BEIRUT: In the Henley Passport Index for 2018, Germany topped the list for the fifth year running, with its citizens enjoying visa-free access to 177 countries in total.
Lebanon remains at 96th, along with Bangladesh, Iran, and Kosovo, who each respectively have no visa requirements for entering 38 countries.
The island city-state of Singapore ranks 2nd globally on the 2018 edition of the index, with visa-free access to 176 countries, while eight countries — Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Japan, Norway, Sweden, and the UK — share 3rd place, offering passport-holders access to 175 countries.
Ranking jointly at 4th place on the index, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Spain all provide visa-free access to 174 countries.
Dr. Christian H. Kälin, Group Chairman of Henley & Partners, says the need for visa-free access is greater than ever. “Across the economic spectrum, individuals want to transcend the constraints imposed on them by their country of origin and access business, financial, career, and lifestyle opportunities on a global scale.."
He added: "The Henley Passport Index shows individuals where they lie on the spectrum of global mobility, revealing the strength that their passport has in relation to other passports."
An authoritative passport index, with historical data spanning 13 years, the global ranking is based on data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which maintains the world’s largest database of travel information. The index is enhanced by extensive in-house research.
The US is among the countries holding 5th place on the 2018 edition of the index, improving its visa-free score from 172 in 2017 to 173 in 2018.
The Russian Federation, meanwhile, climbed three places to 48th position. China has shown the most growth in North Asia over the past year, moving up 10 places compared to 2017 and now ranking 75th globally.
For the second year in a row, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan sit at the bottom of the Henley Passport Index, each able to access 30 or fewer countries visa-free.
According to Henley, Investment migration is the most direct route to improved mobility.
The firm also noted that an increasing number of governments are embracing residence and citizenship-by-investment programs as a means of stimulating economic development and growth. In addition to the increased number of wealthy and talented individuals that are looking to diversify their citizenship portfolios to give themselves and their families greater international opportunity, travel freedom, stability, and security.
Kälin points out that the countries that offer the most credible citizenship-by-investment programs in the world consistently perform strongly on the Henley Passport Index.
“Malta, for example, offers the top-ranked investment migration program globally, and the country also scores very highly on the index, holding the world’s 9th most powerful passport and offering visa-free access to 169 countries,” he says. “Austria also makes it into the top 10, with access to a total of 174 countries.”
Henley & Partners provides residence and citizenship planning. Each year, hundreds of wealthy individuals and their advisers rely on their expertise and experience in this area. The firm’s highly qualified professionals work together as one team in over 30 offices worldwide.
The firm also runs a leading government advisory practice that has raised more than $6 billion in foreign direct investment. The firm has been involved in strategic consulting and in the design, set-up, and operation of the world’s most successful residence and citizenship programs.
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