The Cambodian passport remains one of the ‘least powerful’ travel documents in the world, according to a new report.
The latest Henley Passport Index, released by Henley & Partners, showed that Cambodia dropped one spot and is now ranked 89th globally. Early last year, the Kingdom was in the 87th spot, before sliding to 88th, a ranking it was able to maintain for most of 2019 until early 2020.
This is further bad news for Cambodian travellers, who already face significant bureaucratic obstacles at foreign embassies when they want to travel abroad for tourism or business.
For example, a Cambodian traveller destined for the United States (US), Australia or Europe has to produce a plethora of documents (including bank statements, land title, proof of ownership of house/business, etc) for a visa application.
Cambodia shares the same ranking as Vietnam and the African countries of Mali and Niger.
The Kingdom obtained a score of 54, meaning that citizens of the Kingdom can travel to 54 countries and territories visa-free, or obtain visa on entry.
In addition to the nine Asean countries, there are 35 countries and territories in Asia, South America, Central America, Oceania and Africa that welcome Cambodian visitors without requiring them to first obtain a visa.
These, according to various sources, include Dominica, Ecuador, Gambia, Haiti, the Federated States of Micronesia, Panama, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Seychelles, Palau, Cook Islands, Niue, Palestine, Mozambique, Madagascar, Mauritania, Egypt, Nicaragua, Togo, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Bangladesh, Benin, Cape Verde, Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Kenya, Maldives, Nepal, Mauritius, the Marshall Islands, Namibia, Samoa, Saint Lucia and Rwanda.
However, there could be temporary changes on the visa policies of the above countries due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Globally, Japan has the most powerful passport, followed by Singapore, Germany, South Korea, Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain, Austria and Denmark.
In Southeast Asia, Singapore is followed by Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia. Laos and Myanmar are ranked below Cambodia.
Data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and research conducted by Henley & Partners serve as the basis for the rankings.
The one thing that works in Cambodia’s favour is the fact that the coronavirus outbreak has rendered all passports equal for now.
To illustrate this point, for example, a Japanese traveller, who possesses the “strongest” passport in the world with visa free-privileges to 191 countries and territories, and a traveller from Afghanistan, the country with the weakest passport, are now on equal footing with many countries implementing travel bans and not accepting visitors because of the continuing Coronavirus outbreak.
“The last few weeks have made it apparent that travel freedom is contingent on factors that can be utterly beyond our control,” Christian Kaelin, chairman of Henley & Partners, said.