Americans are often overheard moaning about the problems their passports cause them; not just because these gold-embossed blue booklets carry with them a lifelong tax obligation to the US, but also because certain countries have on occasion been off limits to American citizens, such as Cuba, although those restrictions have been relaxed somewhat.
Now, a United Arab Emirates company that specialises in advising people on residency and citizenship matters has just published what it says is a definitive league table of the “world’s most valuable passports”, and awarded the top prize to… Germany’s distinctive red Reisepass (pictured).
The Singaporean passport comes in second, while the UAE’s passport, in 28th place, is considered the “most valuable” in the GCC.
Arton Capital is the company behind the “Passport Index”, which it has published every year since 2015.
It ranks the major passports of the world by such variables as the cross-border access they bring; a “visa-free score” – based on the number of countries a passport holder can visit visa-free, or by obtaining a visa upon their arrival – is also taken into account, according to Arton Capital chief executive John Hanafin.
According to the company, its ranking is the only “real time” global ranking of the world’s passports, in addition to offering what it says is the only “interactive tool” that allows users of its website, www.passportindex.org, to sort the world’s passports in various ways.
A recently added function enables a user of the facility to see which additional passport, or two, might improve their personal “Global Mobility Score”.
Two passport league tables
Arton Capital produces two main indexes of passports: A “Top 10 Passport Power Ranking”, which ranks passports by the category of powerfulness they occupy, relative to others; and an “Individual Passport Power Ranking”, based on the power each specific passport confers to its bearer.
“No two passports are alike, hence they can not share the same rank,” Hanafin says, explaining the reasoning behind the second list. It takes into consideration the unique qualities of each country as represented in the UN’s Human Development Index.
Hanafin notes that having a second citizenship “has never been more relevant” in history than it is now, as people looking for the chance to improve their lives and in some cases, personal security, inspires them to look abroad.
What’s more, the concept of “citizenship by investment” has become a US$2bn industry, Arton Capital says, with more than 20,000 investors seeking a second residency or citizenship every year.
Changes since last year
Although the Passport Index is still relatively new, visitors to passportindex.org will, according to its compilers, see some changes since last year’s ranking.The Marshall Islands, for example, has added 35 countries to its “visa-free” score, making it the biggest gainer over the year; Palau, in Micronesia, was the second-biggest gainer, adding 34 additional countries to its visa-free total, while the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu each added 33. Peru was the biggest winner in South America, with additional 31 countries.
The lowest-scoring MENA countries, based on their passports, according to this year’s Passport Index data, are war-thorn Iraq and Syria, while the world’s least-desirable passport goes again to Afghanistan, with a score of just 23.
Pakistan (26), Sri Lanka (35), and India (46) highlight the continued lack of access for those who hold South Asian passports.
Below are the two main Passport Index rankings:
New Top 10 Passport Power Ranking*
1. 157 – Germany
2. 156 – Singapore, Sweden
3. 155 – Denmark, Finland, France, Spain, Switzerland, Norway, UK, USA
4. 154 – Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Luxembourg, Portugal, Japan
5. 153 – Malaysia, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand
6. 152 – Greece, South Korea, Australia
7. 151 – Czech Republic, Iceland
8. 150 – Hungary
9. 149 – Malta, Poland
10. 148 – Slovenia, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia
* The number represents the number of countries with which passport holders from the named country are able to travel to without needing to get a visa.
New Top 10 Individual Passport Power Ranking:
10. United Kingdom
To visit the Passport Index website, click here.
To see the various passports ranked in order, click here.
To view a chart on the website that compares the passports based on their historical ranking, click here.