The Henley Passport Index, an annual ranking of passport power, was issued this week. And while Germany has retained its top spot for the fifth year in a row, Malta has moved up one spot since 2017, clinching ninth place.
A passport’s ‘power’ is determined by how many countries its holder can enter without a visa. For context, leaders Germany boast a list of 177 countries. Trailing in last place, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria give visa-free access to a mere 24, 27 and 28 countries respectively. Malta, on the other hand, is sitting towards the top of the list with 169 countries.
2018 marks an improvement from the previous year, which saw Malta just about make the top 10. The tiny Mediterranean island has been hovering around these positions ever since 2008, but the last decade came to an end with it being ranked 14th and 15th. As far as this particular ranking goes, Malta has had better years, coming in at seventh back in 2015.
Apart from ranking the world’s passports by visa-free access, the Henley Index’s report also includes a rank of countries with citizenship-by-investment programs. As far as this list goes, Malta’s 169 countries put it firmly in second place, just behind Austra (174) and Cyprus (159).
“As the world economy has become increasingly globalized, the need for greater visa-free access has grown steadily,” said the global citizenship and planning firm in its final report. “Wealthy individuals in particular are more cosmopolitan and transnational today than ever before, with roots, networks, assets, properties, and even citizenship spanning multiple countries. In many ways, global connectivity has become an indispensable feature of wealth creation and wealth preservation, and its value will only grow as regional volatility and instability increase.”
Henley’s Passport Index’s dedicate website also has an interactive section where one can compare passports or check which specific countries can be accessed by which passports.
In another section, the citizenship planning firm also compiled a list of 14 passports which, when combined, would grant the holder “visa-free access to the whole world.” The combination presented, which they say is only one of many, includes passports from the United States of America, Azerbaijan and North Korea.
Henley & Partners were contracted the controversial MIIP (Malta Individual Investor Programme) back in 2014 by the government. The citizenship-by-investment program, which the firm was asked to design and implement, has been described by Henley & Partners as the “most modern” of its kind.
Henley’s full report on its Global Passport Index for 2018 can be found here.