Pandemic takes the shine off premium passports, report shows

By Uglobal Staff

The pandemic has significantly diminished the power of passports from much sought-after destinations, like the U.S. and the U.K., whose real reach in terms of visa free access to places around the world is no better than the passports from least sought-after places like Rwanda or Uzbekistan, according to a new report released on July 6.

The findings have been made in a new Global Mobility Report 2021 by the residency and citizenship firm, Henley & Partners, which is known for maintaining the Henley Passport Index that is based on data from the International Air Transport Association.

The report revealed that while the U.S. and the U.K. offered its passport holders visa free/passport on arrival access to 187 destinations theoretically, post pandemic this translates to just 57 destinations for the UK and 61 for America, which is the same as for passport-holders from Uzbekistan and Rwanda, respectively.


Other countries have not fared well either, for example in Europe, Germany, which offers passport holders access to 191 destinations visa free/on arrival, these days is down to 81 countries; moreover, French passport holders should know that 188 visa free access on paper actually means access to 82 destinations on the ground.

Japan, which continues to be ranked at the top in the Passport Index despite the pandemic with swift access to 193 destinations worldwide hypothetically, in reality is good for 75 destinations. Another top placed Far East country, Singapore, which ranks high in the passport index with access to 192 countries for its passport holders, is limited to just 81 destinations post-COVID 19.

Australia with 185 on the index is good for 84 destinations now; Brazilian passports with an index score of 171 would give privileged access to just 56 destinations.

Countries that already had a very low passport index score have slid even further; for example, in India, which theoretically gives its passport holders quick access to 58 countries is now good for 27 countries -- one less than Afghanistan which is right at the bottom of this passport index.

The report highlighted the fact that "the gap in travel freedom is now at its largest" since 2006 when the firm began maintaining the passport index.


The erosion in strength of passports comes along with the massive drops in international travel and global tourism.

The report noted that compared to the same period last year, there was a 97% decrease in international travel in April 2020; also, while business and essential travel figures began going up in the period between the start of this year and March 2021, the recovery so far has been a mere 12%.

Global leisure travel has also dropped to 10% of pre-pandemic levels; tourism in the EU is down around 90% while for the U.S. it is down to 69%.


The report quoted Applied Research at New Cities Director Greg Lindsay who urged cities and nations around the world to look at the big picture to emerge from the pandemic strong and prosperous.

"Rather than dwelling on wealthy former residents now working from their second or third homes, they must focus on restoring the flow of immigrants. The cities that make themselves most hospitable to new arrivals in the wake of the pandemic are poised to be the capitals of the new Roaring Twenties,” Lindsay said.

The report added that countries that offer RCBI were continuing to show strength on its passport index; for example, Austria ranks fifth in the index, Portugal sixth while Malta is on the eighth spot; the power of St. Lucia's passport too is also rising since it began offering investment immigration options, it added.

Powered by Froala Editor

About the Author

Uglobal Staff
Uglobal Staff, along with its peer-reviewed magazines and conferences series, focuses on the global investment immigration market, offering the latest trends and analyses. is a media platform built to provide professionals involved with global programs with the most comprehensive and credible sources of information in digital, print and seminar mediums. The platform was created out of the need for marketplace transparency and to more efficiently connect individuals interested in learning about the global programs - either as a potential capital source or as a solution for their immigration needs. The Uglobal publication collaborates with a network of leading experts and an authoritative board of advisors to uphold a high standard in all content delivered and events hosted by the organization.

Magazine Sign Up

Sign up to receive a free copy of our industry leading global immigration magazine

Become a Verified Member

Join our the global immigration community

join for free