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Have passport, will travel… or maybe not

South Africa began rolling out bio-metric passports in April 2009 and thus travellers in possession of such a passport and a visa to travel to the US would be unaffected.

South Africa began rolling out bio-metric passports in April 2009 and thus travellers in possession of such a passport and a visa to travel to the US would be unaffected.

Published Apr 17, 2015

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London - Owning a passport opens up a world of possibility and freedom for travellers - or so you would think.

In some countries, even if you are lucky enough to have access to the government-issued documents, you are still restricted and barred from several countries.

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Henley and Partners, a global group involved with residency and citizenship issues, created a Visa Restrictions Index, which ranks countries globally in accordance with the travel freedom their inhabitants enjoy - with some surprising results.

Where it might be expected that countries such as North Korea and possibly Cuba could take the bottom spots for the most restricted travel freedom, they actually place at 86 and 69 respectively, from a ranking of a total of 94.

Each country was given a score which was calculated based on visa regulations of all countries and territories in the world, and the number of other countries that their citizens could travel to without having to obtain a visa.

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Taking the lowest spots were Afghanistan (ranked at 94 and able to visit 28 countries visa-free), Iraq, (able to visit 31 countries), Pakistan and Somalia (able to visit 32 countries) and the Palestinian Territory (able to visit 35).

This was juxtaposed with Finland, Germany, Sweden, the UK and the US, in first position, who are able to access 174 countries visa-free. South Africa came in with 97 points.

Henley and Partners said: “In today’s globalised world, visa restrictions play an important role in controlling the movement of foreign nationals across borders.

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“Almost all countries now require visas from certain non-nationals who wish to enter their territory.

“Visa requirements are also an expression of the relationships between individual nations, and generally reflect the relations and status of a country within the international community of nations.“

Pakistan is ranked at 92 on the index, and citizens are able to visit 32 countries including Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti, and Dominica without a visa.

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Despite this freedom, stepping over the Pakistani border into India and Iran does require a visa.

At the bottom of the list are the citizens of Afghanistan who are banned from entering Kuwait entirely.

They can, however, travel to Micronesia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Haiti without a visa entirely.

The index reflected the decision last year to allow citizens of the UAE to be allowed short stays in the EU Schengen countries without a visa, moving them up the rankings in the travel freedom index.

A UN World Tourism Organisation report said three-quarters of people in the world travelling to Europe needed a visa.

Daily Mail

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