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New Zealand owns world’s most powerful passport

WELLINGTON: The New Zealand passport is now the “most powerful” travel document worldwide, according to the latest ranking by the Passport Index on Monday.

Amid chaotic travels caused by COVID-19, the Passport Index has put the New Zealand passport at the top of the country and region list, surpassing Japan which has slipped back to the second.

The Passport Index is one of the several in-dices which measure the amount of visa-free world travel. It looks at the passports of 193 United Nations members and six territories.

Various factors influence the ranking, including a mobility score, visa requirements, electronic travel authorisation, and a world openness score. COVID-19 measures and restrictions have played a role in the ranking.

New Zealand currently has visa-free access, or visa on entry, to 129 countries and regions, up from 80 during the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year. However, last year, the number of countries and regions, to which New Zealand has visa-free access, was 169.

The U.S. passport has dropped to the 21st in the ranking due to the poor handling of COVID-19 and the fact that not many countries and regions welcome U.S. travelers.

Beside New Zealand and Japan, the top 10 in the ranking includes Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Ireland, South Korea and Australia, mostly European countries.

The Passport Index was launched by Arton Capital, a financial services firm with a head office in Montreal, Canada, in 2014. The Passport Index is the original interactive passport ranking tool in the world.

It is the only real-time global ranking of the world’s passports, updated as frequently as new visa waivers and changes are implemented, according to its official website.

M M Alam

M. M. Alam is a Pakistan-based working journalist since 1981. Karachi University faculty gold medalist Alam began his career four decades ago by writing for Dawn, Pakistan’s highest circulating English daily. He has worked for region’s leading publications, global aviation periodicals including Rotors (of USA) and vetted New York Times as permanent employee of daily Express Tribune. Alam regularly covers international aviation and defense-related events including Salon Du Bourget (France), Farnborough (United Kingdom), Dubai (UAE). Alam has reported thousands of events and interviewed hundreds of people in Pakistan, UAE, EU, UK and USA. Being Francophone Alam also coordinates with a number of French publications.