Saturday, August 20, 2016

Which country has the best ‘visa-free travel’ passport? It's not UK or USA

The EU referendum could change in how easily British citizens can travel within the rest of Europe without the need for a visa, however, Europeans were freely travelling around France, Spain and Germany for decades.

There has been a surge in Britons applying for Irish passports following the Brexit result in a bid to retain a link with the European Union. But according to a study, Germany has the world’s most powerful passport, with Sweden close behind.

German citizens hold the world’s most flexible and powerful visa-free passport as they can visit 177 countries without applying for a tourist visa, and US tourists can travel to 174. British travellers can currently enter 175, which could change in the next couple of years. 

With a possible score of 218, the visa restriction index by Henley & Partners, a citizenship and planning firm, ranks nations or territories based on the number of countries their citizens can travel to visa-free. The annual report is based on visa restrictions in place on 1 January.

Germany claimed sole possession of first spot this year after three more countries scrapped visa restrictions for Germans, edging Sweden into second place with visa-free access to 176 countries.

After three years in first place, the UK fell to third and was tied with Finland, France, Italy and Spain with a score of 175, up one from 174 last year, while the US shared fourth spot with Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands.

Afghanistan found itself at the bottom of the table with visa-free access to just 25 countries.
Pakistan was in second-last place (29), just behind Iraq (30), Somalia (31) and Syria (32).

In a statement released earlier this year, Henley & Partners, which has offices around the world, including London and Melbourne, said only 21 of the 199 countries listed in this year’s study remained in the same rank as last year.

It said: ‘No country, however, dropped more than three positions, indicating that overall, visa-free access is improving around the world.

‘Somalia, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan meanwhile, continue to hold the bottom four positions on the index, and thus have again been labelled the worst passports in the world.’

Timor-Leste, in Southeast Asia, had the biggest leap, climbing 33 spots to 57th place, followed by Colombia and Paula, which jumped 25 and 20 spots, respectively. Hungary is back in the top 10, while Malaysia was squeezed out.

Henley & Partners, which has produced an annual index in co-operation with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) since 2006, said: ‘There continues to be a huge disparity in the levels of travel freedom between countries, despite the world becoming more mobile and interdependent.

‘Generally, visa requirements reflect strongly on each country’s relationships with others, and will take into account diplomatic relationships between the countries, reciprocal visa arrangements, security risks and the risks of visa and immigration rules violations.’ 

The table illustrates the degree of restrictions citizens of poorer nations have when travelling, something we in the West take for granted. Due to the risk of overtsaying, applying for a visa to visit the UK or U.S. can be a monumental task for citizens of third world countries.

There have recently been a number of hoax articles claiming that the UK has given visa-free status to the Philippines and various African countries.

Full list of results countries:

1. Germany - 177
2. Sweden - 176
3. Finland, France, Italy, Spain, UK - 175
4. Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, US - 174
5. Austria, Japan, Singapore - 173 
6. Canada, Ireland, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, South Korea, Switzerland - 172
7. Greece, New Zealand - 171 
8. Australia - 169
9. Malta - 168
10. Czech Republic, Hungary, Iceland - 167
11. Slovakia - 165
12. Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Slovenia - 164
13. Latvia - 163
14. Estonia, Lithuania - 162
15. Poland - 161
16. Monaco - 160
17. Cyprus - 159
18. San Marino - 156
19. Chile - 155
20. Hong Kong - 154
21. Brazil, Bulgaria, Romania - 153
22. Andorra, Argentina - 152
23. Brunei Darussalam - 151
24. Croatia - 149
25. Israel - 147
26. Barbados - 141
27. Bahamas - 140
28. Mexico - 139
29. Taiwan, Uruguay - 137
30. Antigua and Barbuda, Vatican City - 134
31. Seychelles - 133
32. St. Kitts and Nevis, Venezuela - 132
33. Costa Rica - 131
34. Trinidad and Tobago - 130
35. Mauritius - 128
36. Panama - 127
37. Paraguay, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines - 125
38. United Arab Emirates - 122
39. Grenada - 121
40. Macau - 120
41. Dominica, Honduras - 119
42. Guatemala - 116
43. El Salvador, Serbia - 115
44. Samoa - 112
45. Macedonia - 111
46. Nicaragua, Tonga, Vanuatu - 110
47. Montenegro - 107
48. Russia - 105
49. Palau - 104
50. Colombia - 10
51. Turkey - 102
52. Bosnia Herzegovina, Moldova - 101
53. Albania - 98
54. South Africa - 97  
55. Belize - 94
56. Peru, Solomon Islands - 86
57. Guyana, Kuwait, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu - 82
58. Ecuador, Fiji, Ukraine - 81
59. Maldives, Nauru - 80
60. Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Qatar - 79
61. Jamaica - 78
62. Papua New Guinea - 77
63. Micronesia - 75
64. Suriname - 74
65. Bahrain - 73
66. Bolivia, Botswana - 72
67. Oman, Thailand - 71
68. Namibia - 70
69. Lesotho, Saudi Arabia - 69
70. Kenya - 68
71. Belarus, Gambia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Malawi, Swaziland - 67
72. Tanzania, Tunisia - 65
73. Ghana - 64
74. Zambia - 63
75. Azerbaijan - 62
76. Cape Verde, Philippines - 61
77. Uganda - 60
78. Benin, Cuba, Morocco, Zimbabwe - 59
79. Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan - 58
80. Armenia - 57
81. Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Mongolia - 56
82. Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Togo - 55
83. Dominican Republic, Sao Tome, Principe - 54
84. Tajikistan - 53
85. India, Mali, Uzbekistan - 52
86. Bhutan, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Sierra Leone - 51
87. Cambodia, China - 50
88. Chad, Egypt, Gabon, Turkmenistan - 49
89. Algeria, Central African Republic, Haiti, Madagascar, Rwanda - 48
90. Comoros, Jordan, Laos, Vietnam - 47 
91. Guinea - 46
92. Angola, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria - 45
93. Congo (Republic of), Djibouti - 44
94. Liberia - 43
95. Burundi, North Korea, Myanmar - 42
96. Bangladesh, Congo (Democratic Republic of), Lebanon, Sri Lanka - 39
97. Kosovo, South Sudan, Yemen - 38
98. Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Nepal, Palestinian Territory, Sudan - 37
99. Libya - 36
100. Syria - 32
101. Somalia - 31
102. Iraq - 30
103. Pakistan - 29
104. Afghanistan - 25 

Source: Henley & Partners.

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