(CNN) — A trio of Asian passports offer their holders greater global travel freedom than those of any other countries, according to a new quarterly report released by London-based global citizenship and residence advisory firm Henley & Partners.
Japan has pushed ahead of Singapore and South Korea to offer its citizens visa-free or visa-on-demand access to a record 193 destinations around the world, compared with the other two leaders’ 192.
However, Asia’s more cautious response to COVID-19 means those citizens are less likely to currently be making use of that travel freedom than people in Europe or the Americas.
International passenger demand for air travel in the Asia-Pacific region is still less than a fifth of pre-Covid levels, according to the latest statistics from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
By comparison, says the Henley Passport Index report, the markets in Europe and North America have recovered to around 60% of their previous travel mobility levels.
Below the Asian top three, European countries sit near the top of the leaderboard. Germany and Spain are tied at 190 destinations, followed by Finland, Italy and Luxembourg at 189.
The United States is tied for 17th, at 186.
Afghan nationals sit at the bottom of the index once again and can access just 27 countries without requiring a visa in advance. Just above Afghanistan are Iraq (29 destinations), Syria (30) and Pakistan (32).
However, as travel restrictions ease, there are hopeful signs that lower-ranking passports are beginning to recover clout.
Indian passport holders now have similar travel freedom to that they enjoyed pre-pandemic, says the report, with unrestricted access to 57 destinations around the world (compared just 23 destinations in 2020).
Due to the invasion of Ukraine, Russian passport holders are more cut off from the rest of the world than ever before.
The index does not take temporary restrictions or airspace closures into account, so while the Russian passport currently sits at 50th place on the index, with a visa-free or visa-free on arrival score of 119, the reality is that Russian citizens are effectively barred from accessing many of those destinations.
The best passports to hold in July 2022 are:
1. Japan (193 destinations)
2 (tie). Singapore, South Korea (192 destinations)
4 (tie). Germany, Spain (190 destinations)
6 (tie). Finland, Italy, Luxembourg (189 destinations)
9 (tie). Austria, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden (188 destinations)
13 (tie). France, Ireland, Portugal, United Kingdom (187 destinations)
17 (tie). Belgium, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, United States (186 destinations)
22 (tie). Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Greece, Malta (185 destinations)
27. Hungary (183 destinations)
28 (tie). Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia (182 destinations)
Henley & Partner’s list is one of several indexes created by financial firms to rank global passports according to the access they provide to their citizens.
The Henley Passport Index ranks 199 passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa. It is updated in real time throughout the year, as and when visa policy changes come into effect.
Arton Capital’s Passport Index takes into consideration the passports of 193 United Nations member countries and six territories — ROC Taiwan, Macau (SAR China), Hong Kong (SAR China), Kosovo, Palestinian Territory and the Vatican. Territories annexed to other countries are excluded.
Its 2022 index has the United Arab Emirates in the top spot, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 171.
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