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Wed, 8 Jan 2020

Worlds Most Powerful Passports? Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Germany in Top 3

For the third consecutive year, Japan has secured the top spot on the Henley Passport Index with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 191.

Singapore holds onto its 2nd-place position with a score of 190, while South Korea drops down a rank to 3rd place alongside Germany, giving their passport holders visa-free/visa-on-arrival access to 189 destinations worldwide.

The US and the UK continue their downward trajectory on the indexs rankings. While both countries remain in the top 10, their shared 8th-place position is a significant decline from the number one spot they jointly held in 2015.

Elsewhere in the top 10, Finland and Italy share 4th place, with a score of 188, while Denmark, Luxembourg, and Spain together hold 5th place, with a score of 187.

For the third consecutive year, Japan has secured the top spot on the Henley Passport Index with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 191. Singapore holds onto its 2nd-place position with a score of 190, while South Korea drops down a rank to 3rd place alongside Germany, giving their passport holders visa-free/visa-on-arrival access to 189 destinations worldwide. Download the ranking here: https://www.henleypassportindex.com/assets/2020/Q1/HENLEY%20PASSPORT%20INDEX%202020%20Q1%20INFOGRAPHIC%20GLOBAL%20RANKING_191219.pdf Click to enlarge.

The indexs historic success story remains the steady ascent of the UAE, which has climbed a remarkable 47 places over the past 10 years and now sits in 18th place, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 171.

On the other end of the travel freedom spectrum, Afghanistan remains at the bottom of the index, with its nationals only able to visit a mere 26 destinations visa-free.

Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, Chairman of Henley & Partners and the inventor of the passport index concept, which is based on exclusive data from IATA, says the latest ranking provides a fascinating insight into a rapidly changing world.

Asian countries dominance of the top spots is a clear argument for the benefits of open-door policies and the introduction of mutually beneficial trade agreements. Over the past few years, we have seen the world adapt to mobility as a permanent condition of global life. The latest rankings show that the countries that embrace this reality are thriving, with their citizens enjoying ever-increasing passport power and the array of benefits that come with it. Dr. Kaelin said.

As ongoing research shows, these benefits are extensive. Using exclusive historical data from the Henley Passport Index, political science researchers Uğur Altundal and mer Zarpli, of Syracuse University and the University of Pittsburgh respectively, have found that there is a strongly positive correlation between travel freedom and other kinds of liberties from the economic to the political, and even individual or human freedoms.

Altundal and Zarpli observe that theres a distinct correlation between visa freedom and investment freedom, for instance. Similar to trade freedom, countries that rank highly in investment freedom generally have stronger passports. European states such as Austria, Malta, and Switzerland clearly show that countries with a business-friendly environment tend to score highly when it comes to passport power. Likewise, by using  the Human Freedom Index, we found a strong correlation between personal freedom and travel freedom.

UK, Europe and Brexit

Following the Conservative governments landslide victory in the UK late last year, the future of mobility and travel freedom between Britain and the EU remains uncertain.

Following the Conservative governments landslide victory in the UK late last year, the future of mobility and travel freedom between Britain and the EU remains uncertain. Picture by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com Click to enlarge.

Madeleine Sumption, Director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, said, The Conservative government has promised an Australian-style points-based system that would be more liberal than current policies towards non-EU citizens, though still much more restrictive than free movement. As with all big migration policy changes, what this will mean for actual levels of mobility, however, remains extremely difficult to predict.

Noting that the looming threat of Brexit has potentially made Britain a less attractive destination for EU citizens, Sumption  points out that net EU migration to the UK fell by 59% between 2015 and 2018.

Prof. Simone Bertoli, Professor of Economics at Universit Clermont Auvergne (CERDI) in France, says that while countries around the world insist that they are taking steps to attract the best and the brightest, a rather different picture is currently emerging: When it comes to talent migration, a worrying gap between policy and rhetoric has been opening up over the past year. The sluggish improvement of labor market conditions after the 2008 crisis, and the concomitant rise of nativist political parties, is reinforcing the perception of immigration as a threat rather than as an opportunity.

Citizenship-by-Investment

Going into the new year, countries with citizenship-by-investment programs continue to consolidate their positions on the index.

Malta sits in 9th place, with access to 183 destinations around the world, while Montenegro holds on to 46th place, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 124. In the Caribbean, St. Kitts and Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda secure 27th and 30th spot, respectively.

Discussing the increasing popularity of investment migration programs for both wealthy investors and the countries that offer them, Dr. Juerg Steffen, CEO of Henley & Partners, said, Demand for these programs is accelerating, just as the supply has grown globally. The past year has shown that, increasingly, nations and wealthy individuals see investment migration as more than a competitive advantage. Today, it is viewed as an absolute requirement in a volatile world where competition for capital is fierce, and its very clear that we will see more of this in 2020.

Download the full index here.

See latest Travel News, Interviews, Podcasts and other news regarding: Passports, Henley Passport Index.

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