South African passport

Here’s how powerful the South African passport is in 2021

Swisher Post - 09.09.2021

Here’s the updated Henley Index on the power of the South African passport.

Covid-19 changed the face of global travel around the world and in South Africa, with countries applying travel restrictions to limit the spread of the virus. Suspensions of incoming and outgoing flights, nationwide lockdowns and airport closures forced travellers to shelve their passports.

But the rollout of vaccines across the nation spells good news for South Africans itching to cross the border once again. It’s time to put your passport to good use again.

Where can South Africans travel to?

At Alert level 3, South African travellers who have received both their Pfizer shots, or the single-dose Johnson and Johnson (J&J) shot, can go on international trips to specified countries as their borders open up. 

International flights are only being boarded at the big three airports in the country: O.R. Tambo International Airport, Cape Town International Airport, and King Shaka International Airport.

One of the biggest benefits to having a South African passport is the ability to travel visa-free to incredible destinations like Mauritius, Thailand, Ireland, Mozambique and more. 

Where does the South African passport rank globally?

According to Henley’s passport index, South Africa ranks 57th in the global passport power ranking in 2021. The Henley Passport Index ranks the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can travel to without a prior Visa. 

South Africans are able to visit 71 countries Visa-free, with 29 countries requiring proof of Visa on arrival.  This is a drop from 2020’s ranking of 52nd globally, mostly due to Covid-19 travel restrictions. The South African passport was strongest in 2007 and 2008, when it was ranked 35th.

Christian H. Kaelin, chairperson of Henley & Partners said:

“Just a year ago all indications were that the rates of global mobility would continue to rise, that travel freedom would increase, and that holders of powerful passports would enjoy more access than ever before.

“The global lockdown negated these glowing projections, and as restrictions begin to lift, the results from the latest index are a reminder of what passport power really means in a world upended by the pandemic.”

Tips on traveling during the pandemic

Twitter user, Nonhle Beryl shared a tread advising people on how to go about traveling internationally during the pandemic as a South African.

She advised that if you plan on traveling overseas, be sure to visit your destination’s Ministry of Health and/or Travel Department website to keep up to date on travel restrictions and regulations in that country.

“The first and most important thing is that you’re fully vaccinated. Being fully vaccinated will save you from a lot of headaches. In some countries, you’re not allowed inside certain spaces, like restaurants, clubs, museums, etc. if you’re not fully vaccinated.

“It’s CRUCIAL that you thoroughly check the travel restrictions up until the day of departure because they change overnight. I advise delaying booking flight tickets until a week before you travel. If, due to visa application that’s not possible, buy a flexible ticket,” she wrote.

Unfortunately, South Africans still are banned from entering a number of international destinations, despite a fully vaccinated status and a Visa permit due to COVID-19 border restrictions still being implemented across the globe.