Henley & Partners has published its passport index for 2022, outlining the countries that South Africans can travel to visa-free right now – and how the pandemic has impacted international travel.
Without taking evolving and temporary Covid-related restrictions into account, the report shows that Japan and Singapore have the strongest passports in the world and allow access to 192 destinations around the world visa-free – 166 more than Afghanistan, which sits at the bottom of the index.
Germany and South Korea hold onto joint second spot on the latest ranking, with passport holders able to access 190 destinations visa-free, while Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, and Spain share third place, with a score of 189.
The US and the UK passports have regained some of their previous strength after falling all the way to eighth place in 2020 – the lowest spot held by either country in the index’s 17-year history. Both countries now sit in sixth place, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 186.
“Passports and visas are among the most important instruments impacting on social inequality worldwide as they determine opportunities for global mobility,” said Dr. Christian Kaelin, chairman of Henley & Partners.
“The borders within which we happen to be born, and the documents we are entitled to hold, are no less arbitrary than our skin colour. Wealthier states need to encourage positive inward migration in an effort to help redistribute and rebalance human and material resources worldwide, including improving the size and quality of their own workforces.”
The index shows that South Africa has gained three places in the rankings, moving up to 51st position. At the start of 2022, South African passport holders are able to access 104 destinations without obtaining a prior visa.
However, as with other countries, it faces ongoing travel restrictions due to the pandemic. A number of countries moved to place restrictions on South Africa following the discovery of the Omicron variant at the end of November.
While some of these restrictions have subsequently been lifted, South African travellers remain prejudiced by the variant’s discovery.
A mapping tool developed by travel website Skyscanner shows that as of 11 January, South Africa has 93 ‘major restrictions’ in place from other countries. This is up from around 60 significant restrictions in mid-2021. These countries have suspended travel, may be closed to entry, or entry may only be possible if you are a citizen/meet strict entrance requirements.
Skyscanner data shows there are currently 24 moderate restrictions for South Africa, where travel is possible, but only if travellers meet specific entry requirements, including taking Covid-19 tests and quarantining.
Below are the 104 countries South Africans can travel to visa-free according to the latest Henley & Partners report.
* Indicates visa on arrival or eTA.
|Cape Verde Islands*||Mauritius||Swaziland (eSwatini)|
|Hong Kong (SAR China)||Maldives*||Sri Lanka*|
|Macao (SAR China)||Singapore|
|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|
|Dominica||St. Kitts and Nevis|