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New Zealand Now Has the Most Powerful Passport in the World

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New Zealand’s passport dominates the Passport Index by Arton Capital at the moment.

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New Zealand’s passport dominates the Passport Index by Arton Capital at the moment.

Due to current COVID-19 travel restrictions, New Zealand tops Arton Capital’s Passport Index with visa-free access to 129 destinations.

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When taking recent EU travel restrictions and various other coronavirus-related border closures into account, a New Zealand passport currently gives you visa-free or visa-upon-arrival access to 129 destinations. This makes it the most powerful passport in the world, according to Arton Capital’s Passport Index, a ranking of the world’s passports in order of the number of destinations their holders can access without obtaining a visa prior to arrival. 

Unlike the Henley Passport Index, which put Japan’s passport at the top of its list as recently as July 2020, Arton Capital’s Passport Index updates its rankings in real time as new visa waivers and changes are implemented, showing the current effect COVID-19 travel bans have on global mobility right now.

Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Ireland, Japan, South Korea, and Australia follow closely behind New Zealand in joint second place with visa-free access to 128 destinations currently. Sweden, Belgium, France, Finland, Italy, and Spain tie for third place with access to 127 destinations each. With current COVID-19 travel restrictions in place, the United States doesn’t make an appearance until 21st on the list, a ranking it shares with Malaysia, with each having visa-free access to just 92 destinations currently. 

The world’s most powerful passports in 2020, with COVID-19 travel restrictions

According to the Passport Index by Arton Capital

  1. New Zealand (129 destinations)
  2. Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Ireland, Japan, South Korea, Australia (128 destinations)
  3. Sweden, Belgium, France, Finland, Italy, Spain (127 destinations)
  4. Netherlands, Denmark, Portugal, Lithuania, Norway, Iceland, United Kingdom, Canada (126 destinations)
  5. Malta, Slovenia, Latvia (125 destinations)
  6. Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Poland, Hungary, Liechtenstein (124 destinations)
  7. Slovakia (123 destinations)
  8. Cyprus, Croatia, Monaco (121 destinations)
  9. Romania, Bulgaria (120 destinations)
  10. San Marino, Andorra, Uruguay (115 destinations)

Afghanistan and Iraq landed at the bottom of the rankings at 75th place with access to only 31 destinations. Syria, Somalia, and Yemen ranked only slightly higher with access to 34, 35, and 36 destinations, respectively.

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When you remove these temporary coronavirus-related travel bans, travel freedom for holders of many of these powerful passports looks very different. For example, when you view the Henley Passport Index, which released its most recent rankings in July 2020, without factoring in COVID-19 travel bans, the United States ranked one spot above New Zealand with access to 185 destinations instead of 184.

The world’s most powerful passports in 2020, without COVID-19 restrictions

According to the Henley Passport Index

  1. Japan (191 destinations)
  2. Singapore (190 destinations)
  3. South Korea, Germany (189 destinations)
  4. Italy, Finland, Spain, Luxembourg (188 destinations)
  5. Denmark, Austria (187 destinations)
  6. Sweden, France, Portugal, Netherlands, Ireland (186 destinations)
  7. Switzerland, United States, United Kingdom, Norway, Belgium  (185 destinations)
  8. Greece, New Zealand, Malta, Czech Republic (184 destinations)
  9. Canada, Australia (183 destinations)
  10. Hungary (182 destinations)

“As we have already seen, the pandemic’s impact on travel freedom has been more drastic and long lasting than initially anticipated. This latest decision by the EU indicates that there is more upheaval to come,” Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, chairman of Henley & Partners, explained in the July report. “We see an emergence of a new global hierarchy in terms of mobility, with countries that have effectively managed the pandemic taking the lead, and countries that have handled it poorly falling behind.”

The methodology

While the Passport Index by Arton takes into account the passports of 193 United Nations member countries plus six territories (ROC Taiwan, Macao, Hong Kong, Kosovo, Palestinian Territory, and the Vatican) in its rankings, it excludes territories annexed to other countries—like French Polynesia and the British Virgin Islands—in its list of possible travel destinations that passport holders can access. The Henley Passport Index ranks the same 199 passports, but it also cross-checks each of those passports against all 227 possible travel destinations in the world even if those territories don’t issue their own passports. Keep in mind that Arton’s rankings are more subject to change as COVID-19 travel restrictions begin to loosen. To see the full rankings, visit henleypassportindex.com and passportindex.org

This article originally appeared on January 16, 2020; it was updated on July 13, 2020, and again on October 6, 2020, to include current information.

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