Access (almost) all areas: the British passport is No.1 for visa-free travel

Holders are able to visit 173 of the world's nations while Afghans can visit only 28 countries free of formalities

Travel Correspondent

The British enjoy the widest range of visa-free travel on the planet. Along with citizens of Finland and Sweden, holders of UK passports are able to visit 173 of the world's nations without applying for a visa.

The annual 2013 Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index ranks countries according to the number of nations their citizens can access with just a passport. The results show that membership of the European Union is a key determinant of ease of movement across frontiers.

Nine out of 10 of the top countries are EU members: Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands join the leading three, with only the United States representing the rest of the world. Citizens of all these countries can travel to more than 170 other nations visa-free.

The least advantageous passports to possess remain the same as they have in previous years. Pakistan and Somalia tie for third-worst place, with just 32 nations allowing passport-only access. Citizens of Iraq can visit only 31, while the least popular nationality in terms of red tape is Afghanistan. Holders of passports issued in Kabul are able to visit only 28 countries free of formalities, with 87 per cent of the world's nations putting up the shutters.

The compilers assert that there are 219 countries in the world. No nationality is able to access as many as 80 per cent of the destination countries, but there is a strong correlation between average wealth and access to open frontiers. The second group of 10 countries includes Canada, Japan, Norway, New Zealand and Switzerland.

The imbalance between ease of access for citizens of rich nations and the lack of openness displayed by those countries was revealed in a World Tourism Organization report, which reported that three-quarters of the world's population requires a visa ahead of travelling to Europe.

In the Henley & Partners survey there is a wide gap between the "old" EU and the "new". Of the former Iron Curtain countries, Hungary performs best. Bulgaria and Romania are a long way down the list, sandwiched between Brazil and Barbados. Russians are allowed visa-free access to 95 countries, one more than citizens of Turkey and South Africa - the highest-placed African nation. South Africans are significantly better placed than the four lowest-placed European countries: Bosnia-Herzegovina (91), Albania (88), Belarus (61) and Moldova (59). The latter lies below Cuba, Kazakhstan and Zimbabwe.

Citizens of the two most populous nations are placed low in the listing. India, with 1.2 billion people, issues a passport that opens doors to only 52 countries - one fewer than Burkina Faso and Indonesia, the fourth-most populous. China, with 1.3 billion, rates only 44, behind Vietnam, Cambodia and East Timor. This week the Home Secretary, Theresa May, indicated that she will relax Britain's tight visa rules in a bid to encourage more tourism from the People's Republic. Citizens of Hong Kong and Macau, both autonomous regions of China, can travel to many more countries - 152 in the case of Hong Kong.

At the other end of the size and population spectrum, being small is no guarantee of accessibility. San Marino, Andorra and Monaco fail to break the 150 barrier, though Liechtenstein makes 159.

Neil Taylor, a guide and tour operator with wide experience of present and former communist countries, said there was evidence of individual locations over-riding national rules in order to attract tourists: "Russian visas remain complex, but if you take a cruise to St Petersburg you can dodge the red tape. The same applies to the 72-hour stopover scheme just introduced by several major gateways to China."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Fraud contributes 11p to a £2.00 box of half a dozen eggs
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the Jurassic World trailer
film

Video: The official full-length trailer for the Jurassic Park sequel has dropped – two days early

Environment
The plant ‘Nepenthes zygon’ was donated to Kew in 2004
environment
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer snapped celebrities for 40 years - but it wasn’t all fun and games
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
peopleSinger tells The Independent what life is like in rehab in an exclusive video interview
News
Muhammad Ali pictured in better health in 2006
peopleBut he has enjoyed publicity from his alleged near-death experience
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
News
news
News
The assumption that women are not as competent in leadership positions as men are leads to increased stress in the workplace
science... and it's down to gender stereotypes
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Investigo: Financial reporting Accountant

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits : Investigo: One of the fastest growing g...

    Sphere Digital Recruitment: CRM Executive – Global Travel Brand – Luton – £25k

    25,000: Sphere Digital Recruitment: CRM Executive – Global Travel Brand – Luto...

    Investigo: Group Financial Controller

    £50000 - £55000 per annum: Investigo: A growing group of top end restaurants l...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Excellent opportunities are available for par...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

    Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
    Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

    Putin’s far-right ambition

    Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
    Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

    Escape to Moominland

    What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
    Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

    24-Hour party person

    Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
    Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

    A taste for rebellion

    US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
    Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

    Colouring books for adults

    How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
    Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

    What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

    Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
    Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

    Call me Ed Mozart

    Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
    10 best stocking fillers for foodies

    Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

    From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
    Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

    Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

    Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
    'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

    'I am a paedophile'

    Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
    How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

    How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

    Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
    Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

    From a lost deposit to victory

    Green Party on the march in Bristol
    Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

    Winter blunderlands

    Putting the grot into grotto
    'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

    'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

    London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital