Ukraine continues to climb in global passport index as visa-free options expand

  • Ukraine continues to climb in global passport index as visa-free options expand
Issue 122, April 2019.

Ukraine has improved its position once again in the latest edition of the annual Henley & Partners Passport Index, a yearly survey which assesses the global reach of individual national passports. In the 2019 edition of the Index, Ukraine climbed two positions to occupy fortieth spot with visa-free access to 128 countries.

This is the latest annual gain by Ukraine, which leapt 16 places in 2018 to become the Index’s biggest climber of the year. Ukraine has secured a series of visa-free access breakthroughs since the country’s 2014 Revolution of Dignity. Major landmarks have included an end to visa requirements for short stays within the EU’s Schengen Zone. The process continues to gain momentum. In April 2019, Thailand became the latest country to lift visa restrictions for Ukrainian passport holders.  

Ukraine’s gains place it above all CIS countries in the Index and represent a dramatic reversal following over two decades of visa woes which saw citizens of post-Soviet Ukraine often subjected to intrusive and complex visa procedures that served as an informal Iron Curtain. Although international travel was theoretically possible for any Ukrainian citizen following the collapse of Soviet communism, in practical terms many found that they lacked the finances or documentation required to secure visa access to the wider world.

This makes the visa-free progress of recent years particularly significant. The slow but steady removal of visa barriers for Ukrainian passport holders is seen by many as an important element of the country’s post-2014 progress, providing easier access to international travel while broadening the country’s business and cultural horizons. After decades when foreign travel was directly or indirectly restricted, exposure to the wider world is now expected to have a profound long-term impact on Ukrainian society.