United Kingdom comes joint-fourth, behind Germany in top position, while countries on Donald Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’ list rank among worst for ability to travel freely
A German passport remains the most powerful across the globe, while its British equivalent is growing weaker, according to the 2017 update of an annual study which ranks countries on how many other nations they can visit without a visa.
German passport holders can enjoy visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 176 nations across the globe. With the exception of Japan, Canada and the United States, the 20 nations enjoying the freest movement around the globe are all located in Western Europe.
The United Kingdom is joint-fourth, behind seven other nations. A British passport will now secure you access to 173 countries without a visa: that’s the same as Singapore, and less than Italy or Spain. From 2013 to 2015, the UK shared pole position with the Germans, before slumping in 2016.
By contrast, Afghanistan is at the bottom of the pile, according to research compiled by law firm Henley & Partners and seen by The Independent. Citizens of the war-torn nation can travel visa-free to only 24 other countries. Rounding out the bottom five are Iraq, Pakistan, Syria and Somalia.
The 10 nations with the least freedom to travel are all Muslim-majority, with the exception of majority-Hindu Nepal. They include Libya and Yemen, whose citizens were also set to be banned from travel by President Trump. Iran, the final country included in the ban whose second draft was recently blocked by a Hawaiian judge, is in the bottom 20.
Peru was the biggest climber against last year’s ranking, moving up 15 ranks, while Ghana dropped four places and India three, making them the biggest losers in 2017.
Peruvians can now access 114 countries without a visa, compared to 86 last year. In March, the Schengen visa was eliminated for citizens of the South American state, meaning they can now travel through much of Europe visa-free.
However, they must show they have €30,000 (£26,000) in travel funding, plus hotel reservations and a return ticket to Peru, before they can make the trip.
This is one indication that the visa-free travel measure is not the only indicator of a passport’s ‘power’. For example, residents of the Palestinian Territories are ranked as having access to 36 countries, but as all travel into and out of the Territories is controlled by Israel, in practice Palestinians’ travel is far more curtailed.
In a separate list of the world’s ‘most welcoming’ nations for travellers without a visa, published in January this year, the UK ranked 51st.