Passport strength is all but meaningless as COVID-19 encases the globe.
Rabat – Passport holders who could previously travel to over 180 countries without visa constraints find themselves unable to leave their country in light of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Many countries, both developing and developed, have issued lockdowns or international travel bans. With the epicenter of the pandemic shifting west from China, European passports have essentially lost their standing.
Italians, who can technically access 116 countries visa-free, are currently unable to enter Vatican City, an independent city-state enclaved within Rome.
With passports gaining their strength from varying levels of restrictions on international movements, COVID-19 is resetting the world’s nationalities on an equal footing.
Earlier this year, the Japanese passport ranked first place in the Henley Passport Index, granting access to 191 countries, followed by Singapore with 190 countries and Germany with 189 countries.
The three lowest ranking countries were Syria (29 countries), Iraq (28 countries), and Afghanistan (26 countries), according to the same source.
“Countries with a business-friendly environment tend to score highly when it comes to passport power … We found a strong correlation between personal freedom and travel freedom,” the distributor of the index stated in a press release.
Such rankings are all but meaningless in the era of COVID-19, as countries including Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, India, France, Italy, Malaysia, Belgium, Kenya, Kuwait, Canada, Qatar, and Russia have all restricted or completely barred the entry of foreigners.
Passports will most likely regain their rankings once the world overcomes the COVID-19 pandemic, but perhaps the current situation will prompt legislators around the world to rethink their countries’ entry conditions, which are often time-consuming and costly to applicants, whose entry could be of great value to economies and societies.