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The world’s most expensive visas for UK holidaymakers

The world’s most expensive visas for UK holidaymakers

Each year, the Henley Passport Index measures the number of countries travellers can visit visa-free. 

The UK usually ranks reasonably highly: in 2024, with 192 countries visitable visa-free, it came third, level with Denmark and Belgium.

France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore and Spain are all, collectively, the most powerful, with their passport-holders able to visit 194 without the documentation. While the rankings rarely shift dramatically, Britain’s post-Brexit position means that our travel habits may have to change soon – travel to Europe will, eventually, necessitate the purchase of an ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) waiver, valid for three years. 

Such schemes have allowed easier – and cheaper – travel to countries that are perceived as UK allies.

In 2008, the US Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) was introduced in the US – a visa waiver scheme that, subject to security checks, allows the residents of 41 nations to enter the country.

It currently costs around $21, or £17, but if holidaymakers are unable to meet the ESTA criteria, a full visa may be required, at the price of up to $185 (£145).

Similar waiver schemes exist for UK travellers to New Zealand and Canada. And those international relationships can result in some surprising border regulations: in Sri Lanka, almost all travellers require a visa, apart from those based in Hong Kong, Maldives, Seychelles, Singapore and – the only European entry – the Czech Republic, as a result of reciprocity. 

In the countries that the UK does require a visa for, prices vary wildly and are often subject to change. The time between application and the trip, plus the length of the trip itself, can result in vastly inflated fees: meaning travellers are advised to apply well in advance.