Global mobility collapsed and passport power rankings reshuffled, as a consequence of the Covid-19 crisis

Published 2020-09-14 09:00:00
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Rules are constantly changing currently with countries closing borders or requesting people to quarantine amid arrival on their soil. As the Covid-19 pandemic has caused major disruptions to global mobility, we analyse the latest report from The Passport Index, highlighting with figures those important changes.

A few months ago, The Passport Index published its report on the most powerful passports in 2020, based on the total number of countries that can be easily accessed with a given passport. They calculate a Mobility Score (MS) which is based on Visa-free, Visa-on-arrival, eTA, and eVisa issued within 3 days. As we expected, the 2019 ranking has been shambled and now European countries are trusting the podium for the most powerful passports. This not surprising as the borders of the European Union and Schengen area remained open during most of the current year, if we except the lockdown period in March/May. All the other countries which were prevented to access the 26 states of Europe's Schengen saw their scores to drop.

While last year the United Arab Emirates were ranked first with the possibility to easily visit 173 countries including 116 visa-free destinations, numbers have collapsed this year as the group at the top of the ranking has only a total Mobility Score of 124 (with 90 countries accessible without visa). In this group we find Belgium, Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Ireland and two non European countries: Japan and New Zealand. The rest of Europe is following closely as Sweden, France, Finland, Italy and Spain rank in second position with MS of 123. The United Arab Emirates have collapsed to rank 13 with only 99 countries. It is still more than the USA, which is ranking 20th with 87 countries and only 48 being visa free, while they were rank 3 last year! The drop of some gives the opportunity for others to take the lead. Montenegro's passport, now ranking in 17th place with a 86 MS, has become more powerful than the US passport.

At the bottom of the list, the change is less noticeable as we still find Afghanistan and Iraq with access to barely 30 countries, following war zone countries such as Syria, Somalia and Yemen.

Passport Index writes:

"These temporary shifts in ranking may influence the perceived value of passports available through Citizenship by Investment programs [for example Malta or Cyprus]. During a global lockdown, a powerful second passport is more important to get into the country as a citizen, rather than travel with it to other destinations."

As the pandemic continue, things are always likely to change for any country and they may suspend visa at anytime. Therefore it is now more than ever necessary to check the conditions at the time of departure.

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Author: Cyrilexpat
French & British national
CEO Habilis Digital Ltd

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