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US bounces back as Q3 global passport rankings revealed

DUBAI, July 6, 2021

The Passport Index, the first real time interactive resource for individuals and government agencies on global mobility, has announced the Q3 2021 passport power rankings, with the US one of the biggest gainers and Germany and New Zealand topping the list. Overall, the increase in global mobility was up by 6.5 per cent, at the time of writing.
 
A previous, pre-Covid holder of the number one passport ranking, the UAE moves up from 14, at the end of 2020, into joint third place – the highest-ranking country of any Arab and Mena nation and the only one in the global top 10.
 
The Passport Index’s Mobility Score (MS) is based on adding two key figures – the number of countries for which a passport has visa-free entry (VF) and the number it can obtain a visa on arrival (VOA). These totals determine the passport rank, with New Zealand (92-VF/44-VOA) ranked top, going into Q3, with a score of 136. At the time of writing, the UAE passport currently has access to 86 countries, visa free, and 48 countries with visas obtainable on arrival, for a MS score of 134.
 
Over H1 2021, the top performing passports on the index often show a correlation between a commitment by governments to openness or swift diplomacy between nations, as well as those who are better managing the global Covid crisis, within their borders. These include the UAE (+11), Israel (+13), and the US (+16).
 
“It is safe to say that the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic is behind us, as we see more and more countries safely opening up their borders,” says Armand Arton, Founder and President of Arton Capital, and the creator of The Passport Index. 
 
“Innovations are often born in times of crisis and we are starting to see this happening in the travel industry as well with the future of travel looking a lot different than before the pandemic,” added Arton.
 
According to The Passport Index’s proprietary World Openness Score tool, which offers both a real time and periodic barometer of global mobility, the trends at the end of H1 2021 show that while some nations such as the US (+16 places) continue to rebound, a number are still in the throes of combating Covid-19 and remain stagnant in the rankings, with government health and travel restrictions accounting for much of the lack of movement. 
 
The trends seem to suggest that as we are only approaching pre-Covid levels of openness and global mobility, the biggest gainers in 2021, so far, are those countries who have managed the pandemic most effectively and are nearing a sense of normality – after all countries’ mobility scores fell heavily at the height of the Covid pandemic.
 
Commenting on the platform’s and the mobile app’s key offerings, Vice-president of Marketing, Arton Capital, Hrant Boghossian, said: “The Passport Index reinvented the way we look at passports with the world’s first interactive, real-time barometer on the state of global mobility.”
 
“The Passport Index is more than just a simple ranking tool; unlike other indicators on global mobility, the Passport Index’s data engine can reflect the temporary and often disruptive geo-political or pandemic-related travel restrictions – in real time. In addition, the index’s ability to offer insights across a number of socio-political influencers means that many foreign ministries around the world are already using the platform to analyse and compare their policies with others,” added Boghossian.
 
REGIONAL OVERVIEW
In the GCC, only the UAE saw a significant uptick in H1 2021, gaining eight places to fifth position. Other GCC nations remain in roughly similar positions in the rankings over this period: Bahrain (-5/45), Kuwait (-7/42), Oman (-4/49), Qatar (-6/40), and Saudi Arabia (-5/50).
 
One Middle East country saw a more significant rise in the rankings than others, in H1 2021, with the determining factors unusually being more political than health-related; and that was Israel. With many Arab countries following suit, in the aftermath of the UAE-Israel Abrahamic Accords Peace Agreement, Israeli citizens and investors have now gained access to many other Arab countries, over this period. Partly as a consequence of this historic agreement, the Israeli passport jumped 13 places to a global ranking of 13th.
 
Europe: Outside of the EU, the biggest moves in passport power were seen for Serbia (+12/24th), North Macedonia (+13/29th), and Albania (+12/32nd). On the other hand, the two major industrialised nations, outside of the EU – the UK and Norway – both dropped to fifth (-1) and sixth (-3) place, respectively.
 
Within the EU, despite the recent introductions of vaccine passports, movement in passport strength has largely been static, with most changes – if any – moving only by a single ranking position in either direction. That said, many EU immigration policies are unified as a bloc, so these countries will tend to move in a similar direction, as a whole; in addition to the fact that European passports are already some of the strongest for global mobility and currently dominate the top 10 list. The most improved EU passports were the Czech Republic (+2/4th), Malta (+2/5th), and Slovakia (+2/5th).
 
The Americas: Unsurprisingly, following the ramp up of its vaccination programme during this period, the US has seen some of the biggest gains on the index (+16 places), over H1 2021. This has resulted in the world’s number one economy bouncing back from 19th place, in December 2020, to third, just after the midway point of this year. Canada (8) and Mexico (20) also gained ten and six places, respectively, with South America’s biggest gain coming from Colombia – up seven places to 33.
 
Africa: Having been affected much later than the rest of the world by the global pandemic, it was anticipated that the continent of Africa would continue to battle the impact of Covid restrictions, in 2021, and this has proved true, with very few positive changes over the last six months. In fact, only eight out of Africa’s 54 countries showed any positive gains, with 20 dropping down the rankings, during this time. The biggest gains seen in this region were not on the continental landmass, but actually came from offshore in Mauritius (+6/26th) and the Seychelles (+9/21st).
 
Asia: As one approaches the opening of the summer Olympics, in Japan, reports suggest that a while a low number of Japanese nationals have received the Covid vaccine, Japan’s passport still remain one of the world’s strongest ranked travel documents – in third place (at time of writing) – and up four places from 6th, at the beginning of H1 2021, with a mobility score (MS) of 135. China, the world’s second largest economy, saw a far more modest gain over the first half of the year, moving up two places to 50, with the Kingdom of Brunei seeing the Asian region’s biggest positive upswing, with an eight-place gain, at 19.
 
EURO DOMINANCE IN TOP 10
Due to joint placements in the rankings, a total of 40 passports feature in The Passport Index’s global top 10 list; however only eight from that 40 were not in Europe (including UK), with the UAE the only Mena representative. Other than the UAE (3), they are: Australia (2), Canada (8), Japan (3), New Zealand (1), Singapore (6), South Korea (3), and the US (3).
 
Top 10 passports WOS changes and MS scores (199 countries/territories)
All rankings and MS scores are correct as of the time of writing (6th July 2021)
 
1st: New Zealand (+2) Total MS: 136
Joint 2nd: Germany (-1), Spain (=2), Australia (+5). Total MS: 135
Joint 3rd: Finland (-1), Austria (+1), Italy (+1), Switzerland (+1), Rep. of Ireland (+1), Japan (+3), South Korea (+2), USA (+16), UAE (+11). Total MS: 134
Joint 4th: Sweden (-2), Netherlands (=4), Denmark (-1), Belgium (+1), France (=4), Portugal (=4), Luxembourg (=4), Czech Republic (+2), Hungary (+1). Total MS: 133
Joint 5th: Malta (+2), Slovenia (+1), Greece (-1), Poland (=5), Slovakia (+2), UK (-1). Total MS: 132
Joint 6th: Singapore (+7), Norway (-3), Lithuania (-1). Total MS: 131
Joint 7th: Estonia (-1), Latvia (-1). Total MS: 130
Joint 8th. Iceland (-2), Canada (+10). Total MS: 129
Joint 9th: Cyprus (-1), Croatia (=9), Liechtenstein (-1), Romania (=9). Total MS 128
10th: Bulgaria (=10). Total MS: 127
 
10 weakest passports WOS changes and MS scores 
* All rankings and MS scores are correct as of the time of writing (6th July 2021)
 
Joint 74th: Bangladesh (-3), South Sudan (-4), Libya (-3), Dem. Rep. Congo (-5), Sudan (-4), North Korea (-3) Total MS: 42
Joint 75th: Ethiopia (-3), Nepal (-3), Sri Lanka (-5), Rep. of Congo (-6). Total MS: 41
76th: Eritrea (-3). Total MS: 39
77th: Palestinian Territories (-3), Myanmar (-4). Total MS: 38
78th: Iran (-4). Total MS: 36
Joint 79th. Yemen (-4), Pakistan (-5). Total MS: 35
80th: Somalia (-4). Total MS: 34
81st: Syria (-5). Total MS: 32
82nd: Iraq (-5). Total MS: 31
83rd: Afghanistan (-6). Total MS: 30 -- TradeArabia News Service
 



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