South Africa, ranked 51 st globally, continues to occupy 3rd place in the Sub-Saharan Africa region. File pic.

The South African passport moves up by two spots on the latest Henley Passport Index. South Africa, ranked 51 st globally, continues to occupy 3rd place in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, below Seychelles and Mauritius. 

Somalia, Libya, and Eritrea sit at the bottom of the index in Africa, each only able to access 35 or fewer destinations visa-free.

The African continent accounts for 19 of the 27 countries whose scores have decreased over the past decade. However, although there is limited visa-free access outside of the continent, African states are increasingly strengthening their relationships with one another and deregulating internal visa regulations.

In a resounding demonstration of Asia’s growing power and influence on the world stage, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea now hold joint top spot on the Henley Passport Index.

Afghanistan and Iraq remain at the bottom of the ranking with a score of just 30.

While Schengen Area countries have traditionally topped the index as a result of their open access to Europe, developed Asian nations have been able to secure equally high scores in recent years thanks to their strong international trade and diplomatic relations.

The UAE continues its upward trajectory and is now just one spot away from entry into the index’s top 20. After the recent formalization of a mutual visa-waiver agreement signed with Russia, UAE passport holders are now able to access 165 destinations around the world without a prior visa. 

The top 10 rankings for passports are:

  1. Japan, Singapore, South Korea 
  2. Germany
  3. France, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Italy
  4. Luxembourg, Spain, Austria
  5. Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland, United Kingdom
  6. The United States, Belgium, Canada, Greece, Ireland
  7. The Czech Republic
  8. Malta
  9. Australia, Iceland, New Zealand
  10. Hungary, Lituania, Slovakia, Sloven1a