Australian passports are now more powerful than US ones as the coronavirus reshuffles the visa world order

Australian passports could be in hot demand after the coronavirus pandemic. (James D. Morgan, Getty Images)
  • The coronavirus pandemic has rearranged how the world’s passports are rated as different countries cope with the virus at home.
  • Passports from Australia, ranked 9th, are now more powerful than those from the United States which have plunged to be on par with Mexico and Uruguay.
  • The different trajectory of the two countries could encourage further investment in Australia as its attrativness with Chinese nationals grows.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

When Australians finally are allowed to leave their shores, they may find themselves amongst shrinking elite company.

Having found early success containing the coronavirus at home — a growing Victorian outbreak notwithstanding — passports from Australia are ranked 9th in the world while others struggle to maintain their travel power.

“This is one of many extraordinary shifts in passport power caused by the temporary pandemic-related bans,” Juerg Steffen, CEO of Henley and Partners, which produces the passport index, said.

“As parts of the globe cautiously begin to open up, the focus is on what travel freedom and global mobility will look like in a post–COVID-19 world.”

It’s no surprise then that the top of the list is dominated by powerhouse nations that took proactive measures. Japan took out the gold, Singapore the silver, and Germany and South Korea tied for bronze.

There’s no coincidence either that the three Asian countries joined Australia recently as exemptions to the European Union (EU) travel ban, allowing their citizens to move freely through it.

More telling, however, are those nations that have been plunged down the rankings. None have had a more spectacular fall from grace than the coronavirus-ravaged United States which typically is at home in the top seven, but whose citizens now face bans from all corners of the world.

“Under the current EU ban, the picture looks starkly different. US nationals now have roughly the same level of travel freedom as citizens of Uruguay and Mexico ranked 28th and 25th respectively,” Steffen said.

Dropping 13 places on the index, it puts Australian passports ahead of the world’s largest economy. While travel looks to be off the table for the remainder of the year, it could still prove a coup for the Australian economy, according to international property portal Juwai IQI.

“Green cards and passports from the United States aren’t looking so good in the coronavirus era,” executive chairman Georg Chmiel told Business Insider Australia.

“The differing trajectories in the two countries is one reason Chinese buying enquiries on Australian property climbed by 40.1% in the second quarter.”

While acknowledging the US still had plenty of pulling power for Chinese investors, Chmiel said the pandemic could see some of that could be transferred to Australia.

With 91% of the country’s business and investment visas currently going to Chinese and Hong Kong nationals, there could be even more appetite if Australia can contain its second spike in infections.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.