Six weeks after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the impact on travel freedom and mobility has been more dramatic than even the most pessimistic commentators were predicting at the war’s outset. The latest results from the Henley Passport Index — the original ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa — clearly illustrate the war’s profound and perhaps irreversible impact on freedom of movement within the region as a new Iron Curtain descends.
The invasion has triggered the worst refugee crisis in Europe since World War II, with more than 4 million Ukrainians having fled to neighboring countries. In response to Russia’s actions, the EU, the US, Canada, and other Western countries have closed their airspaces to Russian air carriers, imposed stiff travel bans on individual Russian citizens, and in many cases have stopped processing visa applications altogether, effectively condemning the Russian passport to junk status throughout much of the developed world.
In stark contrast, the EU has approved an emergency plan allowing Ukrainians to live and work in any of its 27 member states for up to three years while many other Western countries have adjusted their visa policies in favor of Ukrainian passport holders or waived visa requirements altogether.
According to the latest Henley Passport Index, which is based on exclusive and official data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Ukraine currently has a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 143, a record high for the country, which now ranks 34th on the index (having climbed 26 places since 2012), while Russia trails behind in 49th place, with a score of 117 — a gap that is likely to increase even further in the coming months as a result of the conflict. Russian passport dropped four places to 49th in the rankings.
In first place in the ranking – Japan and Singapore (192 countries). Second place after Germany and South Korea – 190 countries. Finland, Italy, Luxembourg and Spain (189 countries) close the top three.
Afghanistan remains at the bottom of the index with its nationals only able to access 26 destinations visa-free.