No visa necessary. British passport welcomed in 173 countries

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Who knew? It seems a British passport still ensures free passage in a surprisingly large amount of the world. Recently-published figures confirm that Britons can visit 173 countries in the world without recourse to a visa, a figure matched only by the friendly Scandinavians of Finland and Sweden.

Residency and citizenship consultants Henley & Partners compiled the survey. EU countries dominate the top ten with Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, Italy and the Netherlands all featuring, while the USA, Canada, Japan and New Zealand are the only non-European countries in the top 20.

Britain's recent crackdown on immigration and overseas visas has not yet caused a reciprocal imposition of visa requirements. A Henley & Partners spokesperson told the Mail: "Visa restrictions are an important tool for governments to control the movement of foreign nationals 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."

So, the world loves us and Britain, along with the swinging Swedes and fun-loving Finns are right at the top of the world's respect league? That might be pushing it. Britons' relative freedom of movement owes a lot to the UK's membership of two major international groupings, the EU (see, Nigel Farage, it's not all bad) and the Commonwealth. The special relationship with the USA allows visa waivers for British travellers, even if they then have to wait three hours to get through immigration at JFK trying to answer the question "waddaya here for buddy?"

The notable exceptions for UK visitors happen to be two of the world's fastest-growing economies, India and China. Simon Calder in the Independent reports that visa costs for those countries are approaching £100, which he suggests is closer to a tax on being British than a reflection of the administration costs.

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