The global coronavirus pandemic has dramatically altered the power of some of the world's strongest passports

By Stacey Leasca
Updated October 08, 2020 12:50 PM
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The Passport Index has named a new most powerful passport in the world.

The index, which puts out a real-time global ranking of the world’s passports, has gone into overdrive in 2020 as countries shut down borders and travel became more difficult for many across the globe. However, there is now one nation’s passport that allows people to still travel to more countries than any other: New Zealand.

New Zealand’s passport had previously held the number one spot alongside Japan, however, due to the coronavirus pandemic, Japan slipped into the number two spot alongside Germany, Australia, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Ireland, and Australia.

According to the rankings, those holding a New Zealand passport can now travel to 129 countries with visa-free access, up from just 80 countries six months ago at the height of the pandemic.

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
DAVID ROWLAND/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Still, there is a long way to go before New Zealanders are back to normal in terms of global access. As the New Zealand Herald noted, this new access number represents a 40 percent decrease in nations offering restriction-free travel to New Zealanders year over year.

According to the index, Sweden, Belgium, France, Finland, Italy, and Spain are all tied in third place, while the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Denmark, Portugal, Lithuania, Norway, Iceland, and Canada are tied in fourth.

As for the United States, it fell far from the top 10 list, now currently sitting in 21st place.

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“The data is clear: with temporary travel bans and visa restrictions, many countries which once held a powerful passport, are now ranking amongst the lowest in the world,” the passport ranking organization said.

“Through another lens, Passport Index shows the clear influence of the pandemic with its World Openness Score (WOS), the benchmark of open travel between countries," they continued. "Since its inception in 2015, the WOS has continued to increase at an average rate of 6 percent per year, reaching an all-time world openness of 54 percent back in December 2019.”

However, now, in a post-pandemic world, the WOS saw a “staggering decrease,” dropping 65 percent within weeks.

As for the last place finishers, that’s a tie between Afghanistan and Iraq, whose passport holders can only enter five other nations visa-free. Check out the entire list here.

This Story Originally Appeared On travelandleisure