International Visa Restrictions

The Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index Celebrates Ten Years

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The Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index is a global ranking of countries according to the travel freedom that their citizens enjoy. In cooperation with IATA and based on official data from their unique global database, Henley & Partners has analyzed the visa regulations of all the countries and territories in the world for the last ten years and in 2015 published the 10th Anniversary Index.  This year’s Index, along with the unique cumulative data from the last ten years, gives an unprecedented and inimitable insight into the development of visa policies over this time. 

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In today's globalized world, visa restrictions play an important role in controlling the movement of foreign nationals across borders. Almost all countries now require visas from certain non-nationals who wish to enter their territory. Visa requirements are also an expression of the relationships between individual nations, and generally reflect the relations and status of a country within the international community of nations.

Visa Restrictions

Visa restrictions are imposed by countries to control the crossing of their borders. Almost all countries now require visas from certain non-citizens who wish to enter (or leave) their territory.

A visa does not guarantee entry, however. 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.

A visa allows you to travel to the destination country as far as the port of entry (airport, seaport or land border crossing) and ask the immigration officer to allow you to enter the country. In most countries the immigration officer has the authority to permit you to enter. He or she usually also decides how long you can stay for any particular visit.

Visa Requirements

It is important to find out before travelling whether you need a visa to enter your destination or transit country.

While visa restrictions are primarily based on citizenship, the holding of a residence permit may also be of importance. For example, if you are resident in any EU country that is part of the Schengen zone, you may travel visa-free throughout that zone.

To check whether you need a visa, you can search the IATA Timatic database which you can access here.

The following is an overview of selected countries taken from the Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index - Global Ranking 2015:

Rank Score*
Rank Score*
16Hong Kong152
26Antigua and Barbuda133
27St. Kitts and Nevis131

*Number of countries and territories which can be entered without a visa by a citizen of the respective country

The Schengen Area

The Schengen Agreement is a treaty signed between five of the 10 member states of the European Community in 1985. It was supplemented by the Convention implementing the Schengen Agreement some five years later. It provided for the removal of systematic border controls between the participating countries.

Later on, the Treaty of Amsterdam incorporated the legal framework brought about meanwhile, the so-called Schengen-Acquis, by the agreement into the European Union framework, effectively making the agreement part of the EU and its modes of legislature.

Ireland and the UK opted out of Schengen's border control arrangements, while participating in certain provisions relating to judicial and police cooperation. The borderless zone created by the Schengen Agreements, the Schengen Area, currently consists of 22 EU countries (Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden), plus Norway, Iceland and Switzerland, which by separate agreements fully apply the provisions of the Schengen acquis.

Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Romania are not yet full members of the Schengen area, since the border controls between them and the Schengen area will be maintained until the EU Council decides that the conditions for abolishing internal border controls have been met. However, since the date of accession they do apply parts of the Schengen acquis, in particular in the area of police and judicial cooperation and of external border control.

The UK and Ireland have chosen to maintain border controls with other EU countries and are therefore outside the Schengen area (although they have been authorised to apply some of the provisions on police and judicial co-operation in criminal matters). Click here for more information.

Download the latest Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index

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