U.S. passport is only as good as Rwanda’s amid COVID restrictions

July 7, 2021, 12:45 PM UTC

Countries like the U.K., the U.S. and Japan may have some of the most powerful passports in the world but that’s little comfort as Covid curbs travel to many destinations.

In fact, under current restrictions, they’re about the same as having a passport from a developing nation, according to the Henley Passport Index.

In theory, a Japanese passport will get you visa-free, or visa-on-arrival, access to 193 nations, the best score of any country globally. In practice, taking into account coronavirus limitations, it would permit such entry to only 75 destinations, the data show.

Singapore passport holders fare even worse, with their No. 2 world ranking of hassle-free entry into 192 locations reduced to just 70, or equal to having a passport from the Dominican Republic.

There’s a similarly gloomy outlook even in countries with advanced Covid vaccine rollouts. The U.K. and the U.S. share joint 7th place on the index, with passport holders theoretically able to access 187 destinations around the world.

Under current travel bans, however, U.K. passport holders can access fewer than 60 destinations — a passport power equivalent to that of Uzbekistan. U.S. passport holders have a passport power equivalent to Rwanda.

Henley & Partners Chairman Christian Kaelin said it’s clear that global mobility will be “seriously hampered throughout 2021 at least.”

“In many countries, serious doubts have arisen as to the ability to handle a global crisis, with the subsequent embrace of more inward-looking priorities,” Kaelin said. “It is clear that more than ever, people need to expand their residence and passport options.”

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