Henley Passport Index Results Trace Geopolitical Shockwaves as New Iron Curtain Descends


(Adnkronos) – LONDON, April 5, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Six weeks after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the impact on travel freedom and mobility has been more dramatic than even the most pessimistic commentators predicted at the war’s outset. The latest results from the Henley Passport Index — the original ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa — clearly illustrate the war’s profound and perhaps irreversible impact on freedom of movement within the region as a new Iron Curtain descends. 

The invasion has triggered the worst refugee crisis in Europe since World War II, with more than 4 million Ukrainians having fled to neighbouring countries. The EU, US, Canada, and other Western countries have closed their airspaces to Russia, imposed stiff travel bans on individual Russian citizens, and in many cases have stopped processing visa applications altogether, effectively condemning the Russian passport to junk status throughout much of the developed world. 

In stark contrast, the EU has approved an emergency plan allowing Ukrainians to live and work in any of its 27 member states for up to three years while other Western countries have adjusted their visa policies in favor of Ukrainian passport holders or waived visa requirements altogether. According to the latest Henley Passport Index, which is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Ukraine currently has a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 143, a record high for the country, which now ranks 34th on the index (having climbed 26 places since 2012), while Russia trails behind in 49th place, with a score of 117 — a gap that is likely to widen in the coming months.   

Elsewhere on the ranking, Japan and Singapore continue to share number one spot, with their passport holders able to access 192 destinations around the world visa-free, not taking temporary Covid restrictions into account. Germany and South Korea hold joint-2nd place, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 190, while Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, and Spain share 3rd place, with their passport holders able to access 189 destinations around the world without having to acquire a visa in advance. The UK, which recently dropped all remaining Covid-related restrictions, now sits in 5th place, with a score of 187, with the US just one place behind in 6th spot, with a score of 186. Afghanistan remains at the bottom of the index with its nationals only able to access 26 destinations visa-free. 

Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, Chairman of Henley & Partners, says the latest update provides a unique snapshot of a volatile and rapidly changing world. “As the value of the Russian passport rapidly declines and the world opens its doors to Ukrainians, it is abundantly clear that the passport you hold determines your fate and dramatically impacts the opportunities you have. While it is impossible to predict what the world will look like in the shadow of a new Cold War, the latest index suggests that the divide between Russia and much of the Western world will only increase.” 

Commenting in the Henley Global Mobility Report 2022 Q2, released today along with the latest Henley Passport Index, Dr. Parag Khanna, bestselling author and Founder of FutureMap says creative solutions will be needed as mass migration becomes the norm. “When faced with war or climate disruptions our fight or flight instinct kicks in and the sensible response has been to move in search of more suitable conditions. We are becoming a migratory species again. In the coming decades climate disruptions threaten to make some regions of our planet uninhabitable, and millions, if not billions, of people will need to find new homes.” 

According to exclusive research by Henley & Partners and Deep Knowledge Analytic
s into the correlation between passport power, and climate change vulnerability and preparedness, wealthy and developed nations with the greatest visa-free access also score highly when it comes to their readiness to adapt to the climate crisis. Charles Phillips of the Oxford Business Group says, “We can see close correlations between climate adaptation performance and international travel freedom. It brings into stark reality the fact that your citizenship and passport really do matter when it comes to mitigating climate risk”. 

Sebastian Mikosz, Vice President of Environment and Sustainability at IATA, says forecasts indicate demand for 10 billion passenger journeys by 2050 (up from around 4 billion pre-pandemic). “Much of this growth will come from passengers who have never had the opportunity to fly before: in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. We owe it to this next generation of flyers to find sustainable solutions, so they can enjoy and benefit from air travel as we have done so far.” 

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