Residence and citizenship planning company, Henley & Partners, has published its latest Passport Index for 2019, which ranks South Africa 53rd – down from 52nd out of the 199 countries featured.
With its citizens enjoying visa-free access to 101 countries in total, South Africa is the third highest African country on the index.
The number of counties is down from 102 in 2018, with South Africans now requiring a visa to enter Turkey – although this can be done through a simple online process designed to issue your visa within 48 hours.
Previously, South African passport holders could be issued with a visa stamped on arrival.
South Africa has also steadily dropped down the rankings since 2006, with a best ranking of 35th in 2009.
Japan goes into the new year holding first place on the Henley Passport Index, with citizens enjoying visa-free/visa-on-arrival access to 190 destinations. In a further display of Asian passport power, Singapore and South Korea now sit in joint second place, with access to 189 destinations around the globe.
Germany and France remain in third place going into 2019, with a visa-free score of 188.
The US and the UK continue to drop down the Henley Passport Index — which is based on authoritative data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) — and now sit in joint sixth place, with access to 185 destinations.
This is a significant fall from the first position that these countries held in 2015, and while a big question mark remains over the ultimate impact of Brexit, it is unlikely that either country will reclaim the top spot anytime soon.
Dr. Christian H. Kälin, Group Chairman of Henley & Partners, said that despite rising isolationist sentiment in some parts of the world, most countries remain committed to collaboration and mutually beneficial agreements.
“Historical data from the Henley Passport Index over the past 14 years shows an overwhelming global tendency towards visa-openness. In 2006, a citizen, on average, could travel to 58 destinations without needing a visa from the host nation; by the end of 2018, this number had nearly doubled to 107.”
China’s steady ascent up the rankings is a clear demonstration of this. In 2017, the country was ranked 85th, with citizens able to access just 51 destinations. Going into 2019, China now sits in 69th place, with access to 74 countries around the world.
Similarly, the United Arab Emirates continues its upward trajectory, now holding top spot in the Middle East region and 22nd place globally.
As in 2018, countries with citizenship-by-investment (CBI) programs continue to hold their strong positions on the index. Malta sits in ninth spot, with access to 182 destinations and St. Kitts and Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda hold 27th and 28th spot respectively, while Moldova remains in a strong position at 46th place, with citizens able to access 122 countries.
Below are the countries South Africans can travel to visa-free right now.
|Visa-free entry (68)|
|Antigua and Barbuda||Fiji||Malaysia||Singapore|
|Bahamas||Georgia||Micronesia||St Kitts and Nevis|
|Belize||Guyana||Montserrat||St Vincent and Grenadines|
|British Virgin Islands||Honduras||Nicaragua||Tanzania|
|Cayman Islands||Indonesia||Palestine||Trinidad and Tobago|
|Cook Islands||Israel||Paraguay||Turks and Caicos Islands|
|Visa on entry (33)|
|Gabon||Marshall Islands||Sri Lanka|