New Zealand now the most powerful passport in the world
In a year full of travel misery and Covid chaos, there is one ironic bright spot – the New Zealand passport is now the world’s most powerful according to one visa index. The little black book had held the title jointly with Japan, but the latest ranking shows NZ out on its own at the top.
The Passport Index is one of several indices which measure the amount of visa-free world travel. It looks at the passports of 193 United Nations member countries and six territories. It shows that New Zealand currently has visa-free access, or visa on entry, to 129 countries. That’s up from 80 during the height of the coronavirus pandemic earlier in the year, but behind 2019’s total of 169.
Japan slips to second place, alongside joint entries Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Ireland, South Korea and Australia.
European countries make up the bulk of the top 10 list, as most retain access to the Schengen ‘free movement’ zone with few covid restrictions.
A notable absence from the top 10 is the United States, which fell to a low of 21st place in the passport rankings. While it has regained some footing since July, the freedom once enjoyed by US passport holders have been badly affected by the impact of Covid 19 on the country. In July the US passport dropped to an all-time low of 28th in the rankings below Mexico and Uruguay.
It was pointed out at the time by the index’s compilers that the US travel document provided roughly equivalent access to many of the countries the current Whitehouse administration had sought to block from its borders.