Cover The Japanese passport tops the Henley Index in 2021 (Photo: Getty Images)

Asia takes top honours in the latest passport world-rankings

For the third year in a row, Japan's passport tops the Henley Index, an annual ranking of the world's passports by international access—i.e. the ability to enter foreign countries without a visa. Under ordinary, non-pandemic travel circumstances, this means that, in 2021, holders of Japanese passports would be able to enter 191 foreign countries without prior visa approval. Taking second place in the Henley Index this year is the Singapore passport, which allows its holders to enter 190 countries visa-free. Notably, the United States' passport has dropped to number seven in the rankings—from the top spot seven years ago.

"Over the past seven years, the US passport has fallen from the number one spot to 7th place, a position it currently shares with the UK," said Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, Chairman of Henley & Partners and the inventor of the passport index concept, in a statement. "Due to pandemic-related travel constraints, travellers from both countries currently face major restrictions from over 105 countries, with US passport holders able to travel to fewer than 75 destinations, while UK passport holders currently have access to fewer than 70." 

This year's top 10 rankings are as follows:

  1. Japan—191
  2. Singapore—190
  3. Germany and South Korea—189
  4. Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, and Spain—188
  5. Austria and Denmark—187
  6. France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Sweden—186
  7. Belgium, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States—185
  8. Australia, the Czech Republic, Greece, and Malta—184
  9. Canada—183
  10. Hungary—182

As politics and the new world order adapt and shift during and post-pandemic, so will global mobility. 

"Even for still-powerful passports, additional protocols will be required to re-attain relatively frictionless mobility," said Dr. Parag Khanna, founder of Futuremap. "Today's youth are socially conscious, environmentally aware, and less nationalistic—all of which makes them potentially the most mobile generation in human history. They herald a seminal shift in mobility from being every country for itself to being every person for themselves."

See also: What's Next After Singapore-Hong Kong Air Travel Bubble Is Postponed Indefinitely

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