This passport index claims to be different – and ranks South Africa third in Africa

 ·22 Oct 2021

UK-based immigration consultancy firm Global Citizen Solutions has launched its Global Passport Index, a comprehensive tool that allows individuals to discover a passport’s true strength using a number of different metrics.

The index ranks global passports of 197 countries not just by visa-free access, but by building mobility, investment opportunity and quality of life. The ranking measures countries according to ease of travel for their holders, as well as investment opportunities available to them, and the quality of life provided by the specified countries.

The index comes out at a time when countries have begun to open up their borders again following the damaging consequences of the Covid pandemic on global travel for almost two years.

Patricia Casaburi, MD at Global Citizen Solutions, said: “From feedback obtained via years of experience working directly with our clients, we realised that what really mattered for them when looking at a second citizenship was not only mobility but also lifestyle and investment opportunities.

“It quickly became apparent that the time was right to develop a passport index that took these factors into account, making a relatable, real methodology for comparing countries and their attractiveness for real-life choices.”

While most indexes exclusively look at a passport’s travel privileges, that doesn’t tell the full story.

“We created a new methodology to determine a country’s allure for relocation, investment, or dual citizenship purposes. The result? Individuals can easily use our ranking system to discover a passport’s strength with three standalone indexes: Enhanced Global Mobility Index, Investment Index, and Quality of Life Index.”

Each index enables users to filter results for individual country rankings, using 11 different indicators originated by reputable sources including The World Bank, the World Economic Forum, and The Sustainable Development Report, and was put together in collaboration with senior analysts.

  • Best Passports for Mobility: The Enhanced Mobility Index is the first of the three dimensions of the Global Passport Index and the one carrying the most weight, responsible for 50% of the composite score.
  • Best Passports for Investment: The Economy Index, aims to provide a general assessment of an economy as an option for investment and other business decisions.
  • Best Passports for Quality of Life: Assessing the availability and cost of day-to-day amenities such as infrastructure, cost of living, personal and political freedom, environmental quality and attitudes towards foreigners.

According to the index, the United States has the most powerful passport in the world when taking into account the three individual indicators.

  • 10th in the Enhanced Mobility Index
  • 4th in the Investment Index
  • 23rd in the Quality of Life Index

The United States has long been a world leader, embracing innovation and technology. In terms of investment potential, the US performs very well as a country that has a large, diversified market and many funding options, coupled with tax benefits and a transparent legal system, said Global Citizen Solutions.

“Along with a strong performance in enhanced mobility, this places the United States in the prime position for having the most powerful passport in the world. Investment migration has become increasingly popular as a means of securing citizenship – gaining residency and/or citizenship through investment into the country. This is possible with the United States.”

Germany ranks second, with Canada third, while the Netherlands and Denmark round out the top five.


Across Africa, the most powerful passports are those of Mauritius, Seychelles, and South Africa. Ranked first and second overall in the continent, Mauritius and Seychelles score well on the Enhanced Mobility Index, but interestingly, South Africa still ranks third even though it carries a far lower score in the same index.

This is due to their passport holders being required to obtain a Schengen visa in order to enter any European country in the Schengen Zone, the immigration expert said.

“The finding explains the popularity of citizenship by investment programs in South Africa,” said Casaburi. “Our clients are looking not only for travel mobility but also lifestyle and financial stability too.”

South Africa is ranked 100th on the index.

In the African continent, the most powerful passports are:

  1. Mauritius
  2. Seychelles
  3. South Africa
  4. Botswana
  5. Tunisia
  6. Namibia
  7. Morocco
  8. Ghana
  9. Kenya
  10. Lesotho

What makes this Global Passport Index different from others?

It goes beyond the simple counting of visa-free access countries by valuing each destination that a passport gives enhanced access to. Moreover, it also gives partial credit to simplified procedures such as Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), on-arrival visas, and Electronic Visas, said Global Citizen Solutions.

“It covers several dimensions that might be impactful for those deciding to live abroad, be they retirees, expats, students, or those moving out of necessity. And finally, it provides three standalone indices that could cater to different interests.”

Read: More than 100 countries you can travel to visa-free on a South African passport, as lockdown restrictions ease

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