10 most powerful passports after Covid-19 revealed

Tony Yoo
·3-min read
Two passports with paper slips saying Covid-19 in them on the left and a man showing his passport to an airport official on the right.
Some previously powerful passports are now weaker because of their country's handling of the coronavirus pandemic. (images: Getty)

The most powerful passports rankings always attract much interest, but the latest edition has seen some upheaval due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many countries and continental blocs around the world have this year refused entry from foreigners to slow the spread of the virus.

Passport holders from certain countries with high coronavirus infection or death rates have been especially targeted in the travel restrictions.

The July edition of the Henley Passport Index, which measures how freely a passport-holder can enter other nations, reflects this new reality.

The United States, for example, officially has the highest number of infections and deaths of any country in the world. So its passport, which was number one in 2014 and usually in the top 10, has dropped down to 28th.

"The US's dramatic decline in passport power means that Americans find themselves with a similar level of travel freedom usually available to citizens of Mexico (25th on the index, with a score of 159), current travel bans notwithstanding, albeit temporarily," investment migration firm Henley and Partners reported.

"US nationals now have roughly the same level of travel freedom as citizens of Uruguay (included on the EU's list of welcome countries), which ranks 28th on the index, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 153."

The index judges the power of the passport by calculating how many other countries the holder can enter without a visa.

Brazil has suffered from the second-highest infections and deaths in the world, including its president.

So its citizens now find their freedom restricted.

"The country usually ranks highly on the index — most recently placed 19th, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 170 — but the loss of access to the EU means Brazilians currently have roughly the same extent of travel freedom as citizens of Paraguay (36th on the index, with a score of 142)."

The biggest influencer of the change in rankings is the European Union announcing a group of countries whose citizens may enter the continent from July 1.

Nations like Japan, South Korea, Australia and Canada that usually rank highly in the Henley index were included on the "welcome list", but the US, Brazil and Russia were conspicuous omissions.

"As we have already seen, the pandemic's impact on travel freedom has been more drastic and long lasting than initially anticipated," said Dr Christian H Kaelin, index inventor and chair of Henley and Partners.

"We see an emergence of a new global hierarchy in terms of mobility, with countries that have effectively managed the pandemic taking the lead, and countries that have handled it poorly falling behind."

Australia has the 9th highest power rating, while New Zealand has the 8th.

Here are the top 10 most powerful passports in the Henley index:

1. Japan

2. Singapore

=3. South Korea

=3. Germany

=5. Italy

=5. Finland

=5. Spain

=5. Luxembourg

=9. Denmark

=9. Austria

Sign up to the newsletter for exclusive access to the Yahoo Finance Breakfast Club.
Sign up to the newsletter for exclusive access to the Yahoo Finance Breakfast Club.

Follow Yahoo Finance Australia on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.