Japan has retained its position as the world's most powerful passport amid continued disruption to international travel.
Granting visa free access to 193 countries the Japanese travel document has held on the top ranking position, head of Singapore (192) and South Korea (191).
However, these familiar top travel document hides the overall weakening of previously high-value documents amid ongoing pandemic travel restrictions.
In spite of the current state of emergency ahead of the delayed 2020 Olympics, Japan has retained the top spot. However, when Covid travel restrictions are taken into account the Japanese passport's impressive 193 visa waiver countries drop to just 75. An effective power equivalent to the Saudi Arabian passport.
For most passports this "theoretical" visa free access does not reflect the number of temporary pandemic-related travel restrictions.
After holding the joint top spot, seven years ago the UK and US passports have hit an all time-low.
Sitting in joint seventh place on the rankings, the softening of these travel documents is even more dramatic when covid restrictions are taken into place. The theoretical 187 countries granting visa-free access drops to just 61 countries for US citizens.
With pandemic restrictions, the UK passport holders has suffered a drastic 70 per cent drop in travel freedom to just 57 visa free countries. The once top-raking travel document now has power equivalence to Uzbekistan on the index.
Australia also dropped to 9th place, its lowest recorded ranking, but still has access to 84 countries when adjusted for Pandemic restrictions. This is nine more than Japan's Covid adjusted ranking.
As the previous top ranking travel documents continue to slip, New Zealand's passport appears to be pandemic proof.
New Zealand has held onto its seventh place ranking with visa free access to 187 countries. The passport increased its value during the 2020 rankings and beginning of the pandemic.
The establishment of safe travel corridors across the Tasman and with The Cook Islands have put both the New Zealand and Australian passports in the top tier of "investment" passports, according to Henley & Partners.
"Australia and New Zealand has been ranked amongst the top three investment migration host countries in terms of health management and risk readiness," said Dominic Volek Group Head of Private Clients.
Quarantine efficiency was seen as a big factor in ranking the New Zealand passport as the second most pandemic proof nationality.
Chief executive Juerg Steffen expects both travel disruption and increasing demand for investment passports to continue. Since the outbreak of the Pandemic last year the company has seen an increased interest for dual citizenship by investment or by ancestry "as a means to mitigate volatility and reduce their exposure to risk at a national, a regional, and global level."
Passport Power Rankings
1. Japan 193
2. Singapore 192
3= South Korea; Germany 191
4= Italy; Finland; Spain; Luxembourg 190
5= Denmark; Austria 189
6= Sweden; France; Portugal; Netherlands; Ireland 188
7= Switzerland; United States; United Kingdom; Belgium; New Zealand 187
8= Norway; Greece; Malta; Czech Republic 186
9. Australia 185
10. Hungary 184
Vaccine Passport Rankings
Even with the pandemic travel disruption the trend of increasing travel inequality has continued. The gap in travel freedom is now at its largest since the index started in 2006.
Henley & Partners predicts that programmes such as vaccine passports and new travel documents will only exacerbate this.
As wealthy countries can afford greater access to both vaccines and health passport programmes.
"Not having one will probably result in de facto restrictions of your freedom, whether it comes to travel or to daily routine activities," predicts Robert Maciejewski CEO of the Swiss SIP, in the Henley & Partners Report.
While one of Index's partners IATA (International Air Transport Association) is developing their own standardised vaccine passport, it is one of many being trialled.
Other documents such as the AOK Pass and several national health documents mean that the drive for a globally recognised standardised health passport is a difficult goal.
"It is hard to predict what will happen with competing travel passes and which would be more superior, " said Dominic Volek.