There used to be a time when having an American or British passport was considered the best for travel, but also for the other advantages conferred on its citizens. It’s been well-documented how much that has changed since the pandemic began (as well as the impact of Brexit on the declining power of a British passport) and how people have been searching for second passports, for increased security and freedom of movement.
In 2021, The Henley Passport Index listed Germany as the most powerful in Europe, giving access to 190 destinations around the world without a visa–one of the main definitions of powerful passports. In that recent listing, Japan and Singapore scored joint first place, with access to 192 destinations visa-free. The U.K. and the U.S. tied in seventh place with access to 185 destinations.
Seven years ago, the U.S. was in top place and has been consistently falling year on year, as judged by Henley. And during the pandemic, both countries were reduced temporarily to being able to access just 75 countries (U.S.) and fewer than 70 for the U.K. As seen through the recent EU travel ban on U.S. travelers, it is increasingly the case that an entire bloc of countries can close to American travelers overnight.
Global Citizens Solutions, an immigration consultancy, recently announced the release of its first-ever, Global Passport Index, which placed the U.S. in first place for 2022. The index also considered the investment opportunities and quality of life indicators of each nation, as well as the number of countries its citizens could enter without a visa.
Another key factor considered was the prospect of opening a business in another country, on which the U.S. scored highly. Patricia Casaburi, Managing Director of Global Citizen Solutions said of its high ranking that “the country offers many attractive visa solutions for expats looking to invest in America, such as the EB5 Visa program and the E2 Visa program.” Casaburi also adds that “the U.S. Business Visa also allows citizens to spend 90 days in the country for business ventures.”
The top passports for 2022 as per Global Citizens Solutions are:
1. United States of America
4. The Netherlands
7. United Kingdom
10. New Zealand
Each country is ranked on a Mobility Index, an Investment Index, and a Quality of Life Index. Each index weighs 50% (Mobility) 25% (Investment) 25% (Quality of Life) and with a total score of 96,4, the U.S. ranked in first place.
There are other passport indexes, which calculate the power of passports based on other criteria; Arton Capital’s Passport Index considers 193 United Nations members and six territories — ROC Taiwan, Macau (SAR China), Hong Kong (SAR China), Kosovo, Palestinian Territory and the Vatican. Its 2021 index put Germany at the top.
Incidentally, Armand Arton, CEO of Arton Capital has been a strong advocate for placing medical information in existing passports, to help control the spread of disease, to flag immunization status, to enable the tracking and tracing of Covid-19 in real-time and allow for immediate restrictions. This approach would, of course, cause concern around issues of data protection and civil liberties.
Acquiring a second passport
There are a number of ways to gain a second passport to enable living in a different country–increasingly possible now that Covid-19 has disconnected some workers from specific geographical places (another option is to acquire a digital nomad visas from one of the many countries around the world who now offer them).
Sometimes, passports can be obtained through the original citizenship of grandparents or another way might be to fall in love with a native from another country (although this is increasingly difficult and Cape Verde is the only place that offers nationality immediately after marriage).
Many people are increasingly buying a second passport as a way into a country. Portugal’s Golden Residence Program is one such solution, where for a minimum contribution of €250,000 (around $297,000), people can freely live and work in Portugal, travel freely around Europe and apply for citizenship after 5 years. The final way is what Condé Nast calls the “old fashioned” way–to apply for citizenship after having lived in a country for a set period of time.