Tag Archives: passports

If there were an Olympics of passports, Japan wouldn’t just be hosting it — it would be winning the whole competition

(CNN) — If there was an Olympics of passports, Japan wouldn’t just be hosting it — it’d be winning the whole competition.

The Henley Passport Index, which has been regularly monitoring the world’s most travel-friendly passports since 2006, has released its latest rankings and analysis.

As the index doesn’t take temporary restrictions into account, Japan is once again top of the leaderboard, with its passport offering visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 193 destinations around the world.

However, the Henley & Partners report says, in the first quarter of 2021 international mobility was still only 12% of its pre-pandemic levels, meaning “the gulf between theoretical and actual travel access offered by even high-ranking passports remains significant.”

In the real world, holders of Japanese passports theoretically have access right now to fewer than 80 destinations — about the same as the index ranking of Saudi Arabia, which sits down in 71st place (while Saudis currently have actual travel access to just 58 destinations).

The passport top 10 remains virtually unchanged as we enter the second half of the year, with Singapore remaining in second place (with a score of 192) and South Korea tying with Germany in third place (with a score of 191).

Again, in real-world terms, it’s a little different. Holders of Singaporean passports can right now access fewer than 75 destinations (equivalent to the index ranking of Kazakhstan, which is down in 74th place).

China and UAE biggest climbers

Even countries with highly successful Covid-19 vaccine rollouts are still bound by travel restrictions. The US and the UK are in joint seventh place on the index, alongside Switzerland, Belgium and New Zealand — having both steadily declined in passport power since holding the top spot together in 2014.

In theory, US and UK passport holders are able to access 187 destinations around the world, but the reality is that doors are only open to UK travelers in fewer than 60 destinations, while the US is just ahead at 61. That puts them on a par with Uzebkistan and Rwanda’s index rankings respectively.

As usual, most of the remaining top 10 spots on the index are held by EU countries. Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain are in fourth place; Austria, Denmark are at number five; while France, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden are together at number six. In terms of travel freedom, the big success stories of the past decade have been China and the United Arab Emirates.

Since 2011, China has climbed 22 places — from 90th position to 68th — while the UAE has gone all the way from No. 65 to No. 15. Its work on strengthening diplomatic ties around the world now means that its citizens are allowed easy access to 174 destinations, compared to the 67 destinations of a decade ago.

Japan holds onto the top spot for 2021.


Passport inequality

Christian H. Kaelin, chair of Henley & Partners, says that while we don’t know how long travel restrictions will continue, it’s clear that global mobility will be severely hampered for at least the rest of this year. “In many countries, serious doubts have arisen as to the ability to handle a global crisis, with the subsequent embrace of more inward-looking priorities.”

He adds, “Increasing isolationism and deglobalization will no doubt have profound consequences, among them further damage to the world’s economy (and) a significant reduction in global mobility.”

Henley has commissioned exclusive research and analysis, finding that international leisure travel remains less than 10% of pre-Covid levels and is largely regional.

There is also rising passport inequality in this new era.

Japanese passport holders have visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 167 more destinations than citizens of Afghanistan, who are at the bottom of the ranking as they can only visit 26 places without needing a visa in advance. That’s the biggest gap between countries since the index began, says Henley & Partners.

The decade ahead

“Widespread adoption of Covid passports appears to be an imminent reality for those able to access them,” says Robert Maciejewski, CEO of SIP Medical Family Office in Switzerland, in Henley’s report.

“Even if a legal obligation to obtain a Covid passport is unlikely in most democratic countries, not having one will probably result in de facto restrictions of your freedom, whether it comes to travel or to daily routine activities.”

Due to the global disparities in terms of vaccine access and rollout programs,”Covid passports will no doubt further widen passport inequality worldwide,” says Henley’s Kaelin.

IATA, the global trade association for airlines, welcomes the move by many countries to let vaccinated travelers skip quarantine, but also warns that the freedom to travel is something that should be available to all.

Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general, says, “Data shows us that vaccinated travelers should not be restricted. And screening can safely open borders for those without access to vaccination.”

The Henley report also comments on the protectionist approach taken by many governments in response to the pandemic, and the adoption of inward-looking policies. It suggests that if more countries took a collaborative approach, it would have have more beneficial effects globally.

Greg Lindsay, director of applied research at Canada-based non-profit NewCities, says: “As global cities and nations alike grapple with the ramifications of Covid-19, it’s critical they realize the true nature of the threat — and opportunity — before them.

Rather than dwelling on wealthy former residents now working from their second or third homes, they must focus on restoring the flow of immigrants. The cities that make themselves most hospitable to new arrivals in the wake of the pandemic are poised to be the capitals of the new Roaring Twenties.”

Germany has the highest-ranking European passport.

Alex Grimm/Getty Images

The best passports to hold in 2021 are:

1. Japan (193 destinations)

2. Singapore (192)

3. Germany, South Korea (191)

4. Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain (190)

5. Austria, Denmark (189)

6. France, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden (188)

7. Belgium, New Zealand, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States (187)

8. Czech Republic, Greece, Malta, Norway (186)

9. Australia, Canada (185)

10. Hungary (184)

The worst passports to hold

Several countries around the world have visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to fewer than 40 countries. These include:

108. North Korea (39 destinations)

109. Nepal (38)

110. Palestinian territories (37)

111. Somalia (34)

112. Yemen (33)

113. Pakistan (32)

114. Syria (29)

115. Iraq (28)

116. Afghanistan (26)

Other indexes

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 is based on data provided by the International Air Transport Authority (IATA) and covers 199 passports and 227 travel destinations. 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 mid-2021 index has New Zealand in the top spot, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 136.

Vaccine passports ‘useless’: Spanish travel agents' dire warning – ‘another lost summer’

“People don’t want to travel around Europe yet, they are scared. People are still afraid as it is all very recent and I really don’t see them looking forward to travelling internationally.”

He said that “the app will certainly help in the future” but this will be “another lost summer.”

“In terms of the tourism sector in Spain, this summer is going to be different, atypical,” said the travel agent.

“Last year was a disaster, for sure, and probably this year will be a bit better but Spain relies a lot on British tourism, and the UK has said that for now, Spain is not a safe country.

“I have been speaking with people in Benidorm that were complaining about their situation. If Britons don’t go to Benidorm, the city is empty,” Xavi explained.

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Travel Feed

Has the Government scrapped plans to use NHS app vaccine passports in the UK?

The UK Government will no longer force people to prove their vaccination status using the NHS app to enter nightclubs, theatres, football stadiums, and other venues, according to The Sunday Telegraph. While so-called “vaccine passports” are already in-use before travelling abroad, UK officials are currently working on a review into their use within the UK. The digital certificate is designed to prove that you’ve either had both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, or you’ve received a negative coronavirus test within the last few days. 

Concerts, football stadiums, theatres and festivals were all expected to rely on this app-based certificate – just like airports – to stop those likely to have the disease (or the worst reaction if they picked up a strain of the virus during the event) from attending. However, the UK officials working on the review into the use of Covid-19 status certificates believe the scheme is already dead in the water.

That’s because officials believe there’s no chance UK law will be changed to mandate the use of these passports within the UK, sources sold The Sunday Telegraph. However, when approached by Reuters, a Government spokesperson said that the Covid-19 vaccine certification review is “still in process” and “no decision has yet been made”.

We’d take that with a pinch of salt, however, as there has been mounting concerns over the prospect of vaccine certificates used across the Uk from within Boris Johnson’s own Conservative Party, as well as opposition lawmakers, and civil rights groups. In April, the Prime Minister himself nodded to some of the ethical issues posed by COVID-19 vaccine certification.

Google Photos to charge users from tomorrow – is it time to delete it?

Vaccine passports are already available today – and will be required for some flights abroad – but not needed to attend any football matches, theatres, cinemas, or any other venues now re-opening across England and Wales.

Confusingly, your vaccine passport is found in a completely separate app from the NHS Covid-19 one, which is used to stop the spread of coronavirus. The Covid-19 app is the one that uses Bluetooth to keep tabs on your proximity to other people – flagging when someone you’ve been in close contact with later tests positive for Covid-19 so that you can self-isolate, hopefully stopping the spread of the potentially fatal virus.

But while you’ll need to download the NHS Covid-19 app to scan QR codes when you enter pubs, restaurants, and cafés …something you’ll be doing a lot more of thanks to a change in advice from the Government, you will need the NHS app installed on your phone when abroad.

The much-discussed “vaccine passports” started to land in the NHS app on iPhone and Android when England moved into the next step of its lockdown roadmap on Monday May 17, 2021.

Whether the Government will confirm The Sunday Telegraph story in the coming days remains to be seen. If the issue is getting the law to enforce the use of Covid-19 passports within the UK, we’d imagine we’ll either see the bill go down in flames in the House of Commons …or the Government will just stop talking about the idea altogether.

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Tech Feed

Covid passports scrapped: No legal requirement to show jab status at large events

Officials working on the coronavirus status certification review reportedly do not believe the law will be changed. It was previously suggested entry to large events could be granted if they present proof of a Covid vaccination, a recent negative test or a positive antibody test for the virus.
Government ministers were looking at changing the law to require COVID-19 passports at football matches, concerts, festivals and business conferences.

However, sources close to the Government said the proposed plans are now “dead”.

One Government source said: “It’s not a case of ‘it’s finely balanced’.

“It’s not going to happen.

“Everyone says it is dead.”

Another source told The Telegraph: “No one is talking about it still as a potential thing.

“It has been killed off really.”

While the Government has decided not to change the law for Covid passports at large events, it does not mean such schemes will not be adopted in the future.

READ MORE: New NHS vaccine passport registers more than 1m new users

While showing proof of a jab has become accepted for international travel, their use domestically has raised ethical questions.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson already ruled out using Covid passports for activities such as visiting the supermarket or the GP.

Mr Johnson also hinted he is not in favour of their use in pubs or restaurants.

Michael Gove, appearing before a select committee on Thursday, stressed the Government was not yet decided on introducing COVID-19 passports.

He said: “I think there’s been a perception among some, not in this committee, that the Government has locked on to this in the same way as JFK said that he was going to put a man on the moon, that we’re going to introduce a policy for certification come what may, hell or high water.

“That’s not the case.

“We’ve been looking at it pragmatically, to see if it can add value and, if not, then we would not press ahead with it.”

A Whitehall source said: “Michael has been listening very carefully to the arguments for and against Covid certification and the review has left no stone unturned in examining whether there is a case for them domestically. He will make recommendations to the PM soon”.

A Government spokesman said: “The Covid status certification review is ongoing and no final decisions have been taken yet.

“The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster will update Parliament after recess.”

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: UK Feed

Vaccine passports launched in Scotland – how do they work?

Scotland has launched its own ‘vaccine passport’ for international travel as the country gears up for travelling abroad. The passport will give travellers from Scotland proof of their vaccination status in the form of a letter.

How does Scotland’s vaccine passport work?

A “vaccination status letter” can be downloaded online from the NHS Inform patient portal, or requested in the post via a Freephone Covid Status Helpline.

The service is open to those planning to travel to a country where a proof of vaccination status is required.

At present, there are no countries that require proof of vaccination from Scottish travellers, but the situation is likely to change as more countries open up.

The service has been brought in to take the pressure off GP practices having to issue letters to patients individually.

The system differs from the English one, where an NHS app – separate from its contact tracing app – can show vaccine status if enabled by a GP.

As more people are vaccinated, the system will be replaced by digital Covid status certificates – which will include vaccination and testing data to be used for outbound international travel.

Chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith said people should be cautious and only travel if necessary.

What are the travel rules for Scotland?

International travel is now permitted for Scots, using the same traffic light lists as England.

Green list countries currently include:

• Australia

• Brunei

• Falkland Islands

• Faroe Islands

• Gibraltar

• Iceland

• Israel and Jerusalem

• New Zealand

• Portugal (including the Azores and Madeira)

• Singapore

• South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands

• St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Travel Feed

Vaccine passports could 'exclude' some travellers from certain holidays warns expert

“This also creates inequities as not everyone will opt to take the vaccine.”Implementing new criteria and technology for travel during the pandemic makes sense, but the disparity in vaccine access, distribution and choice significantly complicates things.”

Already Israel has become one of the first nations to be utilising its own vaccine passport-style app internally, however, more countries are working to create their own in a bid to resume international flights.

However, highlighted some concerns over the use of an app in the UK.

“I believe the NHS app has had limited success so unless the vaccine app is more robust then, it will have limited take-up and success,” he said.

Despite this, if things do move ahead as planned, Mr Gower has high hopes for the future.

“I think if the vaccine app becomes widely available and the vaccine itself becomes also widely available then this should only assist the holiday experience and make it smoother with less hassle for international travel,” he said.

“I think the vaccine rollout has boosted confidence for the potential for people to travel abroad soon.”

He added: “The demand is definitely there for international foreign travel.

“A number of people have decided that any international travel in 2021 for a holiday is not on their list of priorities and are settling to book a 2022 holiday so they have something to look forward to.

“On the other side, there are a number of people who definitely want to travel as soon as they can and to where ever they are allowed to travel to.

“While holiday hungry Britons may be eagerly searching for their next getaway, it could be a long road ahead until things return to “normal”.

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Travel Feed

Covid passports: Why the US could be allowed into Europe for holidays before Brits

This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Travel Feed

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen offered encouragement for US residents hoping to holiday in the EU.

She told the New York Times: “The Americans, as far as I can see, use European Medicines Agency-approved vaccines. This will enable free movement and travel to the European Union.

“Because one thing is clear: all 27 member states will accept, unconditionally, all those who are vaccinated with vaccines that are approved by EMA.”

She said the travel situation would still depend “on the epidemiological situation, but the situation is improving in the United States, as it is, hopefully, also improving in the European Union”.

Most powerful passports in the world mapped – how strong is the British passport?

The Henley Passport Index found Japan’s passport offers its citizens the most freedom around the world. The number one spot has been held onto by the Asian country since 2018, using exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Japanese passport holders are theoretically able to access a record 193 destinations around the world visa-free.
These results contrast greatly to Afghanistan which came right at the bottom of the list.

An Afghan passport only gives access to 26 destinations.

These results indicate that the gap in travel freedom is now at its largest since the index began in 2006.

Other countries of note in the index were China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).


China has risen by 22 places in the ranking since 2011, from 90th position with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of just 40 to 68th position with a score of 77.

Similarly, in 2011, the UAE was ranked 65th with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 67.

However today, thanks to the Emirates’ ongoing efforts to strengthen diplomatic ties with countries across the globe, it is ranked 15th with a score of 174.

The Index is the original ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa.

The latest findings provide exclusive insight into what post-pandemic travel freedom might look like as countries around the world selectively begin to open their borders to international visitors.

Commenting on the latest ranking, Dr Christian H. Kaelin, Chairman of Henley & Partners and the inventor of the passport index concept, says the past year has demonstrated that no government is infallible – even the world’s superpowers and wealthiest nations floundered – and many failed their citizens.

“While nobody expects a return to pre-pandemic mobility levels anytime soon, the outlook now is certainly more hopeful than it was even a few months ago,” Kaelin said.

“The latest Henley Passport Index ranking is a reminder that economic recovery and development are dependent on global mobility, including personal travel freedom, and that passport power should never be taken for granted.”

Most powerful passports 2021

Japan – 193

Singapore – 192

South Korea & Germany – 191

Italy, Finland, Spain & Luxembourg – 190

Denmark & Austria – 189

Sweden, France, Portugal, Netherlands & Ireland – 188

Switzerland, USA, UK, Belgium & New Zealand – 187

Norway, Greece, Malta & Czech Republic – 186

Canada & Australia – 185

Slovakia, Lithuania, Hungary & Poland – 183

This article originally appeared on Daily Express :: Travel Feed