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New Zealand loses ground in ‘passport power’ rankings

New Zealand’s position among the global rankings of so-called ‘passport power’, which reveals where Kiwis can gain visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to other countries, has dropped significantly.


Previously in fifth place, New Zealand are now joint seventh alongside the Czech Republic and Malta, according to the Henley Passport Index. The index is effectively based on data from the International Air Transport Association.

This is the first year, in more than a decade, that either Japan or Singapore passports have been deemed the most powerful.

“Japan loosened restrictions on permanent residence requirements in 2017, hoping to increase the number of skilled migrants who qualify for residence from just over 8000 currently to 20,000 by 2022,” said assistant professor of geography at Durham University Kate Coddington, who focusses on migration and governance in the Asia-Pacific.

“Taiwan similarly relaxed rules for foreign skilled workers and their family members in 2018, easing requirements for work permits and permanent residence applications.”

“At the same time, travellers from North Asian countries were able to access more visa-free travel opportunities in countries such as Uzbekistan, Macedonia, and the UAE.

“Globally, we should continue to see efforts by smaller nations to marketing citizenship opportunities in the wake of ongoing restrictions on international migration championed by the US, the UK, and other traditional migrant destinations in the global north.”

Top 10 passports:

1. Japan, Singapore

2. Germany

3. Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, South Korea, Spain, Sweden

4. Austria, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, United Kingdom, United States

5. Belgium, Canada, Ireland, Switzerland

6. Australia, Greece

7. Czech Republic, Malta, New Zealand

8. Iceland

9. Hungary, Malaysia, Slovenia

10. Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia