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US passports no more powerful than Rwanda's

The pandemic has dealt a blow to once-powerful passports.

The once-mighty United States passport today has the travel power equivalent to Rwanda, according to global mobility research published this week.

And what's more, the United Kingdom’s infamous navy blue passport trails even further, with a punch on a level with Uzbekistan.

According to the Henley Passport Index, a ranking of the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access visa-free, the pandemic has dealt a serious blow to these once-powerful travel documents.

Between January and March this year, international mobility was restored to just 12% of pre-pandemic levels. And so the gulf between theoretical and actual travel access remains significant, the report concludes.

Based on ‘theoretical’ travel options, Japan retains its number one spot, with visa-free access to 193 destinations. However, in reality the country remains in a semi-state of emergency with severely restricted travel. Japanese passports can currently access fewer than 80 destinations, which is equivalent to the passport power of Saudi Arabia in 71st place.

Singapore sits in second position with access, in normal times, to 192 countries and territories. But in this ‘new normal’ it can enter just 75 places, equivalent to Kazakhstan in 74th place.

The US and UK share joint seventh place on the index with access to 187 worldwide destinations apiece. But despite their extremely successful vaccination roll-outs, under current travel restrictions, UK passport holders have had their travel freedom slashed by 70% to fewer than 60 destinations while US passport holders can access just 61 areas.

The Henley Passport Index is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association. More details can be found online.

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