The visa-free countries you can travel to on a South African passport

 ·2 Oct 2019

Henley & Partners has released its latest passport index, outlining the countries that South African can travel to visa-free right now.

The index shows that South Africa has moved up one place to 53rd position, with passport holders now able to access 100 destinations without obtaining a prior visa.

The index, which is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), reflects a similar slight upward shift for many other Sub-Saharan African states, as countries on the continent move to liberalize their visa regimes in accordance with the goals of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

“The latest countries to relax their visa regimes are Namibia and Sierra Leone, both of which now offer visa-on-arrival access to a number of African states,” said Amanda Smit, managing partner at Henley & Partners.

“Regionally, Seychelles, Mauritius and South Africa remain the top 3, with a global ranking of 26, 30, and 53 respectively,” she said.

More broadly, as the global economy transforms and centres of power shift, Asia’s dominance appears to be unfaltering. Japan and Singapore retain a firm hold on first place on the Henley Passport Index, each with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 190 out of a maximum 227, said Smit.

“With visa-free/visa-on-arrival scores of 188, Finland, Germany, and South Korea remain in 2nd place, while Denmark, Italy, and Luxembourg are in Third place, with citizens of those countries now able to access 187 destinations worldwide without requiring a visa in advance.”

While the positions on the index’s top 10 have remained relatively stable since the last update in July, there have been some striking shifts further down the ranking, said Smit.

“Most dramatically, the UAE has climbed an extraordinary five places over the last three months after gaining visa-free access to a number of African countries, including South Africa, and now sits in 15th place, with UAE passport holders able to access 172 destinations without a prior visa.

“Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan remain at the bottom of the ranking, with visa-free/visa-on-arrival scores of just 29, 27, and 25, respectively.”

Below are the 100 countries South Africans can travel to visa-free right now.

* Indicates visa on arrival or eTA.


Angola Madagascar* Somalia*
Benin Malawi St. Helena*
Botswana Mauritania* Swaziland (eSwatini)
Cape Verde Islands* Mauritius Tanzania
Comores Islands* Mozambique Togo*
Ethiopia* Namibia Tunisia
Gabon Reunion Uganda*
Ghana* Rwanda* Zambia
Guinea-Bissau* Senegal Zimbabwe
Kenya Seychelles*
Lesotho Sierra Leone*


Cambodia* Malaysia Sri Lanka*
Hong Kong (SAR China) Maldives* Tajikistan*
Indonesia Nepal* Thailand
Kyrgyzstan* Philippines Timor-Leste*
Laos* Singapore
Macao (SAR China) South Korea


Ireland Kosovo Russian Federation


Cook Islands Micronesia Samoa*
Fiji Niue Tuvalu*
Marshall Islands* Palau Islands* Vanuatu


Antigua and Barbuda Dominican Republic St. Lucia
Bahamas Grenada St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Barbados Haiti Trinidad and Tobago
British Virgin Islands Jamaica Turks and Caicos
Cayman Islands Montserrat
Dominica St. Kitts and Nevis


Argentina Ecuador Nicaragua
Belize El Salvador Panama
Bolivia* Falkland Islands Paraguay
Brazil Guatemala Peru
Chile Guyana Uruguay
Costa Rica Honduras Venezuela

Middle East/Other 

Armenia* Israel Qatar
Georgia Jordan*
Iran* Palestinian Territory

Read: #ImStaying is spreading – here are some of the reasons why people say they want to stay in South Africa

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