example, has just announced a significant reduction in the number of countries on its “red list” (54 to seven, effective from Monday 11 October). 

Nevertheless, the passport you show at border control still remains as important as ever in facilitating your travel plans. So which nationalities are the most “desirable”, at least when it comes to avoiding onerous restrictions, or even simply obtaining a visa?

Every quarter, Henley Global updates its authoritative “Passport Index”, which is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association’s extensive travel information database and is enhanced by Henley & Partners’ own research team. 

The index includes 199 different passports and 227 travel destinations, ranking them as a standard reference tool for individuals and sovereign states when assessing a passport’s status on the global mobility spectrum.

The index’s scoring system was developed to give users a “nuanced, practical and reliable overview of their passport’s power”. Each passport is scored on the total number of destinations that the holder can access visa-free. 

For each travel destination, if no visa is required by a passport holder (or they can obtain a visa on arrival, a visitor’s permit or an electronic travel authority on entry), a score of one is allocated for that passport. Where a visa is required, or where a passport holder must apply for a government-approved electronic visa (e-Visa) before departure, a score of zero is assigned.

So what is the latest ranking (dated 5 October)?

Japan and Singapore are tied at number one, with a 192 visa-free score. Next are Germany (leading the way among European countries) and South Korea with 190, followed by Finland, Italy, Luxembourg and Spain (189), with Austria and Denmark (188) completing the top-10.

Other countries’ passport index scores include: France, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden (187); Belgium, New Zealand and Switzerland (186); Norway, United Kingdom and United States (185); and Australia and Canada (184).



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