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Mon May 30 03:08:10 SAST 2016

SA passport tangled with red tape

Leonie Wagner | 09 March, 2016 00:45
The most coveted passport is the German passport, which allows travellers to enter 177 of the 218 countries and territories without a visa. File photo
Image by: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

As a conduit to the rest of the world, the South African passport does not get you all that far.

It is ranked 54th in the world in the 2016 Visa Restrictions Index, which measures how freely citizens can travel to other countries without red tape.

The most coveted passport is the German passport, which allows travellers to enter 177 of the 218 countries and territories without a visa.

The annual index was compiled by London consulting firm Henley and Partners and the International Air Transport Association. The list ranks nations according to how freely its citizens can travel without immigration red tape.

Immigration expert Leon Isaacson said: "Our passport agreements reflect the diplomatic arrangements and relationships South Africa has with other countries and the trust that is attached to the document."

Other countries at the bottom of the list were Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia and Syria. The Swedish passport allows its citizens visa-free access to 176 countries. The UK passport is deemed the third-best with the US, Belgium and Canada sharing fourth place.

Isaacson said of South Africa's passport: "There have been problems in the past with fugitives and terrorists using South Africa to hide out or as a transit route. The White Widow is one example, then there's the Italian mafioso Vito Palazzo and the London bombers who all used the country as an easy hideout."

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