Passport privilege is a very real thing that affects millions of travelers every year. One of the main factors that affects the overall power of a country’s passport is how many countries one can travel to visa-free. Since the start of Trump’s presidency, the U.S passport power has been slowly weakening due to international friction over certain political policies under the new administration, and now due to the coronavirus pandemic.
New rankings released this week shows how bad the situation has become, with the U.S. passport now dropping to 25th place in the overall world index.
Historically, the U.S. passport has been seen as the golden ticket to travel with ease across the international community as it was once regarded as one of the strongest passports in the world.
“Citizenship is the main factor behind preserving global inequalities today,” said Dimitry Kochenov, a co-creator of The Quality of Nationality Index and professor of European constitutional law at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands to The New York Times. “So of course the U.S. passport has always symbolized the ultimate level of this privilege.”
According to the latest Henley Passport Index, U.S. passports now have access to only 158 countries, putting it on par with a Mexican passport, a significant decline from its previous top 10 ranking in 2014. The decrease in standing was partly because of the E.U.’s decision to temporarily ban American travelers due to the COVID-19 pandemic with the U.S. still seeing a surge in new cases in different states.
“We see an emergence of a new global hierarchy in terms of mobility, with countries that have effectively managed the pandemic taking the lead, and countries that have handled it poorly falling behind,” says Christian Kaelin, chairman of Henley & Partners, according to Forbes.
“The U.S.’s dramatic decline in passport power means that Americans find themselves with a similar level of travel freedom usually available to citizens of Mexico.”