A report by Henley & Partners, the firm behind the Henley Passport Index, indicates that the strength of some of the world's most powerful passports has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The index is the original ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa.

A table covered with items: a camera, passport with two US dollars sticking out, a notebook and a pen, sunglasses, and headphones
Having visa-free access to countries makes things easier for travelers © boonchai wedmakawand/Getty Images

Having visa-free access to countries makes things easier for travelers, as they don't have to go through a long or expensive application process to visit other countries. Prior to COVID-19, the US passport usually ranked around sixth or seventh place on the Henley Passport Index, with its citizens able to access 185 destinations around the world without requiring a visa in advance in the latest ranking. However the EU recently released a list of countries whose residents would be allowed entry into the bloc from 1 July based on coronavirus-related health and safety criteria, and the US, Brazil and Russia were excluded.

Different foreign passports from many countries as a colourful background
The strength of some of the world's most powerful passports has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic © Sergey Shik/Shutterstock

Although not reflected in the latest ranking, which does not take temporary travel bans into account, US nationals now only have visa-free/visa-on-arrival entry into 158 countries, taking into account EU restrictions. This is the current situation despite it ranking in seventh place on the latest index. In addition, Brazilian passport holders find their passport strength greatly diminished. The country usually ranks highly on the index and most recently placed 19th, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 170. Loss of access to the EU brings it down to 143.

A hand holding a red Russian passport
Russia is temporarily excluded from entry into the EU bloc © Yulia Grigoryeva/Shutterstock

Without taking the various travel bans and restrictions into account, Japan continues to hold the number one spot on the Henley Passport Index with a score of 191. You can see the full Henley Passport Index ranking here.

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