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UK Passports Offer Better Travel Freedom Since Brexit

Since the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union in 2016, opponents have warned that the citizens’ ability to travel would be harmed. But recently published data tells a slightly more complicated story. has compared data from before and after Brexit to show how British citizens’ ability to travel has changed in the intervening years.

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United Kingdom
Top Findings: - In 2016, the UK ranked third on the world passport index list, with access to 175 different locations but has now dropped to number six on 2022’s list. - A UK passport actually provides access to 11 more locations in 2022 than it did in 2016.

How Does a British Passport Compare to Other Countries?

The Henley Passport Index is an annual research project that evaluates the relative power of passports from 199 countries. It determines how many locations each passport allows its holders to access visa-free or with visa-on-arrival, creating a global ranking.

In 2022, Japan and Singapore top the list, with a passport that boasts access to 192 locations. They are followed by Germany and South Korea, each accessing 190 locations. At the bottom of the list is Afghanistan, whose citizens have access to just 26 locations.

The British passport has always ranked relatively high in these listings — in 2006, it ranked number three, and in 2010, it topped the list. However, its relative power has begun to wane, and in 2022’s list, it ranks at joint number six alongside the United States, Switzerland, Norway, New Zealand, and Belgium.

However, it is important to note that this is a relative ranking. Brits’ access to international locations has actually grown in the last few years, meaning passport holders now have access to 186 locations across the globe, whereas, in 2016, they could access just 175.

Why Has the British Passport Gotten Stronger?

Despite dropping in relative terms, a British passport grants access to more countries than it did before Brexit. This is because a number of states have lifted visa requirements for British citizens in the last six years, including Belarus (in 2017), Uzbekistan (in 2019), Turkey and Oman (in 2020), Bulgaria and Romania (in 2021), and Afghanistan (in 2022).

Perhaps most strikingly, many of these changes came into action after COVID-19 hit. So while legal restrictions made it largely impossible to travel internationally, Brits have actually emerged from the pandemic with greater freedom to travel than ever before.

Limitations Not Factored In

This methodology is solid but doesn’t present the complete picture of individuals’ travel rights. An obvious example is the EU. As a member of the Schengen Area, UK citizens could travel freely and without limits across 26 countries in Europe. Since Brexit, this has been restricted.

While Brits can still enter these countries visa-free for 90 days every 180 days, this significantly limits the ability for UK passport holders to travel across the continent for an extended period — as has become increasingly popular with things like digital nomading.

“This research illustrates the fact that international travel is, in some ways, becoming easier for British citizens,” says Jonathan Merry, CEO of “But it also suggests that the nature of that travel is changing, with a wider scope of available destinations but less freedom in neighboring countries across the EU.”
Jonathan Merry, CEO of

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Toby McInnis
Toby McInnis
Toby McInnis is a writer based in London. He works with some of the fastest growing startups in the world, covering industries as diverse as finance, technology, logistics and healthcare.