U.S. Passport Power Plummets

As countries around the world adjust border policies to mitigate the impact of COVID-19, the power of the U.S. passport has dropped significantly.

The Henley Passport Index ranks the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa. 

This month, the Henley Passport Index released its latest report with a caveat that the report’s rankings do not show the full impact of COVID-19 travel restrictions. 

Taking these restrictions into account— such as the EU’s recent decision not to allow U.S. tourists— the Index’s rankings shift dramatically

The American passport typically ranks sixth or seventh, providing access to 185 destinations without a prior visa. Given current restrictions, however, the U.S. passport now holds the same power as passports from Uruguay and Mexico, ranked 28th and 25th respectively prior the COVID-19 travel bans.

Many economies around the world depend on tourism. Officials in these countries will have to grapple with balancing public health with economic growth. Countries that have not successfully “flattened the curve” or slowed daily infection rates— such as the U.S. where infection rates are rising in 46 states— will continue to feel the impact of these travel restrictions. 

The recent decision by the EU is an indication of further upheaval in the tourism industry to come as the global community continues to fight the pandemic.