Not all passports are created equal.
Travel freedom has generally expanded significantly as of 2022, but some countries are more free than others, according to leading residence and citizenship advisory firm Henley & Partners.
The firm’s Henley Passport Index ranks all passports according to the number of destinations that their holders can access without a prior visa. This is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association, the largest and most accurate travel information database.
Comparing the visa policy (free or on-arrival) of 199 different passports to 227 travel destinations, the updated index revealed that Japan and Singapore have the most powerful passports for the first quarter of 2022, able to access 192 locations worldwide.
Also leading the pack are Germany (190), South Korea (190), Finland (189), Italy (189), Luxembourg (189), Spain (189), Austria (188), Denmark (188), France (188), Netherlands (188), Sweden (188), Ireland (187), and Portugal (187).
On the opposite end of the global mobility spectrum, Afghanistan, which is ranked last at 111th, has the weakest passport that can only access 26 travel destinations.
Faring not much better are Somalia (34), Yemen (33), Pakistan (31), Syria (29), and Iraq (28).
The complete ranking can be viewed here.
Henley & Partners said that the increase in the global average number of countries that could be visited without having to obtain a visa in advance is evidence that travel freedom has improved.
Passport holders now have visa-free access to an average of 107 countries in 2022, compared to only 57 countries in 2006.
A caveat, however, comes with this good news, according to the Henley Global Mobility Report 2022 Q1.
“But this apparent progress is masking a growing divide in mobility—and the resulting access to opportunities—between citizens in the wealthy global north and those in the lower-income global south, which includes many fragile states,” read the report.
“Japanese, Swedish, and US passport holders can visit more than 180 destinations without a visa, whereas citizens of Angola, Cameroon, and Laos can visit only about 50.”
Henley & Partners said that COVID-19 and climate change will be key drivers of mobility in the coming months and years.
Among the global trends seen is a tendency to relocate to places that offer stability, security, and better quality of life.
“COVID-19 has permanently altered travel. Flying is becoming a luxury again, as tests, vaccine certification, and at times mandatory quarantines must be factored into each journey,” read the report.
Henley & Partners explained that nationalities and countries of residence determine access to approved vaccines, with the lack of a universally recognized vaccine passport restricting mobility.
“In addition to less travel freedom, those on the wrong side of the global mobility divide face diminishing access to education, business opportunities, and medical services,” the firm concluded.