You are currently viewing our desktop site, do you want to download our app instead?
Moneyweb Android App Moneyweb iOS App Moneyweb Mobile Web App

NEW SENS search and JSE share prices

More about the app

SA passport the 53rd most powerful globally – index

Singapore and Japan passports rank highest, allowing holders visa-free access to 190 countries, notes Move Up’s Ryan Rennison.

NOMPU SIZIBA: The travelling world can be an expensive business if you don’t have the right passport. The Henley Passport Index ranks South Africa’s passport as the 53rd most powerful passport out of 107 countries. The South African passport allows access to some 100 countries, but of course there are more powerful passports in terms of the number of countries they can access without a visa.

Well, to tell us about some of these powerful passport countries, and what attributes they have, given this power, I’m joined on the line by Ryan Rennison, the managing director of Move Up. Thanks very much for joining us, Ryan. What does it mean to have a powerful passport?

RYAN RENNISON: Thanks, Nompu, for having me on the show. To have a powerful passport just boils down to how many countries you can visit visa-free. So the more countries you can visit visa-free, the more powerful the passport is.

NOMPU SIZIBA: Which are some of the countries that rank highly in this regard, and what characteristics do they have that enable their citizens to mostly roam free across many parts of the world?

RYAN RENNISON: In a global context, there are 196 countries in the world, and the top passports will allow travel to 190 countries – them being Tokyo and offhand I can’t recall the other one [Singapore]. But those are the most powerful passports that allow for visitation rights.

NOMPU SIZIBA: What about the typical countries that one would think of? Maybe the United States, the UK – presumably they are fairly powerful passports.

RYAN RENNISON: Surprisingly, the first-world countries – they are competing on this. They are up in the top 10, yes, but they are not necessarily in the top three percentage.

NOMPU SIZIBA: So it’s the Asian countries that are overshooting them?

RYAN RENNISON: At this stage, yes.

NOMPU SIZIBA: What about dual citizenship? Are there many countries that South Africans can get dual citizenship with, and what usually is the qualification?

RYAN RENNISON: Yes, South Africans can get dual citizenship with any country if they wish, and that is a strategy that some South African investors or those able to pursue a certain nationality look at.

If I were to get another nationality, what benefits would that country’s nationality bring? From my perspective, there is a lot of emphasis or overhyping of how many countries you could visit with a nationality. The South African passport allows you to visit, without a visa, 100 countries. The reality is the average traveller or the average person can only visit at max nine countries in their lifetime – that’s the average traveller.

So, with that in mind, to have access to 100 countries – are you really going to utilise that freedom of travel? Is there really a need to make such a big thing about that access?

NOMPU SIZIBA: Yes, but it’s not about the number, is it? It’s about the destination. The destination you want to go to – does it allow you to go in there [visa] free?

RYAN RENNISON: Yes. and that’s what the Henley Partners demographic doesn’t represent. It doesn’t define what those countries are. That [requires] further studies. 

NOMPU SIZIBA: So, Ryan, is it quite easy for high net worth individuals to be able to get a more powerful passport? In other words, if you have a good value proposition for an economy, like you are going to build a business or something like that, can you get a passport that way?

RYAN RENNISON: Yes. Entrepreneurial skills are encouraged by other countries, most definitely. And also if you can bring in foreign investment, yes. A lot of countries open their doors and make provisions for that.

NOMPU SIZIBA: With the United States we know that President Trump has been keen to stem immigration. But what about the Green Card? How easy is it for one to get one’s hands on that, and of course I do understand that a Green Card is a sort of visa and not an American passport per se.

RYAN RENNISON: Yes. My immigration experience lies primarily in the United Kingdom immigration [experience]. So the US is a bit out of my grasp.

NOMPU SIZIBA: No problem.

RYAN RENNISON: But I do keep my eye on it and I seen that he (Trump) has increased his investment threshold. So he’s open to foreign investment, but you’ll need to pay more in the coming years to get access to that Green Card.

NOMPU SIZIBA: Just to conclude, do you think that the South African passport is powerful enough as it is?

RYAN RENNISON: Look, it would be nicer if we could get access to more first-world countries visa-free, that’s what we don’t have access to. At this stage we can get to our neighbouring countries quite easily, and some good holiday, island destinations that are also up for grabs without a visa.

NOMPU SIZIBA: Thanks so much, Ryan, for your time.

Please consider contributing as little as R20 in appreciation of our quality independent financial journalism.



Sort by:
  • Oldest first
  • Newest first
  • Top voted

You must be signed in to comment.


Lets ask, how many 1st world countries can an SA passport holder visit without a visa? There lies the crunch.

Nompu, a nice subject that should be looked at in further depth and with the view in mind that the Minister responsible for negotiating with more countries to have SA citizens allowed to visit many more countries visa free. Many countries citizens can visit SA visa free but SA citizens need visas to go to those countries. It should be reciprocal.

Ryan Rennison states that because the average traveller from SA only visits an average of 9 countries in their life time, he says “Is there really a need to make such a big thing about that access?” Well Ryan, the answer is a very big YES. Because the average South African visits popular countries like the USA, UK,Canada, or one of many Schengen member countries in Europe, Australia or New Zealand and a few others all of which need individual visas for short or transit visits. So for the most part, SA citizens needs to pay heavily for expensive visas on top of their travel costs and hotels with our constantly devaluing currency that is almost not with the paper it is printed on. Often, getting the visas are difficult because Embassies require you to go to them or to other appointed agencies at far distances from where the SA citizen lives. And also, standing with a begging bowl at some embassies that treat you like a wanted criminal is also not a great experience. The German Embassy in Pretoria is a perfect example of abuse by its staff.

So Nompu, please do a show where you can get the responsible minister to come in and then explain why they have not negotiated more countries to give visa free access to South Africans, Countries like those I listed in the last paragraph.

Agree, I’m really shocked at Rayn’s warped sense of logic. Almost sounds like an ANC spin doctor.

Classic logic, as you say. Unbelievable. The average traveller visits nine countries, so why have visas for 100 countries? The answer is obvious. Average travellers all visit the same nine countries. How come I never knew that?

Can a South African since the end of apartheid visit more or less first world countries without a visa?
My guess is less.
The question then is why?
I can understand that a visa was a sanction on the apartheid regime, but what is being punished now?

The UK imposed visa requirements close to 10 years ago after fraudulent passport were discovered in the hands of Pakistanis entering the UK and could not speak english to the immigration officials. The Pakistanis came to SA first, then bought SA passports from corrupt Home Affairs officials, The UK strongly warned South Africa to close the loophole and stop the fraud at Home Affairs, SA did nothing at the time because the gravy train and the feeding trough were more important. Hence, all countries insist on visas so they can ensure the passports presented are not fake.

My friend, the sanctions against SA (since apartheid) has never been lifted.

Hence we pay the economic price to the very day, and it explains our current difficulties.

Ask yourself, what have you done lately (or ever) to have more privilege (as you feel entitled to) than any of the other 53 countries with more passport power than you?

What have you done lately (or ever) to deserve more passport power than the 142 countries below you?

Entitlement perhaps?

No, living a life as a law abiding citizen.
Stop dragging your PC views into everything, debate the issue.

You clearly don’t understand that I have 1 vote. I cannot change the world alone. The UK imposed visa requirements so they could monitor the results of the mass destruction caused by greedy Home Affairs officials and corruption. So, instead of asking me what I have done to get more privileges, best ask yourself what you have done to helps to corruption and mismanagement of the country.

@anything ….generally you troll ….sharing no real discourse to general narrative

….now you have, welcome to discussion and stop feeling so entitled to ever only insult and berate

So, you just feel entitled that your third world country deserves better than other countries because… well you won’t say. And calling you out on it is ‘PC’. Pitiful. The usual entitlement by you.

South Africa started with a major cost cutting exercise in the early 1990’s in terms of reducing Home Affairs representation (i.e. visa issuing officials) in our foreign missions. This went hand in hand with the unilateral lifting of visa requirements for many countries across the globe. Visa negotiations between nations are usually dealt with on a reciprocal basis. However, once you have unilaterally lifted visa requirements for a specific nation’s citizens without a quid pro quo from the other country, you have, of course, lost most of your bargaining power. This, coupled with SA passport forgeries and illegal passport issuing over the years has not served us well.

What 53 countries? Any first world?

Google ‘HENLEY PASSPORT INDEX 2006 to 2019’. You will find everything there and the tools to check each and every countries passports of where they can go and where not.

We have regressed since 1994 mostly due to ANC corruption (at home affairs). Shows that the biggest restriction or risk to freedoms of movement is corruption.

If we have stopped it then we should be applying reciprocity to get back our freedoms of movement.

citation needed. Or will that get in the way of the need to be a victim?

For the record, South Africa is rated 53rd out of 199 countries. Not 107 as is stated in the article. Most of the Western nations of the first world take the top slots. South Africans can visit only 100 of the 199 nations rated visa free or visa on arrival. Brazil and Argentina can visit 170 visa free, Mexico 158, Mauritius 146, New Zealand 182, Russia 117, and Seychelles 151 – just to name a few. So there is nothing for South Africa to be proud of with only 100 visa free places to go to.

Exactly. The default position in an ideal world should be that no one needs a visa to gain entry to another country. If visas are then imposed, there must be reasons (i.e. political, economic etc). Given SA’s position on the Henley Index, particularly the requirement for visas to visit first world countries, shows you what those governments think of the liberated ANC led SA. The individual may be a law abiding citizen, but is tainted and judged according to their government. And then some commentators think it has to do with entitlement.

Spot on. Call a spade a spade. A S A passport is NOT WORTH MUCH.

End of comments.





Follow us:

Search Articles:
Click a Company: