British citizens can travel more extensively around the world without visas than passport holders from any other country, it has been revealed.
According to Henley & Partners bi-annual Visa Restrictions Index, a global ranking of countries according to the travel freedoms their citizen enjoy, British citizens can visit 166 destinations across the globe and stay for at least three days, for business or pleasure, without a visa.
This year, the UK has displaced Denmark, whose citizens can travel to 164 countries without visas, from first position. Sweden, Germany, Belgium, Italy, France, Finland and Japan are among the other countries that also rank highly on the index.
The index reflects relationships between individual nations, as well as the status of a country within the international community.
This year the US has slipped down to seventh position, with visa-free access to 159 countries. When the first index was published in 2006, the US ranked at the top with Finland and Denmark, but slipped to number three in 2008.
Among BRIC countries, citizens of Brazil have the greatest freedom to travel, with no visa restrictions in 130 destinations. China ranks very low with visa-free access to only 38 countries. North Korea, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan are ranked at the bottom.
The Henley & Partners website points out, however, that a visa does not guaranteed entry to a country: “It merely indicates that your passport and visa application have been reviewed by a consular officer at an embassy or consulate of the country you wish to enter, and that the officer has determined that you are generally eligible to enter the country for a specific purpose.”