The world’s best and worst passports to own in 2016 – including South Africa

Henley & Partners has launched its Visa Restrictions Index for 2016, showing the best countries to own a passport for freedom of travel.

Germany retained its position as the country with the best passport – with visa-free access to 177 countries out of a total of 218. Sweden remains in second place with a ranking of 176.

A larger group of countries sit in third place, with Finland, France, Italy, Spain and the UK all having visa-free access to 175 countries.

South Africa slipped two places on the list, to 54 from 52 in 2015 where it had access to 95 countries. However, it added two countries over the course of the past year, to 97.

In Africa, Seychelles is ranked 31st with access to 133 countries, followed by Mauritius in 35th place and access to 128 countries. South Africa is third on the continent. Namibia (70th) and Lesotho (69th) round out the top five.

See the 2016 Index here

Henley & Partners noted that there was significant movement across the board with only 21 of the 199 countries listed remaining in the same rank.

No country dropped more than three positions, indicating that, overall, visa-free access is improving around the world.

Four countries in particular made big gains: Tonga rising 16 spots; Palau by 20; Colombia by 25; and Timor-Leste being the highest climber, up 33 places.

The top most powerful passports in the world are:

  1. Germany with access to 177 countries;
  2. Sweden with access to 176 countries;
  3. Finland, France, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom with access to 175 countries;
  4. Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands and the United States with access to 174 countries;
  5.  Austria, Japan, and Singapore with access to 173 countries.

The worst passports in the world are:

  1. Afghanistan, with access to 25 countries;
  2. Pakistan, with access to 29 countries;
  3. Iraq, with access to 30 countries;
  4. Somalia, with access to 31 countries;
  5. Syria, with access to 32 countries.

There are a total of 219 destinations/territories with a maximum score attainable at 218. Points cannot be assigned to a national travelling to their own country, said Henley & Partners.

The index evaluated 199 nationalities/passports, including the 193 member states of the United Nations, Taiwan, Kosovo, Palestinian Territory, Vatican City, Hong Kong (SAR China) and Macau (SAR China).

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The world’s best and worst passports to own in 2016 – including South Africa