Even as the world continues to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, Japan tops the list of being the most powerful passport in the world for the year 2021, according to the latest report by the Henley Passport Index.

Pakistan (rank 107) and Nepal (rank 104) continue to be in the ‘worst passports to hold’ category as reported by CNN with Pakistan having a visa-free score of 32 countries and Nepal having a score of 38 destinations.

Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan continue to be the countries with the worst passport to hold with a passport score of 29, 28 and 26 respectively.

According to the report released on January 5, Japanese citizens can travel to as many as 191 countries visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 191 destinations around the world. Singapore is in second place (with a score of 190) and South Korea ties with Germany in third place (with a score of 189).

Countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Switzerland are tied at the seventh position with regard to the most powerful passports in the world with a visa-free score of 185. Australia stands at the 8th position with a visa score of 184.

India ranks 85th in the most powerful passport report with a visa-free score of 58.

According to a statement by Henley and Partners, the ascendance of APAC countries in the Henley Passport Index rankings is a relatively new phenomenon adding, “Over the index’s 16-year history, the top spots were traditionally held by EU countries, the UK, or the US and experts suggest that the APAC region’s position of strength will continue as it includes some of the first countries to begin the process of recovering from the (COVID-19) pandemic.”

With the US and the UK still facing significant challenges related to the virus, and the passport strength of both countries continuing to “steadily erode”, the balance of power is shifting, the company’s report stated.

Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, Chairman of leading residence and citizenship advisory firm Henley & Partners and the inventor of the passport index concept, says that the latest ranking provides an opportunity to reflect on the extraordinary upheaval that characterised 2020.

“Just a year ago all indications were that the rates of global mobility would continue to rise, that travel freedom would increase, and holders of powerful passports would enjoy more access than ever before,” the chairman said as quoted by the statement.

“The global lockdown negated these glowing projections, and as restrictions begin to lift, the results from the latest index are a reminder of what passport power really means in a world upended by the pandemic,” Kaelin added. (ANI)