Brexit: UK Passport standing in 2021

Brexit: UK Passport standing in 2021

A passport is an important document for international travellers. Each country’s passport is different and not all are as strong as the other. 

The Henley Passport Index is an annual ranking of the most powerful passports in the world based on how many destinations the holder can enter without a visa. Having visa-free access to countries makes things easier for international travellers, as they don't have to go through a long or expensive application process to visit other countries. 

To determine the rankings, the firm looked at exclusive data obtained from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which holds the world's largest database of travel information, accompanied by its own research. 

The ranking is determined in the number of countries the passport permits you to travel as a tourist and visa-free. Being “visa-free” includes visas on arrival and the current rankings do not take temporary restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic into account.

The annual rankings allow travellers to see how their passport compares to other passports.

Visa-Free Access Post Brexit

As the UK left the European Union, British nationals can still visit EU countries without a visa albeit at a shorter period. This means that Brexit has not essentially affected visa-free travel to EU nations.

Currently, the UK ranked in seventh place, a step higher than the previous year, alongside Belgium, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and the USA, with visa-free access to185 countries. 

On the other hand, the UK passport is behind other EU countries including Germany, with 189 countries, Italy and Spain with 188, and France with 186.

According to Henley & Partners, they believe that the challenges associated with global pandemic won’t help the UK. Whilst the UK is in seventh place on the list with access to 185 countries, during the pandemic British nationals can travel to less than 70 countries.

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World Ranking for 2021 – Q1

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

Japan has the most freedom with a visa-free or visa-on-arrival score of 191. This marks the third consecutive year that it has held the top spot, either alone or jointly with Singapore, which now comes in second place with a score of 190. Germany, who has come third on the ranks, has emerged as the most powerful European passport.

The Henley Passport Index has been measured for the past 16 years and usually, it was most of the EU countries, the UK and the U.S which held the top spots and were the most powerful and considered as the most coveted passports. However, the balance of power has shifted, there is a trend now for Asia-Pacific countries to be the most powerful passports.

Passport’s Strength

The global pandemic has made it increasingly obvious that a passport’s richness isn’t related just to the economic clout of a nation, the response to the nation's health risk has become a top priority. Failure to protect, monitor and detect citizens' health risks has affected the mobility of travellers and has decreased the desirability and power of some passports.

Passports now contain biometric data with information such as personal characteristics and measurements. Experts believe that passports will increasingly come to include health information allowing ‘safe travel’ across foreign territories with the healthiest people passing freely across borders.

What are your thoughts on the new ranking? Will the UK hold its ground or will it drop on the next ranking? Tell us your thoughts in the comment section below.

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