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Power of SA passport continues to drop in global ranking

09 January 2019

The Irish passport lets its citizens into the seventh most countries in the world, according to the latest index.

The index ranks all the world's passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa. Belgians, Canadians and Greeks can also go to 184 countries without a visa.

Germany and France remain in third place, while the United Kingdom and the United States also stayed put, ranking sixth on the list with visa free access to 185 countries.

The Japanese passport remains the most powerful in the world, retaining the top spot in the Henley Passport Index's first update for 2019.

In 2018, Ireland was ranked joint fifth.

Just behind them are Denmark, Finland, Italy, and Sweden on 187, followed by Luxembourg and Spanish passports which can be used to travel to 186 countries. It marks a significant fall from 2015 when American and British passports were ranked the strongest.

In further demonstrations of Asian passport power, China moved five places up the rankings from the beginning of 2018, from 74th to 69th, while Cambodia (84th), Laos (86th), and Myanmar (90th) have each moved up four places.

Malta sits in 9 spot, with access to 182 destinations and St. Kitts and Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda hold 27 and 28 spot respectively, while Moldova remains in a strong position at 46 place, with citizens able to access 122 countries.

Nigeria was 94 in 2018 but has risen by three spots as its passport can take its holder into 47 countries without a visa.

Elsewhere in the region, China jumped nearly 20 places in just two years, from 85th in 2017 to 69th this year.

Henley & Partners' Group Chairman Christian Kalin, who created the Passport Index, says the ranking is a bright spot in an increasingly isolationist world.

The ranking has been produced by the Henley Passport Index, which is based on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA). "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 almost doubled to 107'.

Similarly, the United Arab Emirates continues its upward trajectory, now holding top spot in the Middle East region and 22nd place globally.

Power of SA passport continues to drop in global ranking