Most people only look at their passport a couple of times a year if that, and only when they need it to go on holiday abroad. Most have no idea of passport rankings, visa-free access and how that cardboard document that cost them peanuts would be worth millions to someone else.
If you are in the citizenship industry you are only too aware of the significance of passport rankings, and how important visa-free access is. More than anything, you really get to appreciate that little document that you take for granted, especially when you know how far some, less fortunate people would go to own one just like it.
What Are Passport Rankings?
Passport rankings are a set of rankings that are produced each year and are used to rank the world’s passports in terms of their “power”, from the most powerful to the least. The most powerful passport of that particular year is ranked no.1, the second most powerful is ranked no.2, and so on.
These rankings are no different from the ATP tennis rankings of the World Golf Rankings. In those rankings, players are ranked by how many tournaments they have won in a 12 month period. In passport rankings, passports are ranked by how much visa-free access each country has in January, and where they place is their ranking for that year.
In January 2020, Japan were the highest ranked country in the world, with visa-free access to 191 countries. It was the third straight year Japan were in the top spot. Between 2015-2017 Germany topped the world rankings, and in 2014 it was Finland that had the world’s most powerful passport.
What Does Visa-Free Access Mean
The all-important currency that determines whether a passport is world class or worth-less is “Visa-Free Access.” It doesn’t take a great detective mind to determine that visa-free access means just what it says: Access to a country without the need of a visa.
The greatest thing for a tourist is being able to travel to a country with only their passport, and not have to worry about visas. Each year, millions of us suddenly discover that we cannot enter a country because we do not have the necessary visa. The majority of those who make that mistake are youngsters keen to travel but not so keen to do their homework when they go backpacking to the former Soviet Union or South East Asia.
If you were born in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Western Europe, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia or Singapore, your passport has visa-free access to most nations worth visiting on the planet. 2020’s no.1 ranked Japan has visa-free access to 191 countries, and that will include all of the nations mentioned in this paragraph, plus all of Central and South America, much of Africa, and China.
Which Passports Rank High And Why
The passports of the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Western Europe, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia or Singapore all have a high ranking, with a visa-free access to more than 180 countries. The main reason why some passports rank much higher than others is simple: nations view them as a friendly country.
If a nation such as Austria goes about its business as politely yet professionally as possible, and develops great working relationships with all of the countries it has dealings with, when their citizens visit those countries, they will be welcomed with open arms. Even nations that have no dealings with Austria will be aware of their great reputation, and therefore welcome Austrian tourists also, with one eye focused on a future trade relationship.
The Austrian passport is ranked 5th in the 2020 passport rankings, with visa-free access to 187 countries.
Why Do Some Passports Rank Low
It is a sad state of affairs when countries with so much to offer the world are severely limited by who they can trade with because of the actions of their leaders. A prime example of that would be Iran, a huge country of 83 million people. Much of Iran’s population are highly educated, and the younger generation in particular crave a more secular, Western existence for their country, and yet they have been ruled by a succession of Islamic extremists since the fall of the Shah in 1979.
Because of this, Iran’s continued threats of war toward Saudi Arabia and Israel, and their stated support of terrorist groups, few nations in the free world welcome Iranian citizens when they visit. Instead, along with their passport they will need to bring a pre-applied for visa, and even then they may have to have a formal interview as to the intentions of their visit.
The Iranian passport is ranked 98th in the 2020 passport rankings, with visa-free access to just 41 countries.
Can A Person Change Their Passport?
Being hamstrung by their nationality is the main reason why many ambitious, highly talented entrepreneurs from the Middle East as well as Africa and Asia seek out the citizenship and passport to a second, more popular, friendly country. These individuals grow up seeing their country’s leaders waging a kind of “cold war” with the free world, and then later, when they wish to visit these countries, they find themselves “tarred with the same brush” as extremists, even though they are as capitalist as any American or European businessperson.
Citizenship By Investment
Luckily, thanks to a process known as citizenship by investment (CBI) these people need not spend the rest of their lives suffering because of the sins of others. Several countries in the European Union have citizenship by investment programs, and for as little as €50,000 – the price of a mid-range Mercedes Benz – an ambitious entrepreneur from Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Algeria or Pakistan can suddenly have the same visa-free access to the free world as their counterparts from Italy, France and Germany do.
The process of citizenship by investment is 100% legal, and the donor country will carry out a stringent background check on the applicant before embarking on the program. The applicant is required to make a financial investment, which can range from a charitable donation to a real estate purchase, to guaranteeing the employment of several local citizens.
Prices for CBI vary from €50,000 for citizenship and passport to the EU member state of Slovenia, to a €10 million long-term business investment to secure the passport and citizenship of Austria.
Citizenship By Investment Programs
|Austria Citizenship Program||€250,000|
|Belgium Citizenship Program||€200,000|
|Bulgaria Citizenship Program||€65,000|
|Croatia Citizenship Program||€175,000|
|Czech Republic Citizenship Program||€200,000|
|France Citizenship Program||€200,000|
|Hungary Citizenship Program||€200,000|
|Italy Citizenship Program||€190,000|
|Mexico Citizenship Program||€120,000|
|Holland Citizenship Program||€175,000|
|Poland Citizenship Program||€175,000|
|Slovakia Citizenship Program||€52,000|
|Slovenia Citizenship Program||€50,000|
|Spain Citizenship Program||€200,000|
|Turkey Citizenship Program||€75,000|