World’s best passports: Germany tops list, South Africa most valuable in Africa



Passport shopping is a popular pastime among South Africans eager to emigrate but without the ancestral proximity to claim European or British citizenship by filling in a form and paying for the application to be processed. Some South Africans acquire the right to live and work elsewhere by investing in businesses or property. For the right investment sum, many countries allow anyone to take on their passport. So, which passport do you want? And is the South African passport really so bad? John Hanafin, the CEO of a company that advises global citizens on how to navigate the world’s citizenship and immigration laws, shares the latest details on a passport index that his group regularly updates. Germany has the most prized passport, he says, with Singapore’s a close second. The South Africa passport is a nice one to have if you are travelling in Africa, but it’s less valuable when you have international aspirations. If you’re a globe trotter or want to join the ranks of the wealthy jurisdiction-hopping tax exiles, consider how you might acquire another passport – it could save you significant sums in visa fees and give you added benefits that come with citizenship in another country. – Jackie Cameron

From John Hanafin*

South Africa has the most valuable passport on the African Continent, while Germany takes the lead in the world with Singapore in second place.  

Arton Capital, the global advisory for residence and citizenship solutions, with a representative office in South Africa, has updated the Passport Index, the popular global ranking of the world’s passports.
German passport

The Index ranks national passports by the cross-border access they bring, assigning a “visa-free score” according to the number of countries a passport holder can visit visa-free or with visa on arrival.

Germany takes the lead with a visa-free score of 157. Singapore overtakes South Korea and becomes the highest ranked Asian passport, with a visa free score of 156, coming second.

South Africa is the leading country on the African continent, with a score of 90, which ranks South Africa 49th in the table, followed by Botswana with a score of 69, Lesotho with a score of 66 and Malawi with a score of 65. Whilst South Africa is ranked the most valuable passport in Africa it should be noted that its passport is less valuable than countries such as the Russian Federation and Albania.

Lowest-scoring African countries are Nigeria (41), Ethiopia (34) and Somalia, while the world’s least-desirable passport goes again to Afghanistan, with a score of just 23.  Pakistan (26) and Sri Lanka (35)

Visitors to passportindex.org can also see changes to the ranking of countries in 2016. Marshall Islands is on top of the winners’ list by adding 35 countries to its visa-free score. Palau, Micronesia, follow with 34 additional countries, while Solomon Islands and Tuvalu added 33. Peru is the biggest winner in South America with additional 31 countries.

The newly added World Openness Score (WOS) tracks the progression of freedom of mobility across the globe. The world openness score in 2016 was 17,925. In the first few days of 2017, the score has increased to 17,948. This trend shows opening of borders but will it continue? With the recent backlash against globalisation and ongoing immigration issues, the World Openness Score may be in danger of decline.

The comparison tool also has a newly added Improve function, which demonstrates how the addition of one or more passports to an existing travel document can improve the holder’s Global Mobility Score (GMS). For example, a Lebanese citizen has a GMS of 38. However, by adding a passport of Saint Lucia, their Global Mobility Score increases drastically to 123, which would represent the possibility of visa-free travel to over 61% of the countries we examine. For many people, this is priceless.

    According to Jacques Scherman, Vice President of Business Development at Arton Capital in South Africa, “Whilst the South African passport is the most valuable on the African continent it doesn’t perform well against most other countries around the world. As such, we are generating far more interest from South Africa; having a second citizenship has never been more relevant”.

In recent years, citizenship by investment has become a $2bn industry, with over 20,000 investors seeking a second residency or citizenship around the globe very year.

New Top 10 Passport Power Ranking:

    157 – Germany
    156 – Singapore, Sweden
    155 – Denmark, Finland, France, Spain, Switzerland, Norway, UK, USA
    154 – Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Luxembourg, Portugal, Japan
    153 – Malaysia, Ireland, Canada, New Zealand
    152 – Greece, South Korea, Australia
    151 – Czech Republic, Iceland
    150 – Hungary
    149 – Malta, Poland
    148 – Slovenia, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia

New Top 10 Individual Passport Power Ranking:

    Germany
    Singapore
    Sweden
    Denmark
    Finland
    France
    Spain
    Switzerland
    Norway
    United Kingdom

    John Hanafin is CEO, Arton Capital.
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