Germans Get Visa-Free Welcome In 177 Countries
Germany holds on to first place on the Henley Passport Index for the fifth year running, with its citizens enjoying visa-free access to 177 countries in total, up from 176 countries in 2017. Singapore ranks 2nd globally on the 2018 edition of the index, with visa-free access to 176 countries, while eight countries — Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Japan, Norway, Sweden and the UK — share 3rd place, offering passport-holders access to 175 countries.
Ranking jointly 4th on the index, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Spain all provide visa-free access to 174 countries. For citizens carrying Thai passports, just 73 countries allow visa-free travel placing the Kingdom in a lowly 64th place.
The Henley Passport Index is widely acknowledged as the original and most authoritative passport index, with historical data spanning 13 years. The global ranking is the only one of its kind that is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which maintains the world’s largest and most accurate database of travel information. The index is enhanced by extensive in-house research.
The US is among the countries holding 5th place on the 2018 edition of the index, improving its visa-free score from 172 in 2017 to 173 in 2018. The Russian Federation, meanwhile, climbed three places to 48th position. China has shown the most growth in North Asia over the past year, moving up 10 places compared to 2017 and now ranking 75th globally.
For the second year in a row, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan sit at the bottom of the Henley Passport Index, each able to access 30 or fewer countries visa-free.
Dr. Christian H. Kälin, Group Chairman of Henley & Partners, says the need for visa-free access is greater than ever. “Across the economic spectrum, individuals want to transcend the constraints imposed on them by their country of origin and access business, financial, career, and lifestyle opportunities on a global scale. The Henley Passport Index shows individuals where they lie on the spectrum of global mobility, revealing the strength that their passport has in relation to other passports,” he says.
Of the 199 countries featured on the index, 143 improved their rank over the past year and 41 countries maintained their position. In terms of visa-free access, only seven countries saw their level of access reduced over the past year: Azerbaijan, New Zealand, Antigua and Barbuda, Algeria, Laos, North Korea and Syria all lost visa-free access to a single country. By contrast, 18 countries maintained their level of access year-on-year, and the remainder of countries (174 in total) saw an improvement in their level of access compared to 2017.
“There is no denying that a global mobility divide exists,” says Dr. Kälin. “We are also seeing a growing tendency towards a more isolationist, immigration-hostile policy among traditional migrant-receiving countries such as the US, and 2018 will bring further uncertainty, with the UK still in the grip of ongoing Brexit negotiations. Nonetheless, only a small minority of countries on the Henley Passport Index lost visa-free access in 2018. By and large, countries either improved or maintained their access compared to 2017. These findings reflect the fact that, while certain countries are tightening their borders, most are in fact becoming more open, as they seek to tap into the immense economic value that tourism, international commerce and migration can bring.”