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Travel Bans Curtail US Travel Freedoms

According to the Henley Passport Index, temporary Covid-19 travel bans have taken the shine off possessing a US passport

Published on July 30, 2020

Insights from the Henley Passport Index have revealed the extent to which temporary coronavirus travel bans have severly dented travel freedoms for Americans.

Although the regular Passport Index rankings do not take into account the temporary bans, the latest Q3 update of the index described the situation as "eye-opening" when looking at how Americans have had their rights to travel international curtailed due to fears of spreading Covid-19.

The US passport tends to sit within the top 10 passports for reach and influence, often in 6th or 7th place, with US citizens able to visit 185 countries without a requiring a visa in advance. However, when considering the current travel bans, Henley & Partners, the firm behind the Index, report when factoring in the US travel ban to the EU, "US nationals now have roughly the same level of travel freedom as citizens of Uruguay (included on the EU's list of welcome countries), which ranks 28th on the index, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 153."

The report goes on to indicate that at present, Americans in the US "find themselves with a similar level of travel freedom usually available to citizens of Mexico (25th on the index, with a score of 159), current travel bans notwithstanding, albeit temporarily."

The situation for Americans living overseas already is quite different due to geography and residency, as the travel bans mainly apply to those in the US rather than specifically those who hold a US passport. According to The New York Times, "Travelers' country of residence, not their nationality, will be the determining factor for their ability to travel to countries" in the EU."

However, the extent to which the travel bans have curtailed the capacity for Americans to travel internationally should be something to be aware if for Americans who are planning to return to the US to see family and friends, or those aiming to return permanently.

Responding to the latest update, Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, Chairman of Investment at Henley & Partners, said "he pandemic's impact on travel freedom has been more drastic and long lasting than initially anticipated. This latest decision by the EU indicates that there is more upheaval to come. Look at the US passport, for example — in 2014, it held the number one spot in the world on our index, but US nationals currently have far less travel freedom than most citizens of other wealthy, industrialized nations and even of some less developed nations, being effectively locked out of Europe. We see an emergence of a new global hierarchy in terms of mobility, with countries that have effectively managed the pandemic taking the lead, and countries that have handled it poorly falling behind."

Further information on world passports and their reach can be found at www.henleypassportindex.com.

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