Frustrated with the restrictions placed on South African passport holders? There’s no reason to be. The Henley Passport Index has just released their annual passport rankings for 2020, and South Africans have access to 100 countries across the globe that they can visit visa free, or with a visa on arrival.
The South African passport is ranked as the third most powerful on the continent, trumped only by Mauritius and Seychelles. It may be surprising that last year’s index indicated that South Africans had access to 101 countries without paying for a visa prior to their travels, but the drop is a more complicated matter than it seems.
In the last quarter of 2019, a number of already higher ranking countries moved even further up the list, automatically pushing South Africa down in the process. This shift came just as Djibouti announced that it would no longer provide South African tourists with a visa on arrival, entailing use of its e-visa policy instead.
The African Continental Free Trade Agreement is also making its mark on visa liberalisation. Both Namibia and Sierra Leone acted in accordance with the agreement, allowing a number of states visa free entrance. This caused their index ranking to rise, thereby prompting the decline of South Africa’s position. This illustrates how the ranking system also takes into account the steps that countries are taking to improve their global access levels.
African countries that allow South Africans visa free entry are Angola, Benin, Botswana, Djibouti, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Saint Helena, Senegal, Seychelles, eSwatini (formerly Swaziland), Somalia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, while Cape Verde, Comoros, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar, Tanzania, Togo Tunisia and Uganda issue South African passport holders with on-arrival visas.
That’s quite an extensive list, but that doesn’t mean that visa free travel for South Africans is limited to the greater continent. Most of South and Central America is also firmly on the list, including Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Bolivia Cayman Islands, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Falkland Islands, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Montserrat, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, Uruguay and Venezuela.
Other highlights include Hong Kong, Macao, Malaysia, Maldives, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand in Asia, as well as Iran, Israel, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar in the Middle East.
While no North American territories allow South Africans visa free travel, there are surprisingly a few European countries that do. Ireland, Kosovo, Russia, Georgia and France’s Reunion Island can all be entered with just a South African passport in hand. Remember to book one of our European SIM card packages while you plan your visa free European holiday.
To see the full ranking of passports, as well as a comprehensive list of visa free countries for tourists entering on a South African passport, be sure to view the 2020 Henley Passport Index here. You may find that your next bucket list destination may not be as far afield as you think!
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