Ireland has 18th most valuable passport in the world in Henley Index (but should it be 11th?)

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  • Japan was world’s most valuable passport
  • Access to 190 out of 218 countries 
  • Ireland can access 186 destinations without a visa
  • Ranked joint 18th but Vietnam discrepancy places Ireland 11th
  • Rival ranking Nomad rates Ireland second in the world

Visa-free travel to 186 countries for Irish Citizens

Ireland is joint 18th in the quarterly Henley passport Index having visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 186 countries and territories.

Christian Kälin‘s rather controversial Henley & Partners, a citizenship and planning firm, uses publicly available and reliable online sources to cross-check each passport against 227 possible travel destinations (218 countries and nine territories) to see how many countries can be visited without applying for a visa.

The index is inconsistent. A discrepancy includes its requirement that Irish citizens need a visa for Vietnam but not for Turkey. In both cases the visa can be applied for online (Turkey here and Vietnam here). This would place Ireland back in 11th place, which it held in 2017.

The rival Nomad passport index, which ranks passports against five factors, recently placed Ireland in joint second place behind Luxemburg and alongside Switzerland. Nomad says having an Irish passport means being able to visit 176 countries without needing any visas and adds that dual citizenship is allowed. Add to the equation that Ireland is among the happiest countries in the world, and it’s easy to understand its remarkable ranking. 

A third index the Arton Capital passport index ranked Ireland joint 13th in the third group of countries, with visa free access to 163 countries, having discounted e-visa and visa waiver facilities. Singapore and Germany are joint top.

Christian Kälin of Henley & Partners

According to Henley’s, Japanese citizens can travel to a record 190 out of a possible 218, having recently gained visa-free access to Myanmar, while Singaporeans can visit 189.

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Top 7 groups:

  • 1 Japan – Visa-free access to 190 destinations
  • 2 Singapore – Visa-free access to 189 destinations
  • J3 France, Germany, South Korea – Visa-free access to 188 destinations
  • J6 Denmark, Finland, Italy, Spain, Sweden – Visa-free access to 187 destinations
  • J11 Austria, Britain, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, USA – Visa-free access to 186 destinations
  • J18 Belgium, Canada, Ireland Switzerland – Visa-free access to 186 destinations
  • J22 Australia, Greece, Malta – Visa free access to 183 destinations

Bottom 5 groups:

  • Palestinian Territory, Sudan, Eritrea – Visa-free access to 39 destinations
  • Yemen – Visa-free access to 37 destinations
  • Pakistan – Visa-free access to 33 destinations
  • Somalia, Syria – Visa-free access to 32 destinations
  • Afghanistan, Iraq – Visa-free access to 30 destinations

Ireland has not gained access to any new jurisdictions since the start of the year. Belarus offered Irish citizens visa-free entry in 2017, Kazakhstan renewed their visa-free arrangements and Ethiopia offer a new e-visa option. When visa on arrival is excluded, Irish citizens still need visas to travel to:  Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bhutan, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, China, DR Congo, Congo Rep, Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ghana, Guinea, India, Iraq, North Korea, Liberia, Libya, Mali, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nauru, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Sudan, Suriname, Syria, Turkeminstan, Uzbekistan, Cameroon, Vietnam and Yemen.

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Compared with our nearest neighbours, Britain, Ireland has visa free access to Iran while Britain does not and Britain has visa free access to Suriname while Ireland does not and also Vietnam (up to 15 days), although online visas can be applied for by irish citizens in Vietnam.

Overall, 143 countries saw the value of their passport improve over the course of 2017, while seven countries saw visa-free access reduced. Visa-free travel among Asian countries has improved thanks to up to 40 visa-waiver agreements signed by governments in 2018. African states are increasingly deregulating visa regulations for their continental counterparts. Angola recently removed visa requirements for nine African countries.

Afghanistan and Iraq prop up the Henley’s passport table. Their passport holders can only enter 30 countries without a visa, just behind Syria and Somalia, who each have just 32 accessible countries on their list. There are several other countries not included in the Henley Passport Index that offer even less travel freedom; these are mostly unrecognised countries such as Somaliland.

Henley’s said: Japan and Singapore had previously been joint top both on 189 following a visa-exemption from Uzbekistan, with Germany in third. The most dramatic climb on the Henley Passport Index might come from Kosovo, which officially met all the criteria for visa-liberalization with the EU in July and is now in discussions with the European Council. Russia received a boost in September when Taiwan announced a visa-waiver for Russian nationals (valid until July 2019), but the country has nonetheless fallen from because of movements higher up in the ranking. The same is true of China: Chinese nationals obtained access to two new jurisdictions (St. Lucia and Myanmar), but the Chinese passport fell two places. This is still an impressive 14-place improvement over the position that China held at the start of 2017. UAE has made a stunning ascent on the Henley Passport Index, from 62nd place in 2006 to 21st place worldwide currently. The UAE now holds the number 1 passport in the Middle East region.

A combination of 14 passports would give a traveller visa free access around the world: Afghanistan, Angola, Azerbaijan, Congo, N Korea, Maldives, Mali, Singapore, Syria, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ugana, USA, Vanuatu.

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Ireland ranks Joint 10th in the Henley quality of nationality index behind France, Germany, Iceland, Denmark, Netherland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Italy.

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