Germany has retained its position at the top of the Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index in the 2017 edition of the annual travel freedom ranking.
Global residence and citizenship advisory firm Henley & Partners produces its index in partnership with the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which claims to maintain the world’s largest database of travel information.
Even after losing visa-free admission to one country, Germany holds on to its top spot on the index for the second year running with access to 176 countries in total.
Sweden also remains static in second place, with 175 countries, and Denmark, Finland, Italy, Spain and the US jointly rank third, with their nationals enjoying access to 174 countries without a visa.
The UK, however, has slipped down yet another position this year to fourth, having shared first place with Germany for three consecutive years from 2013–2015.
Syria, Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan sit at the very bottom of the index, each with visa-free access to fewer than 30 countries worldwide. This shows a slight change from last year’s ranking, with Somalia rising out of the bottom four with access now to 30 countries, and Syria dropping into it with only 29.
Dr Christian H. Kälin, chairman of Henley & Partners, says: “We have witnessed several major events recently that are likely to have an impact on global mobility – including Brexit and the election of US President Donald Trump. Both can be interpreted as steps toward restricting movement and creating barriers to entry. This trend towards curbing travel freedom is already apparent in the shift in rankings on this year’s Visa Restrictions Index”.
The biggest mover in this year’s index was Peru, gaining 15 places.
“There is still huge disparity in the levels of travel freedom between countries, despite the world becoming seemingly more mobile and interdependent. Generally, visa requirements are a reflection of a country’s relationship with others, and take into account diplomatic relationships between countries, reciprocal visa arrangements, security risks, and the dangers of visa and immigration regulation violations,” explains Dr Kälin.
Dr Kälin adds that countries that offer the most important citizenship-by-investment programmes in the world continue to perform strongly on the index. “Malta offers the top-ranked investment migration programme globally and scores very highly with the world’s 10th most powerful passport and visa-free access to 167 countries. Austria is also in the Top 10 with a total of 173 countries and Cyprus is not far behind at 16, with 158 countries accessible without a visa.”