The Henley Passport Index has released its January 2022 ranking of the world's most powerful passports and Canada continues to rank among the strongest—but the global travel landscape has changed dramatically.
Each quarter, the Henley Passport Index presents its ranking of passports according to the number of countries travellers can enter without having to apply for a visa in advance. The renowned London-based consultancy, which helps governments develop citizenship-by-investment programs, bases the ranking on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and additional in-house research.
Report authors note that the results from the index show "record-breaking levels of travel freedom" from the top-ranking countries Japan and Singapore, but also the "widest recorded global mobility gap since the index’s inception 17 years ago." Passport holders of the two top nations can now enter 192 destinations around the world visa-free, which is a staggering 166 more than Afghanistan, which sits at the bottom of the index.
Henley also describes how the Omicron variant had a drastic impact on the mobility of poorer, mainly African countries who were met with punitive restrictions due to rising cases of the newly-discovered strain. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described the travel bans as akin to “travel apartheid."
Despite the pandemic, several countries continue to enjoy increased freedom to travel visa-free to numerous countries around the world. But there is a stark divide between countries in the northern versus southern hemispheres, report authors note. For example, Americans and Swedes may visit over 180 destinations visa-free while "passport holders from Angola, Cameroon, and Laos are able to enter only about 50."
Germany and South Korea are tied in second in the latest ranking, with passport holders able to access 190 destinations visa-free. Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, and Spain share third place, with a score of 189.
Austria, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, and Sweden share the fourth spot (188), while Ireland and Portugal tied for fifth (187).
The United States, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Norway, New Zealand, and Belgium share the sixth spot, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 186.
Canada shares seventh place with Australia, Greece, Malta, and the Czech Republic, with visa-free access to a whopping 185 countries.