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US and UK Passport Power Declines

American and British Passports drop to sixth in Henley Passport Index

Published on July 8, 2019

According to the Q3 2019 update to the Henley Passport Index, UK and US passports may no longer pack as much power for globally mobile individuals. The Index, which ranks passports according to the number of destinations a holder can travel to without a prior visa, has placed UK and US passports at joint sixth place, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 183 (representing 183 countries). In 2014, the US and UK were among a number of countries at joint first place, with scores of 174.

The Index, which utilizes data from IATA (The International Air Travel Association), puts Japan and Singapore at top joint spot for Q3 2019, with scores of 189. South Korea, Germany and Finland are in second spot, with scores of 187, whilst Denmark, Italy and Luxembourg (186); France, Sweden and Spain (185); Austria, Netherlands, Portugal and Switzerland (184); and Norway (183) all sit above the UK and US.

In a press release issued by Henley & Partners, the firm behind the Passport Index, it is suggested that "With nationalism on the rise, and global powerhouses like the UK and the US embracing policies that limit freedom of movement, this new research indicates that associated impacts on political rights, rule of law, security and democracy could be profound".

Commenting on the developments in Q3 2019's update, Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, Chairman of Henley & Partners and the creator of the passport index concept, says: "With a few notable exceptions, the latest rankings from the Henley Passport Index show that countries around the world increasingly view visa-openness as crucial to economic and social progress. Discussions of passport power and global mobility tend to focus on the benefits for the countries with the strongest passports. However, this latest unique research appears to confirm something that many of us already knew intuitively: that increased visa-openness benefits the entire global community, and not just the strongest countries."

Henlay & Partners also point towards research by political science researchers Uğur Altundal and Ömer Zarpli, of Syracuse University and the University of Pittsburgh respectively, which has "found that that there is a link between visa-openness and progressive reform, and that a county’s ranking on the index reveals far more than simply the number of destinations its holders are able to access. Altundal and Zarpli’s unique research shows that even short-term travel mobility, which represents 85% of all cross-border movements, can positively influence political liberalization and democratization. Conversely, countries moving towards nationalist isolationism and away from policies that encourage visa-openness are likely to drop in the Henley Passport Index rankings and incur geopolitical consequences for themselves and their neighbors."

You can see more details and information on the Henley Passport Index and how it may affect global mobility by checking out www.henleypassportindex.com

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