Aussie passports hold up in face of COVID-19 restrictions

8 July 2020

Holding an Australian passport is likely to be welcomed at airports worldwide although the US passport will under scrutiny as a result of travel restrictions imposed by COVID-19.

Last week, the European Union announced Australian citizens would be welcomed to visit, along with Canada, Japan and South Korea, but visitors from the US and Singapore would not. This was a stinging rebuke for citizens of those countries whose passports had long given their significant travel freedom.

According to investment migration firm Henley and Partners, the US passport had previously allowed visa-free travel to 185 countries while Singapore passport holders could enter 190 countries.

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Japan held the top spot for visa-free travel with access to 191 countries while Australians could access 183.

The result was expected to see increased demand for dual-citizenship applications as people sought to find a way around the rules as well as people choosing to move countries with looser travel restrictions.

Christian Kaelin, chair of Henley and Partners, said: “The pandemic’s impact on travel freedom has been more drastic and long lasting than initially anticipated. This latest decision by the EU indicates that there is more upheaval to come.

“Look at the US passport, for example — in 2014, it held the number one spot in the world on our index, but US nationals currently have far less travel freedom than most citizens of other wealthy, industrialised nations and even of some less developed nations, being effectively locked out of Europe. 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.”

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