Power of SA passport continues to drop in global ranking
In the latest real-time update of the Henley Passport Index, the podium is topped by a trio of Asian countries.
Going into 2019, Japan leads the charts, with citizens enjoying visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 190 destinations around the world - the most of any other country.
Singapore and South Korea share second spot at 189 countries, while France and Germany are tied at third spot.
Overall, Asian countries dominate the latest updated index, signaling Asia's growing mobility and the world's open-door policy to countries in the region - an asset that has the potential to contribute billions to the global economy and create employment opportunities around the world, says Henley index creator Christian Kaelin.
Notable movers in the latest ranking include South Korea, which reached a new high in second spot, while the US and UK jointly share sixth spot - a significant fall from grace, given they jointly held the top spot in 2015.
The South Africa passport continued its downward slide on the global ranking, slipping a spot lower since October 2018. It currently ranks at number 53 from 52.
The number of countries South Africans can visit without a visa also declined by one to 101 from 102 in October. (This includes countries where no visa is needed and those where a visa can be obtained on arrival.)
When compared to other African nations, the South African passport is the third most powerful on the continent. The Seychelles takes first place with passport holders having visa-free access to 151 destinations. Mauritius comes in second place with visa-free access to 145 countries.
All three countries saw their visa-free access to destinations drop by one from the previous ranking.
The ranking indexes 185 countries and is based on data from the International Air Transport Authority (IATA).
Here are the world's most powerful passports according to the latest Henley Passport Index:
- Japan - visa-free access to 190 countries
- South Korea, Singapore - visa-free access to 189 countries
- France, Germany - visa-free access to 188 countries
- Denmark, Finland, Italy, Sweden - visa-free access to 187 countries
- Spain, Luxembourg - visa-free access to 186 countries
- Austria, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland, US, UK - visa-free access to 185 countries
- Belgium, Canada, Greece, Ireland - visa-free access to 184 countries
- Czech Republic - visa-free access to 183 countries
- Malta - visa-free access to 182 countries
- Australia - visa-free access to 181 countries
• Additional reporting staff reporter.