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

 ·13 Oct 2015

Henley & Partners has launched its Visa Restrictions Index for 2015, showing which countries have the best passports when it comes to freedom of travel.

Although the world is becoming ever more globalized, there remains a huge disparity in levels of travel freedom between countries.

Visa requirements define and shape individuals’ ability to travel across borders.

The report shows that two countries have held their position in the top spot with visa-free access to 173 countries out of a possible 218 – Germany and the UK.

Finland, Sweden and the US all dropped to 2nd place.

The four worst passports in the world remain Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and Pakistan.

Countries are ranked according to the total number of other countries which they can access visa-free access.

The top most powerful passports in the world are:

  1. Germany and United Kingdom, with access to 173 countries
  2. Finland, Sweden and USA, with access to 172 countries
  3. Denmark, France, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and Norway, with access to 171 countries.
  4. Belgium, Canada, New Zealand, Portugal, and Spain, with access to 170 countries.
  5.  Austria, Ireland, Singapore, and Switzerland, with access to 169 countries.

The worst passports in the world are:

  1. Afghanistan, with access to 25 countries
  2. Iraq, with access to 29 countries
  3. Somalia, with access to 30 countries
  4. Pakistan, with access to 31 countries
  5.  Syria, with access to 33 countries


The top ranking country in Africa is Seychelles -an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean off East Africa, with a population of 90,000 people. Seychelles citizens have access to 129 countries.

Mauritius is second on the list, with 124, and South Africa is third, with access to 95 countries. Botswana, Kenya and Namibia follow suit.

According to Henley & Partners, the UAE is the highest mover, up 15 places and adding 37 to its score in 2015. The dramatic climb can be attributed to a new agreement with the EU for visa-free travel to 36 countries including the 26 Schengen area states, which was made public in May this year.

22 countries moved up in the rankings in 2015 including: Australia, Brazil, Czech Republic, Iceland, Zealand, Norway, Samoa, San Marino, Slovakia, and Slovenia, among others.

Sierra Leona saw the biggest drop, losing 24 places, while Guinea and Liberia had the next biggest fall, down 21 places, while war torn Syria lost 16 places.

More on passports

The most powerful passports in the world

Why more South Africans are leaving the country

More South Africans want to leave the country

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