SA ranking on passport index remains stable

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Fourth place saw Denmark, Finland, Italy and Sweden have access to 187 countries.

As of late 2018, Ukraine ranked 41 in the list, while Ukrainians are allowed visa-free travel to 128 countries.

The Henley Passport Index is based on data provided by the International Air Transport Authority (IATA) and covers 199 passports and 227 travel destinations.

Japan is in first place, with its citizens able to travel visa-free or obtain a visa on arrival in 190 countries, according to the 2019 Henley Passport Index.

U.S. and United Kingdom passports both dropped in the rankings dropping from fifth in 2018 to a joint sixth place - which Henley described as a "significant fall" from the first place position these countries held in 2015.

Notable movers in the latest ranking include South Korea, which reached a new high in second spot, while the U.S. and United Kingdom jointly share sixth spot - a significant fall from grace, given they jointly held the top spot in 2015.

Further down the list, North Korea ranks in 96th place, along with Iran and Ethiopia, . whose citizens can travel visa-free to 42 countries.

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Meanwhile, Ireland was ranked seventh alongside Belgium, Canada and Greece all of which can travel to 184 destinations. It has now moved up the ranking following a recent visa-on-arrival agreement with India.

Its 2019 index put Saudi Arabia on top with a "visa-free score" of 167, followed by Germany on 166 and Singapore, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Luxembourg, France, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Norway, South Korea and the USA ranked third-equal with a score of 165.

The UAE gained more visa exemptions for its citizens in 2018 than any other country in the world. It is updated in real time throughout the year, as and when visa policy changes come into effect.

Dr. Christian H. Kälin, Group Chairman of Henley & Partners, said, "Historical data from the Henley Passport Index over the past 14 years shows an overwhelming global tendency towards visa-openness".

'In 2006, a citizen, on average, could travel to 58 destinations without needing a visa from the host nation; by the end of 2018, this number had almost doubled to 107'.

As in 2018, countries with citizenship-by-investment (CBI) programs continue to hold their strong positions on the index.

Malta sits in ninth spot, with access to 182 destinations and St. Kitts and Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda hold 27th and 28th spot respectively, while Moldova remains in a strong position at 46th place, with citizens able to access 122 countries.

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