Travel and Tourism Writer
The Aussie passport has been ranked as one of the best in the world for travellers, based on the number of countries Australians can visit without a visa.
The best passports are from the UK, Finland and Sweden, according to an index by Henley & Partners, a consultancy in residence and citizenship planning.
Each of the top three passports scored 173 in the rankings, meaning they can be used to enter 173 countries and territories without a visa.
The joint second-ranked countries are Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg and the US with a score of 172.Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands hold a joint third rank of 171, followed by Canada in fourth with 170, then Switzerland, Austria and New Zealand fifth with 168.
Australia is ranked equal sixth with Greece and Singapore with visa-free entry to 167 countries.
The worst passport, number 93 on the list, is from Afghanistan with a score of just 28, closely followed by Iraq (31), Somalia and Pakistan (32 each).
Their lowly scores indicate their citizens have the least freedom of travel.
The annual Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index started in 2006.
According to the company, visa restrictions are an important tool for governments to control the movement of foreigners across borders.
“At the same time, visa requirements, or the lack thereof, are also an indication of the relationship between individual nations and the status of a country within the international community of nations,” a company statement said.
A spokesman for Flight Centre said some of the most common visas sought by Australians are for Cambodia and Vietnam, as well as the visa-waiver program for the US.
“Some visa application processes are easier than others,” the spokesman said. “The US has an electronic system (ESTA) which is easy for customers to complete online while the process to obtain a Chinese or Indian visa can sometimes take a few months. In Russia, as another example, you need written approval so the approval process can take a while.”
In addition, some countries such as Argentina charge Australians a reciprocity fee to enter the country.
The $US100 fee has been imposed in response to Australia charging Argentine citizens to come here. Americans and Canadians are also slugged with a fee.
Meanwhile, India has announced it is looking to ease visa rules for more than 40 countries by issuing visas on arrival to boost its tourism industry.
Australia will be among the countries to benefit from the new rules, as well as the US, Britain, Canada, Brazil, France and Germany.
India already issues visas on arrival to visitors from about a dozen countries, including New Zealand.
Best countries to have a passport from
1. UK, Finland, Sweden (number of visa-free countries 173)
2. Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, USA (172)
3. Belgium, Italy, Netherlands (171)
4. Canada, France, Ireland, Japan, Norway, Portugal, Spain (170)
5. New Zealand, Switzerland, Austria (168)
6. Australia, Greece, Singapore (167)
7. South Korea (166)
8. Iceland (165)
9. Malaysia, Malta (163)
10. Liechtenstein (159)
… and the worst
Pakistan, Somalia (32)