*This post have been translated with www.DeepL.com
For 16 years the Henley Passport Index (by Henley & Partners) has been ranking all passports worldwide according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a visa.
The index is updated quarterly and its content is based on data provided by IATA, the International Air Transport Authority (the world’s largest and most accurate travel information database) and is supplemented, enhanced and updated using extensive in-house research and open source online data. The index includes 199 different passports and 227 different travel destinations.
Not all passports are of equal value. While some open the doors to virtually any country in the 195 countries that make up the planet, others allow you to visit only a few dozen of them. This is the case of Japan, the country with the most powerful passport in the world, and Afghanistan, which has the most powerful passport in the world.
According to the index, those with a Japanese passport can enter 191 of the 195 countries recognised by the UN without any problem. As of today, the United Nations recognises 193 countries plus the Vatican State and Palestine, which are considered permanent observers of the UN even though they do not belong to it.
Second place goes to Singapore’s passport (190), which drops one position from last year, when it tied with Japan at the top. Meanwhile, South Korea and Germany share third place thanks to a passport that allows easy entry to a total of 189 nations around the world.
Then Spain (which moves up to fourth place), Italy, Finland and Luxembourg 4 give visa-free access to 188 countries.
THE MOST POWERFUL PASSPORTS
At the other end of the scale, countries such as Afghanistan only allow visa-free access to 26 countries. On the other hand, the Henley index also highlights other nations such as Iraq (28), Syria (29), Somalia and Pakistan (32), Yemen (33) and Libya (37). Meanwhile, North Korea’s passport is ranked 100th, as it opens the doors to 39 countries.
The Henley & Partners ranking is, to some extent, a detailed picture of freedom of travel according to citizenship and shows that not all passports are worth the same. While for some, a passport is a gateway to the world, for others it is a barrier to the freedom of travel they seek.
With enough money one can add citizenship (and a corresponding passport) to one’s birthright through residency and citizenship by investment programmes that allow nations to grant residency or citizenship rights to individuals in exchange for a substantial investment.
Citizenship by investment refers to the process by which candidates are granted full citizenship in exchange for their substantial economic contribution to the passport-issuing state.
Residency by investment refers to a similar process, but applicants in this case are granted temporary residency, which may extend to permanent residency or, in some cases, citizenship at a later stage.
For individuals, the key benefits of having an alternative passport include greater travel mobility, access to global business and educational opportunities, ease of asset diversification and enhanced security in a rapidly changing world.
Residency and citizenship by investment programmes currently exist in almost 100 countries around the world, including 60% of EU member states.
The most successful and credible countries in the residency and citizenship categories are listed below.
Antigua and Barbuda offers one of the most competitive citizenship programmes in the Caribbean. Options start from USD 100,000 and Antigua and Barbuda citizens have visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 151 destinations, including major business and lifestyle destinations.
Austria has one of the strongest passports in the world providing holders with visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 187 destinations worldwide, along with settlement rights in all EU member states. Options for Austrian citizenship start with a minimum contribution of 3 million euros.
Dominica offers an attractive citizenship programme with a real estate option. Required contributions start at USD 100.00 and citizens gain visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 141 destinations worldwide.
The Island of Grenada has the only Caribbean citizenship programme that offers successful applicants visa-free access to China. With options starting at USD 150,000, Grenada’s Citizenship by Investment Programme offers a great balance between the benefits it provides and the financial contribution required.
Malta’s grant of citizenship for exceptional services through the Direct Investment Regulations allows for the granting of citizenship through a certificate of naturalisation to foreign persons and their families who contribute to the economic development of the country.
Montenegro’s Citizenship by Investment Programme offers enhanced global mobility with visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 124 destinations, including Schengen Area countries in Europe, as well as Russia and the United Arab Emirates. A minimum contribution of EUR 350,000 is required.
St. Kitts and Nevis has one of the strongest passports among all Caribbean citizenship programmes. For a minimum donation of USD 150,000, the St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Programme provides visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 156 destinations.
St. Lucia’s Citizenship by Investment Programme offers increased mobility and global opportunities by providing visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 146 destinations worldwide. For a grant of USD 100,000, applicants can acquire their passports in as little as three to four months.
The Turkish Citizenship by Investment Programme offers citizenship of a country with links to Asia and Europe that has access to markets in both regions. The Turkish passport provides visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 110 destinations worldwide. For a real estate investment of USD 250,000, passports can be acquired in six to nine months.