Henley & Partners has published its latest passport index for 2022, outlining the countries that South Africans can travel to visa-free right now.
The index shows that a new ‘iron curtain’ has descended six weeks after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with the invasion also triggering the worst refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.
“In response to Russia’s actions, the EU, the US, Canada, and other Western countries have closed their airspaces to Russian air carriers, imposed stiff travel bans on individual Russian citizens, and in many cases have stopped processing visa applications altogether, effectively condemning the Russian passport to junk status throughout much of the developed world.
“In stark contrast, the EU has approved an emergency plan allowing Ukrainians to live and work in any of its 27 member states for up to three years while many other Western countries have adjusted their visa policies in favour of Ukrainian passport holders or waived visa requirements altogether.”
According to the latest Henley Passport Index, which is based on exclusive and official data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Ukraine currently has a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 143, a record high for the country, which now ranks 34th on the index.
Meanwhile, Russia trails behind in 49th place, with a score of 117 — a gap that is likely to increase even further in the coming months as a result of the conflict.
The providence of passports
Elsewhere on the ranking, Japan and Singapore continue to share the number one spot, with their passport holders able to access 192 destinations around the world visa-free, not taking temporary Covid restrictions into account.
Germany and South Korea hold a joint-second place, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 190, while Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, and Spain share third place, with their passport holders able to access 189 destinations around the world without having to acquire a visa in advance.
The UK, which recently dropped all remaining Covid-related restrictions, now sits in fifth place, with a score of 187, with the US just one place behind in the 6th spot, with a score of 186. Afghanistan remains at the bottom of the index with its nationals only able to access 26 destinations visa-free.
South Africa and travel restrictions
The index shows that South Africa has retained its ranking in 53rd position. As of April 2022, South African passport holders are able to access 104 destinations without obtaining a prior visa.
However, it still faces ongoing travel restrictions due to the pandemic – despite a notable decline in Covid-19 infections and the removal of almost all local restrictions.
A mapping tool developed by travel website Skyscanner shows that as of 5 April, South Africa has 62 ‘major restrictions’ from other countries in place. 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.
By comparison, there are currently 15 moderate restrictions in place on South Africa, where travel is possible, but only if travellers meet certain entry requirements which can include taking Covid-19 tests.
79 countries have ‘low restrictions’ in place, meaning you can visit these countries but will likely need proof of a negative Covid-19 test or vaccination to travel. This is the fewest level of restrictions on South Africa since the pandemic first started in 2020.
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*
|Hong Kong (SAR China)
|Macao (SAR China)
|Antigua and Barbuda
|St. Vincent and the Grenadines
|Trinidad and Tobago
|British Virgin Islands
|Turks and Caicos
|St. Kitts and Nevis