(CNN) – There is a growing gap between the north and south of the planet when it comes to travel freedoms, says the first 2022 passport report from Henley & Partners, a London-based global citizenship and residency consulting firm.
The firm’s Henley Passport Index, based on exclusive data provided by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), has been regularly monitoring the passports that are easier to travel the world with since 2006.
It says the increased travel barriers that have been introduced in the course of the covid-19 pandemic have resulted in the widest global mobility gap in the index’s 16-year history.
The index does not take into account time restrictions, so real travel access aside, passport holders at the top of their rankings (Japan and Singapore) can theoretically travel visa-free to 192 destinations.
That’s 166 more destinations than Afghan nationals, who rank at the bottom of the 199 passport index, and can access just 26 countries without the need for an advance visa.
Europe dominates in the passport ranking
Lower in the top 10, the ranking remains largely unchanged as we move into the first quarter of 2022. South Korea is tied with Germany for second place (with a score of 190) and Finland, Italy, Luxembourg and Spain. they are all together in third place (with a score of 189).
EU countries dominate the top of the list, as usual, with France, the Netherlands and Sweden moving up one spot to join Austria and Denmark in fourth place (scoring 188). Ireland and Portugal are in fifth place (with a score of 187).
The United States and the United Kingdom, which ranked first together in 2014, have regained some ground. They have risen one ranking to No.6, along with four other nations with a history of isolationism or neutrality: Switzerland, Norway, Belgium and New Zealand.
At number 7 we have Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Greece and Malta. Eastern European countries make up the rest of the top 10. Hungary and Poland have risen to eighth place, Lithuania and Slovakia have risen to No. 9, and Estonia, Latvia and Slovenia are in 10th place.
Positive internal migration
The latest report notes that the appearance at the end of last year of the omicron variant shed light on a growing divide in international mobility between richer countries and poor countries, pointing to the harsh restrictions introduced mainly against African nations that the UN secretary general , Antonio Guterres, described as being similar to a “apartheid travel”.
The pandemic aside, overall levels of travel freedom have expanded tremendously in the past two decades. The Henley Passport Index found in 2006 that a person could, on average, visit 57 countries without the need to acquire a visa in advance. Today, that number is 107, almost double.
However, these new freedoms are mainly enjoyed by Europe, North America, and the richest Asian nations – passport holders from nations like Angola, Cameroon, and Laos can enter only about 50.
Christian H. Kaelin, president of Henley & Partners and creator of the passport index concept, says opening up migration channels will be crucial to post-pandemic recovery. “Passports and visas are among the most important instruments affecting social inequality around the world, as they determine opportunities for global mobility,” he says. “The borders within which we are born and the documents we are entitled to possess are no less arbitrary than the color of our skin. The wealthiest states should encourage positive internal migration in an effort to help redistribute and rebalance human resources and materials around the world. “
The best passports to have in 2022 are:
1. Japan, Singapore (192 destinations)
2. Germany, South Korea (190)
3. Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain (189)
4. Austria, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Sweden (188)
5. Ireland, Portugal (187)
6. Belgium, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States (186)
7. Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Greece, Malta (185)
8. Poland, Hungary (183)
9. Lithuania, Slovakia (182)
10. Estonia, Latvia, Slovenia (181)
The worst passports to have
Several countries around the world have visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to fewer than 40 countries. These include:
104. North Korea (39 destinations)
105. Nepal and Palestinian territories (37)
106. Somalia (34)
107. Yemen (33)
108. Pakistan (31)
109. Syria (29)
110. Iraq (28)
111. Afghanistan (26)
The Henley & Partner list is one of several indexes created by financial firms to rank global passports based on the access they provide to their citizens.
The Henley Passport Index ranks 199 passports based on the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa. It is updated in real time throughout the year, as visa policy changes take effect.
The Arton Capital passport index takes into account the passports of 193 member countries of the United Nations and six territories: ROC Taiwan, Macao (SAR China), Hong Kong (SAR China), Kosovo, Palestinian Territory and the Vatican. Territories annexed to other countries are excluded.
Its 2022 index has the United Arab Emirates in first place, with a score of 160 visa-free / visa-on-arrival.