With visa-free access to just 112 other countries, Colombians are holders of the 46th most powerful passport in the world, according to an updated ranking by Henley & Partners.
Germany is first with 177 visa-free entries available, while Chile is the top-ranking Latin American nation, coming in at 16th with access to 161 nations. Argentina and Brazil fall right behind their Souther Cone peer, tied for 18th with access to 158 countries apiece.
Despite Colombians continuing to have relatively limited access, they have seen significant improvement over the past half-decade. Five years ago, in the Canadian citizenship and residence advisory firm’s 2013 ranking, Colombia placed 65th overall.
Since then, Colombians have gained visa-free access to the 26 “Schengen” area countries of Europe, including Spain, Germany, France, and Italy. And it has continued to add more destinations since then, improving from 103 in 2016 to 112 now.
Countries Offering Visa-Free Travel
to Colombians by Year
Source: Presidencia de la República
Nevertheless, Colombian passport holders, who still suffer from the stigma of the nation’s reputation for drug-trafficking, continue to have less access than most other Latin American nations. Among those who have greater travel freedom are citizens of Mexico (144 countries), Uruguay (139), Costa Rica (136), Venezuela (130), Paraguay (130), Panama (129), Honduras (123), Guatemala (123), El Salvador (121), Peru (120), and Nicaragua (114).
Among South American countries in the region included in the index, only Ecuador (88) and Bolivia (77) rank below Colombia. The bulk of the nations in the Caribbean also rank higher than Colombia, with Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic being notable exceptions.
There were also some impressive movers in the region, with St. Kitts and Nevis rising to 28th overall in the global rankings in part due to it being one of the Caribbean countries offering “citizenship-by-investment programs” that have “performed well on this year’s index,” according to Henley & Partners.
St. Kitts and Nevis added three additional visa-free destinations last year to improve by two spots in the rankings this year and place fourth in the region. St. Lucia and Grenada also each added three more destinations.
In terms of movement, the Dominican Republic made the most progress, rising by seven spots to come in 73rd overall. Only two Caribbean countries — Trinidad and Tobago as well as Antigua and Barbuda — lost ground in terms of passport power, according to Henley & Partners.
“By and large, countries either improved or maintained their access compared to 2017,” said Christian H. Kalin, group chairman of Henley & Partners. “These findings reflect the fact that, while certain countries are tightening their borders, most are in fact becoming more open, as they seek to tap into the immense economic value that tourism, international commerce, and migration can bring.”
African nations, and some in Asia and the Middle East, have been the exceptions. Of the 27 “biggest fallers since 2008” in terms of losing visa-free travel destinations, 19 have come from Africa. “Only the Seychelles and Mauritius have increased their global rank over the past decade, by 17 and 16 places respectively,” stated the company.
But it is Bangladesh that has fallen the furthest over this period. The Asian nation has dropped by 23 places in the Henley passport rankings since 2008.
In the 2018 index, the three worst-ranking countries in the study are Syria (28), Iraq (27), and Afghanistan (24).
“There is no denying that a global mobility divide exists,” says Kalin. “We are also seeing a growing tendency towards a more isolationist, immigration-hostile policy among traditional migrant-receiving countries such as the U.S., and 2018 will bring further uncertainty, with the UK still in the grip of ongoing Brexit negotiations. Nonetheless, only a small minority of countries on the Henley Passport Index lost visa-free access in 2018.”
(Photo credit: kpgolfpro / Pixabay)