The Most Powerful Passports in the World

Arton Capital has devised an interactive tool to rank global passports

In a world that has ever-changing political and economic circumstances and uncertainty, flexibility and adaptability can be taken for granted by some. To move freely within the European Union or to travel visa-free to hundreds of locations might seem like a given for many but to others this is something they might think they can only dream of. To be allowed to enter a country visa-free is not determined on beliefs or morals but on what piece of paper you hold in your hand. Your passport.

Your passport is one of the most important documents in your life but to some, it reduces the opportunities for themselves and their families at better education, careers and standard of living. So how do you know if your passport helps or hinders you and what can be done to allow yourself and your family flexibility to travel freely?

Financial advisory firm Arton Capital created the Passport Index that allows you to sort passports for countries around the world by a “passport power rank”. Using an interactive tool, users can discover the world’s passports on a map by country name, power rank and even by the colour of their covers. The ranking is based on points accumulated for each country that the passport holder can travel visa-free. The country list is based on the 193 UN member countries and six territories, totalling 199 locations.

“Working in an industry that is so sensitive to origin and nationality, we wanted to display the diversity, the beauty and the power of world’s passports while providing truly important information on the power of passports,” explains Armand Arton, president and chief executive of Arton Capital.

The ranking puts the US and UK first, passports which give access to 147 countries without an advanced visa (travelling visa-free). In second place are France, Germany and South Korea and the least desirable passports to hold, according to the ranking, are the passports of the Solomon Islands, Myanmar (Burma), South Sudan, Sao Tome and Principe. In the Middle East, the UAE is currently ranked in 31st place with access to 104 countries visa-free. (The UAE is the first Arab country to be entitled to enter schengen without an advanced visa and to be extended this right from the European bloc.)

Qatar follows in 52nd place while Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are both ranked at 57th in the list.

The index allows users to assess their rank and if it does not favour their circumstances, explore dual citizenship in a country which grants more freedom or is more “powerful”, says Arton.

“We are seeing a growing trend from less desirable passport holders researching the benefits of citizenship-by-investment programmes, meaning investing in a nation and adding value to its economy, with the overall outcome of becoming a citizen and holding a passport from the country,” he says.

Citizenship-by-investment programmes have become increasingly popular among governments as a way of attracting foreign investment into struggling economies, including the US and UK, but are also available from smaller Caribbean nations, offering key benefits to their passport holders. Dominica, for example, an island which was once a British colony, allows visa-free travel to the UK. Countries such as Hungary, Bulgaria, Cyprus and the UK also give their passport holders almost unrestricted access into Europe – a tempting benefit for those who might struggle otherwise to access the continent.

We are seeing a growing trend from less desirable passport holders researching the benefits of citizenship-by-investment programmes

Skeptics have labelled such programmes in the past little more than a trade in passports. However, Arton says that perception is wrong and ignores how global citizenship programmes can “improve lives, support national economies, generate investment, disperse wealth and increase employment opportunities”.

Arton adds no individual should be judged solely on a piece of paper but rather “what they can bring to a country, how they can add value and contribute – we facilitate this freedom.”