These are the best passports to own in 2018 – including South Africa

Residence and citizenship planning company, Henley & Partners, has published its latest Passport Index for 2018, which ranks South Africa 52nd out of the 199 countries featured.

With its citizens enjoying visa-free access to 100 countries in total, South Africa is the third highest African country on the index. However, it is far surpassed by the Seychelles, which, with visa-free access to as many as 141 countries, is the highest-ranking country in Africa – and 27th overall.

Mauritius, is 2nd in Africa (32nd globally), granting its citizens visa-free access to 134 countries. Globally, Germany holds on to 1st place for the fifth year running in the 2018 edition of the index. Compared to their African counterparts, citizens of the European country enjoy visa-free access to 177 countries in total.

The Henley Passport Index is a ranking of all the passports of the world according to the number of countries their holders can travel to visa-free. The ranking is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

In 2008 and 2009, South Africa reached its highest ranking over the last 10 years when it ranked 35th on the index.

Nigel Barnes, managing partner of Henley & Partners South Africa, said that, when it comes to both travel and settlement freedom, South Africa lags behind in its rankings. “In fact, of all the continents, Africa as a whole has suffered the most dramatic decline in travel freedom on the 2018 Henley Passport Index, with African countries accounting for 19 of the 27 biggest fallers over the past decade,” Barnes said.

Sierra Leone, which gained visa-free access to seven countries, and rose eight places to secure 73rd position, is the biggest climber of all African countries on this year’s index.


Global trends

Germany holds on to 1st place on the index for the fifth year running, with its citizens enjoying visa-free access to 177 countries in total, up from 176 countries in 2017.

Singapore ranks 2nd globally on the 2018 edition of the index, with visa-free access to 176 countries, while eight countries – Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Japan, Norway, Sweden, and the UK – share 3rd place, offering passport-holders access to 175 countries.

Ranking jointly 4th on the index, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Spain all provide visa-free access to 174 countries.

  • Germany (177)
  • Singapore (176)
  • Denmark (175)
  • Finland (175)
  • France (175)
  • Italy (175)
  • Japan (175)
  • Norway (175)
  • Sweden (175)
  • United Kingdom (175)

“Global mobility is on the brink of massive change and some of the emerging trends we are seeing as a result include travel bans, visa restrictions, Brexit and growing support for nationalization,” said Barnes.

“Closer to home, credit ratings downgrades, the volatile political and social climate, and concerns about the sustainability of sectors such as education are further evidence of increasing uncertainty and the major shifts shaping our world.”

Of the 199 countries featured on the index, 143 (including the US) improved their rank over the past year and 41 countries (the Russian Federation among them) maintained their position.

In terms of visa-free access, only seven countries saw their level of access reduced over the past year: Azerbaijan, New Zealand, Antigua and Barbuda, Laos, Algeria, North Korea, and Syria all
lost visa-free access to a single country.

By contrast, 18 countries maintained their level of visa-free access year-on- year, and the remainder of countries (174 in total) saw an improvement in their level of access compared to 2017.

Read: Top 5 residency programmes for South Africans including Mauritius

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These are the best passports to own in 2018 – including South Africa