Henley & Partners, the global leaders in residence and citizenship planning, has published the annual Visa Restrictions Index for the last decade, and now launches the latest 2015 edition.
In this year’s Index, the Philippine passport was ranked 76th best in the world and Filipinos can enjoy visa-free travel to 60 countries. Along with the rankings, a unique cumulative data from the last ten years, gives an unprecedented and inimitable insight into the development of visa policies over this time.
Enjoy Visa-free travel to 60 countries
Out of 199 evaluated passports, the Philippine passport ranks 76th overall—allowing visa-free travel to a total of 60 countries. This has been the lowest global score garnered by the Philippines in the 10-year analysis of the Visa Restrictions Index.
In Southeast Asia, Singapore continues to lead the region, ranking 5th globally with visa-free access to 169 countries. This is trailed by Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam with visa-free travel to 163 countries and 150 countries respectively.
This has been the eight straight year the Philippine passport is ranked fifth out of 11 nations in the Southeast Asian region. Indonesia and Timor-Leste lag behind the Philippines with visa-free access to 55 and 49 countries consecutively.
In 2006 and 2007, Filipinos enjoyed a fourth place ranking amongst its Southeast Asian peers, until upset by the Thai passport. At a global ranking of 72nd, citizens of Thailand are able to access 68 countries without the need to secure a visa.
Germany and the United Kingdom rank first place, which have the joint highest score with visa-free access to 173 countries.
Somalia (Global rank: 107), Iraq (Global rank: 108) and Afghanistan (Global rank: 109) straggle at the bottom of this year’s Index, with visa-free access to only 30, 29 and 25 countries correspondingly.
Developments in travel freedom
Although the world is becoming ever more globalized, there remains a huge disparity in levels of travel freedom between countries. Visa requirements define and shape individuals’ ability to travel across borders. They also reflect strongly on each country’s relationships with others, and will take into account diplomatic relationships between the countries, reciprocal visa arrangements, security risks, and the risks of visa and immigration rules violations.
Looking at movement over the last decade highlights other interesting patterns. European countries are notable for their stability over this time—Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain and Sweden all remain in exactly the same position as 10 years before.
The “Top Tens” are almost identical, with 30 countries in 2015, compared to 26, 10 years ago. While Liechtenstein dropped, the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Malta, Slovakia and South Korea all made it into the top ten Taiwan, Albania, UAE, Bosnia and Serbia all moved up more than 20 places in the Index over the last ten years, while the biggest drops were experienced by Guinea (-35), Liberia (-36), Sierra Leone (-38) and Bolivia (-40).
The growing importance of investment migration can be seen in steady growth of those countries offering residence and citizenship-by-investment. Those countries with relevant programs continue to perform strongly and all now feature in the top 40 of the Index.
This decade has also seen the launch of the Investment Migration Council, the worldwide association for investor immigration and citizenship-by-investment, highlighting the increasing understanding and acceptance of this important force in globalization.
The global progress in travel freedom looks set to continue for citizens of all countries.