Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) – The first report for 2022 released by global citizenship and residency consultancy Henley & Partners, based in the British capital, London, found that there is a growing gap between North and South when it comes to freedom of travel.
The company’s Henley Passport Index has regularly rated the most travel-friendly passports in the world since 2006, based on exclusive data provided by the International Air Transport Association.
The report notes that the increased and persistent travel restrictions introduced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in the largest global mobility gap since the index was launched 16 years ago.
The index does not take into account temporary travel restrictions, leaving aside the actual travel potential.
At the top of the passport classification list are Japanese and Singapore passports, as they allow travel to 192 visa-free countries. They surpass Afghan passport holders by 166 other travel destinations, which ranks at the bottom of the 199 passport index, and holders can enter only 26 countries without the need for a prior visa.
Europe dominates in the top ten
The ranking remained virtually unchanged as we entered the first quarter of 2022, with South Korea tied with Germany in second place (with a total of 190 seats). Finland, Italy, Luxembourg and Spain come in third place (with a total of 189 countries).
European Union countries top the list as usual, with France, the Netherlands and Sweden all climbing one point to join Austria and Denmark in fourth place (with a total of 188 countries), and Ireland and Portugal in the country. fifth (with a total of 187 seats).
As for the United States and the United Kingdom, which topped the rankings in 2014, they climbed to sixth place, along with four other countries: Switzerland, Norway, Belgium and New Zealand.
Australia ranked seventh with Canada, the Czech Republic, Greece and Malta. Eastern European countries make up the rest of the top ten.
Hungary and Poland climbed to eighth place in this ranking, Lithuania and Slovakia climbed to ninth place, while Estonia, Latvia and Slovenia ranked tenth.
positive internal migration
The report notes that the emergence of the “Omicron” mutant late last year highlighted the growing division of international mobility between rich and poor countries, highlighting the severe restrictions imposed on predominantly African countries, which the Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres described them as closest. in The Apartheid Journey.
Despite the pandemic, levels of travel freedom have expanded dramatically over the past two decades.
In 2006, the Henley Passport Index found that an individual could visit an average of 57 countries without having to obtain a visa in advance. Today, that number has doubled to 107.
However, these new freedoms are enjoyed mainly by the richest regions of Europe, North America and Asian countries, unlike passport holders from countries such as Angola, Cameroon and Laos, who can only enter about 50 destinations.
Opening up immigration channels will be critical to recovery after the pandemic, said Christian Kaelin, President of Henley & Partners, noting that “passports and visas are among the most important tools influencing social inequality worldwide because they determine opportunities for global mobility “.
He added: “The borders we were born in and the documents we are entitled to keep are no less arbitrary than the color of our skin. Rich countries should encourage positive internal migration in an effort to help redistribute and rebalance of people and material resources worldwide ”.
The best passports of 2022:
- Japan and Singapore (192 travel destinations)
- Germany and South Korea (190)
- Finland, Italy, Luxembourg and Spain (189)
- Austria, Denmark, France, the Netherlands and Sweden (188)
- Ireland and Portugal (187)
- Belgium, New Zealand, Switzerland, Norway, United States and United Kingdom (186)
- Czech Republic, Greece, Malta, Australia and Canada (185)
- Poland and Hungary (183)
- Lithuania and Slovakia (182)
- Estonia, Latvia and Slovenia (181)
Worst passports of 2022:
Many countries have the opportunity to enter less than 40 countries without a visa or with a visa upon arrival:
104. North Korea (39 destinations)
105. Nepal and the Palestinian Territories (37).
106. Somali (34)
107. Yemen (33).
108. Pakistan (31).
109. Syria (29).
110. Iraq (28).
111. Afghanistan (26).
The Henley & Partners list is one of several indicators created by financial firms to rank global passports according to the access they provide to their citizens.
The Henley Passport Index ranks 199 passports worldwide based on the number of countries and territories in which a holder can travel without a visa or with a visa upon arrival, and is updated in real time throughout the year when visa policy changes. enter into force.
While the Passport Index of global financial advisory firm Arton Capital provides an estimate for 193 United Nations member states and six territories – the Republic of China, Taiwan and Macau, (China), Hong Kong (China), Kosovo, the Palestinian Territories and the Vatican . Areas annexed to other countries are excluded.
The UAE topped the Passport Index, with a total of 160 visa-free or incoming visa countries.