Analyzing and reporting since 2006, the Henley Passport Index provides a ranking of the 199 passports (countries and territories) of the world according to the number of countries their respective citizens can travel to, either visa-free or visa-on-arrival. The annual ranking is run by Henley & Partners, a global citizenship and residence advisory firm based in London.
Each country’s “score” in the report is based on how many countries and territories a citizen from any given country can enter without a visa. That number is fluid from report to report; the highest score for 2021 is 191.
In 2015, the U.S. tied with Finland, Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom for the #1 ranking, with a score of 174, but since then, with the exception in 2017, its rankings have gone down (links are to PDF-based listings):
- 2016: 4th (174, tied with Belgium, Denmark and Netherlands)
- 2017: 3rd (173, tied with Denmark, Finland, Italy and Spain)
- 2018: 5th (186, tied with Austria, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and United Kingdom)
- 2019: 6th (184, tied with Belgium, Canada, Greece, Ireland, Norway, United Kingdom and Switzerland)
- 2020: 8th (184, tied with Belgium, Greece, Norway and United Kingdom)
However, there’s good news for 2021! With a net addition of the ability to enter one more country (so now 185 instead of 184), we’ve gone from tying for 8th place to tying (with Switzerland, the U.K., Norway, Belgium and New Zealand) for 7th place!
Temporary COVID-related travel restrictions aren’t taken into account when determining the annual index. That’s a good thing. If they did, well, it was determined over in the summer that the U.S. would have been ranked #28. Nowadays, with less than 75 countries allowing American citizens due to the virus, we’d be ranked less than 71st.
Japan currently leads the list with a score of 191, Singapore is #2 with a score of 190 and South Korea tied with Germany, with a score of 189, was #3. Those are, interestingly, the exact same rankings as last year. On the other end of the spectrum, citizens of Afghanistan ranks dead last (110th place), with a score of 26, which is beaten only by Iraq (28) and Syria (29).
Several factors go into determining if citizens of a country can enter another, including political relations. Many feel that our current administration is a partial cause for our ranking to have sunk between 2016 and now. Conde Nast suggested that the U.S.’ slide has been due to, in part, the country’s focus on tightening its borders and an unwillingness to revise its visa policies. It will be interesting to see if and how much we improve in the rankings as a new administration takes over.
Meanwhile, for those who want to increase their own personal ranking of how many countries they can enter, those who have the means can get a secondary passport. In fact, as a way to drum up money to make up for the loss of tourism, several countries had “sales” (indirectly) on the “price” of their passports over the summer of 2020.
Anyway, click here to see the entire 2021 Henley Passport ranking.
This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary