These are the strongest passports in the world right now – and how South Africa compares

Boutique tax and immigration consultancy Nomad Capitalist has published its passport index for 2020, highlighting the strongest passports in the world right now.

The index is the result of aggregating data from nearly twenty unique sources, and based on priorities Nomad Capitalist believes are important to citizens and potential citizens of each given country.

The five most important factors are:

  • Visa-free travel – 50%;
  • Taxation of citizens – 20%;
  • Perception – 10%;
  • Dual citizenship – 10%;
  • Personal freedom – 10%.

Based on these factors Sweden, Luxembourg and Ireland were named as having the joint-best passports in the world. Belgium and Finland round up the top five.

Ranking Country Region Total score
1st Sweden Europe 114
1st Luxembourg Europe 114
1st Ireland Europe 114
4th Switzerland Europe 113.5
4th Belgium Europe 113.5
6th Finland Europe 113
6th Portugal Europe 113
8th Singapore Asia 112
8th Czech Republic Europe 112
8th Malta Europe 112

South Africa is tied 99th in the ranking, alongside the tiny island country of Nauru.

While South Africa’s passport was ranked highly due to the fact that holders can travel to 101 countries visa-free, its strict tax regime and lower government freedoms, drag its ranking down.

Ranking Country Region Total score
96th Belize Central America 68.5
97th Kuwait Middle-East 64.5
98th Qatar Middle-East 62.5
99th Nauru Oceania 60.5
99th South Africa Africa 60.5
101st Botswana Africa 59.5
102nd Fiji Oceania 59
103rd Timor-Leste Asia 58.5
104th Maldives Asia 57.5
104th Oman Middle-East 57.5

Visa-free travel

The index shows that South Africa ranked relatively highly on the index when it comes visa-free/visa-on-arrival, with access to 101 destinations.

The newly gained visa-free destination is Nigeria, which increased its accessibility to foreign visitors with the February 2020 launch of its Nigeria Visa Policy 2020.

Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, chairman of travel advisory firm Henley & Partners and the inventor of the passport index concept, points out that in an unprecedented global health emergency such as this, relative passport strength becomes temporarily meaningless.

“This is, of course, something that citizens of countries with weak passports in the lower ranks of the index are all too familiar with.

“As public health concerns and security rightfully take precedence over all else now, even within the otherwise borderless EU, this is an opportunity to reflect on what freedom of movement and citizenship essentially mean for those of us who have perhaps taken them for granted in the past,” he said.


Read: South African business leaders at odds with ANC about controversial plan to revive economy

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These are the strongest passports in the world right now – and how South Africa compares