World's most powerful passports during COVID-19: Australian passport now second most powerful

Australians now enjoy the second-most powerful passport in the world, with COVID-19 travel restrictions bumping us up the list.

The Passport Index by Arton Capital, a citizenship and financial advisory firm, gives passports a "Mobility Ranking" based on the number of countries the passport allows access to without a visa, with visa on arrival, or with a visa in advance.

The latest rankings have seen New Zealanders climb to the top of the table, with a Mobility Ranking of 129. Kiwi passports allow visa-free access to 86 countries with a further 43 offering visa on arrival.

Australia ranks equal second with a score of 128, with 85 visa-free countries and 43 offering visa on arrival.

Other countries with a score of 128 are Germany, Austria, Ireland, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Japan and South Korea.

The rankings did not factor in that Australians are currently prevented from leaving their own country by the federal government, except under special circumstances. However, data shows Border Force is likely to approve applications from Australians who plan to leave the country for at least three months.

The number of Australians applying for or renewing a passport this year has plummeted as a result of the ban on international travel.

Hrant Boghossian from Arton Capital said Australia still enjoyed the advantage of being welcomed by more countries than most other travellers.

"Citizens of many countries don't have the opportunity to be accepted openly in as many countries as Australians do," he said. "Access is a privilege and must be used wisely, especially now in times of pandemic."

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He said Australia's mobility ranking had dropped to 79 earlier in the year as the pandemic spread, placing it at equal 19th in the rankings, but had since recovered by 62 per cent to its current score of 128. This was much higher than the global average, which is only 15 per cent.

Australia's comparatively low COVID-19 infection numbers mean a large number of countries still allow Australians to enter without requiring quarantine. The UK, US and most of the European Union will currently allow Australians in, while on Monday Singapore also started allowing Australians to enter, with the exception of Victorians. Australia is also reportedly on a list of 10 priority countries that will be the first to be allowed to visit once Japan begins allowing tourists.

United States citizens have faced travel bans from several countries, which has seen their mobility ranking dropped to equal 21st from third place prior to the outbreak.

The world's least powerful passports remained those either involved in conflict or recovering from it, with Iraq and Afghanistan at the bottom of the list, closely followed by Syria, Somalia and Yemen.

Another passport ranking index by Henley and Partners does not take into account COVID-19-related travel restrictions and has Japan in the No.1 slot. Australia is ranked equal ninth in that list.

However, Henley and Partners did state that, taking the restrictions into account, the US would fall from equal seventh to equal 25th in its rankings.

Global Passport Power Rank 2020

  1. New Zealand 129
  2. Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Ireland, South Korea, Japan, Australia 128
  3. Sweden, Belgium, France, Finland, Italy, Spain 127
  4. Netherlands, Denmark, Portugal, Lithuania, Norway, Iceland, UK, Canada 126
  5. Malta, Slovenia, Latvia 125
  6. Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Poland, Hungary, Liechtenstein 124
  7. Slovakia 123
  8. Cyprus, Croatia, Monaco 121
  9. Romania, Bulgaria 120
  10. San Marino, Andorra, Uruguay 115

See also: We can't use our passports, so is it worth renewing one?

See also: The countries open to Australian tourists (but we're not allowed to go)

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