By: Laura H. (’22)
Due to COVID-19 coronavirus restrictions on traveling worldwide, there has been a decrease in countries that previously had high passport strength. This “strength” is the measure of the freedom in which a country’s passport may allow the holder to enter without prior visa approval. This increase of restrictive travel freedom can lead to a shift in the popularity in obtaining dual citizenships, benefitting a wide majority of the students at Taipei American School.
Passport strength can also be known as “passport privilege.” Passports are also seen as a document that communicates political, social and racial identity of an individual. In other words, the political and social climate may present a reflection for the privilege one may gain or lose while travelling. For example, the United States, Belgium, Greece, Norway, and the United Kingdom have previously experienced a strong passport strength, which allowed them to travel to 184 countries without a visa prior to the COVID-19 coronavirus. The American passport in particular, was ranked to have the highest passport strength in 2015, but after the COVID-19 coronavirus, American passports have dropped to the rank of 21 this past year.
According to the Henley Passport Index, a worldwide ranking of the number of destinations different passports can access without obtaining a visa, many countries whose passports have once ranked to obtain the most strength are now lowering in the ranks in the post pandemic period.
Before the COVID-19 coronavirus, passport strength only impacted economics. However, the scope of effect has spread to issues related to health and safety. In fact, on June 30, the European Union (EU) released the names of some countries that would be allowed to cross EU borders according to health and safety measures. It is interesting to note that the list of non-EU countries did not include the United States, Brazil or Russia, which were countries that had once held the top rankings on the passport strength index.
Passport strength will likely affect future concerns regarding travel freedom as well. The measure of a country’s management in health and safety measures will determine a new hierarchy in the realm of passport strengths. Therefore, the dramatic fluctuation in passport strengths due to the unpredictability of the COVID-19 coronavirus, has led to an increase in demand for a second citizenship or an alternative residence.
In these uncertain times, the most valuable asset one can attain would be a dual citizenship. Dual citizens may enjoy benefits such as the ability to be able to travel back and forth between multiple countries all over the world. Another great advantage dual citizens have is the ability to invest in real estate properties in both countries. Many of those who decide to live in one of the two countries they are registered in will also be able to work in the same country with ease.
Since many TAS students already have more than one passport, these students would not have trouble maintaining passport strength when a radical shift in the political climate occurs. In addition, having dual citizenship also allows less concerns with access to first-rate healthcares, as well as mobility across borders.