SA passport rated 53rd most 'mobile' in the world

The South African passport remains stable in 53rd position on the latest Henley Passport Index.

Data from the International Air Transport Association (Iata) is used to compile the index.

South Africa, ranked 53rd globally on the index, continues to occupy the third place in the sub-Saharan Africa region, following the Seychelles (27th globally) and Mauritius (31st globally).

Japan took the top spot on the 2019 index, with citizens enjoying visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 190 destinations. Singapore and South Korea are in joint 2nd place, with access to 189 destinations around the globe.

Germany and France remain in third place, with a visa-free or visa-on-arrival score of 188.

The data shows that the US and the UK continue to drop on the Henley Passport Index and now sit in joint 6th place, with access to 185 destinations - a significant fall from the first place position these countries held in 2015.

Denmark, Finland, Italy, and Sweden now hold joint 4th place, while Spain and Luxembourg are in 5th.

As they have done for much of the index's 14-year history, Iraq and Afghanistan remain at the bottom of the ranking, with access to just 30 visa-free destinations.
Turkey's recent introduction of an online e-visa service has resulted in some changes to the overall rankings. As of October 2018, citizens of over 100 countries - including Canada, the UK, Norway, and the US - must apply for an e-visa before they travel to Turkey, instead of being able to do so on arrival.

Historical data from the Henley Passport Index shows that 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.

According to Ryan Cummings, director of Signal Risk, Africa continues to lag behind the rest of the world but is moving in the right direction in terms of enhancing visa openness.

He said that over the past year, several African countries – notably Angola, Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia and Senegal – relaxed visa requirements, with the intention of enhancing trade, co-operation, and security.

As in 2018, countries with citizenship-by-investment (CBI) programmes continue to hold strong positions on the index.

Malta, for instance, sits at the 9th spot, with access to 182 destinations around the world. St. Kitts and Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda hold the 27th and 28th spot respectively, while Moldova remains in 46th place, with citizens able to access 122 countries.

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