The COVID-19 pandemic has mixed things up in the annual ranking of the world’s most powerful passports. We’re used to Japan and Singapore taking the top spot, but this year is a whole different story. Thanks to each country’s vastly different handling of the pandemic, passport strengths around the world have fluctuated wildly. This is evidenced by the unveiling of this year’s Passport Index. The index uses a multi-tier method to figure out the strength of each passport, including visa requirements, electronic travel authorization, world openness score, and mobility score.
Given New Zealand’s expert handling of the pandemic, it’s no surprise that they’re ranked number one. New Zealanders have visa-free access to 128 countries, with Germany, Austria, and Luwemburg following closely behind with nearly identical scores.
As might be expected, the US has fallen in the rankings. While it ranked third last year, the US is currently tied with Malaysia at the 21st spot. In 2019 the US had a mobility score of 171, though thanks to its poor handling of the pandemic, and continued high rate of transmission, that number has dropped dramatically. Now it has visa-free access to only 52 countries and a mobility score of 92 compared to New Zealand’s 129. (The Mobility Score is defined as “the total number of countries that can be easily accessed with a given passport” by Passport Index.)
The rankings are likely to change as travel restrictions evolve during the course of the pandemic.