The Most Powerful Passports in the World: How To Measure Them?

For the most part, the most powerful passports have been ranked on their mobility score – in essence, how many countries or territories you can get visa-free access to, with a certain passport. Global Citizen Solutions have adopted a novel, pioneering approach that goes beyond considering only mobility. In an increasingly globalized world, many people are looking for dual citizenship options or seeking to move to another country. For this, considering the investment and business opportunities, alongside the country’s quality of life are both fundamental aspects to the strength of a passport. So how to measure the most powerful passports, in a way that incorporates these three indicators?

Discover the world's best passports in 2021 on the Global Passport Index

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Global Passport Index: Methodology

While previous passport ranking tools have focused only on mobility, we believe that investment potential and quality of life are both decisive factors in determining the strength of a passport.

Global Citizen Solutions developed a new methodology to measure the overall attractiveness of a country for relocation, investment, or dual citizenship purposes. We collaborated with scholars who worked with UNESCO, who analyzed quantitative data from international institutions, including the World Bank, World Economic Forum, and the Sustainable Development Report.

How to measure a strong passport: The variables to determine the most powerful passports.  

To demonstrate how we went about collecting the data, here we present you with an overview of our methodology, including the various weights of the indices, that we used when determining which are the most powerful passports.

Enhanced Mobility Index

The Enhanced Mobility Index carries the most weight, accounting for 50% of the overall score. This goes beyond simply counting the number of countries or territories that the passport provides immediate access to, ranking instead from restricted travel, through to visa on arrival and unlimited visa-free access. The “desirability of countries” is also included here, based on the quality of life score.

Investment Index

The Investment Index, which is worth 25% of the Global Passport Index score, is based on global competitiveness (also referred to as market innovation) (weighted at 50% of the Investment Index score), gross national income per capita (GNI), and personal income (weighted at 25% each). Six pillars of the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index were selected – financial system, market size, business dynamism, product market, labor market, and innovation capability. To understand a country’s economic strength, GNI was used, expressed in US dollars, and converted using purchasing power parities (PPP), provided by the World Bank. Finally, personal taxation levels were collected from multiple sources and refers to the highest personal income tax bracket on a national level.

Quality of Life Index

The Quality of Life Index factors in six indicators: sustainable development (weighted at 30% of the quality of life score) taken from The Sustainable Development (SDG) Index, the cost of living (weighted at 20%) taken from the Cost of Living Index, the protection of personal freedom (weighted at 20%) taken from the Freedom of the World Index (FIW), the “happiness” of the citizens (weighted at 10%) from the World Happiness Report, environmental performance (weighted at 10%) taken from the Environmental Performance Index (EPI), and migrant acceptance (weighted at 10%) from Gallup’s Migrant Acceptance Index.

An in-depth methodology of our approach can be seen here.

How to measure the most powerful passports: Their different strengths

With these three indicators, we believe that it’s possible to determine the true strength of a passport. Our approach allows you to view the separate indicators, depending on your interests and what you are looking for.

Our Global Passport Index also allows you to compare countries for access, investments, and quality of life factors, so that you can easily see where one country performs well, but does not rank so highly in another area. This is particularly useful if you are interested in investing in or moving to a county and have two options in mind. Our comparison feature allows you to easily compare the two.

Expand your horizons: Travel with the right passport

Our Enhanced Mobility Index goes a step further than traditional passport ranking systems. We sought to take into account quality of life traits into our Enhanced Mobility Index to see the most powerful passports.

This is because the two go hand in hand – if a country is attractive to live in, it should also be deemed as a ‘desirable’ destination to travel to. For example, visa-free travel to a country that has a high standard of living is given one entire point in the system, while the same visa-free access provides only ⅓ of a point if the country is politically unstable.

The smart investment: Financial security

In this increasingly globalized and interconnected world, knowing where to put your money is important. Investors looking to invest are in a better position if they can easily compare the investment potential of a country and how easy it is to do business there – something that was an important consideration in creating the Investment Index.

Alongside this, with dual citizenship now increasingly popular and many countries embracing residency-by-investment schemes, it is important to know which countries rank higher on a specified Investment Index.

Where you a welcomed – an expats dream

There are many reasons why an expat may choose to move to a country, whether it’s a particular attachment to a country, a partner, or a job opportunity. However, the cost of living is clearly an important factor for living in a country permanently. A country’s freedom of speech, sustainable development and environmental factors, and, perhaps most important, the happiness of the country’s citizens are also fundamental considerations. In addition to this, a country’s migrant acceptance level is an indicator as to whether expats are likely to feel welcomed. This is why we incorporated each of these elements into our Quality of Life Index, to determine the most welcoming country.

For example, expats looking to move to another country are able to look into the quality of life in a country, including specific variables, such as the “Happiness” level or cost of living, and even compare counties based on these fields.

The Quality of Life Index is particularly relevant at present. The COVID-19 pandemic has created a shift in our approach to work. With remote work increasingly available to us, and more people than ever looking for a digital nomad lifestyle, it is possible to work from anywhere in the world. The Quality of Life Index provides you with an overview of which countries offer the best quality of life.

You are also able to compare different countries, say Portugal and Spain, to determine which country is better suited to you (e.g. more affordable, ‘happier’ citizens, etc.).

How to measure a strong passport - a multidimensional approach

How to measure a strong passport - a multidimensional approach

Moving past world passport indexes that are solely focused on mobility, our Global Passport Index provides a multidimensional approach that allows you to filter based on what you are looking for, whether that is visa-free travel, investment potential, or quality of life.

Indeed, if you are focused on only one country, you are also able to see an individual passport’s power rank, on our specific country pages, to provide a full picture overview of a country. For example, you can view South Korea’s page, the United States, or the perks of a Swedish passport. You can flick through 199 country (or city-state) pages in total.

All the world’s passports perform stronger in a certain category. For example, Singapore ranked first in the Enhanced Mobility Index and in the Investment Index, but, because of its poor performance in the Quality of Life Index, it only ranked 15th overall. The United States secures the top spot of the Global Passport Index because of its consistency over the three indicators (10th in the Enhanced Mobility Index, 4th in the Investment Index, and 23rd in the Quality of Life Index).

The true value of our Global Citizen Solution’s approach in how to measure a strong passport is that we enable you to see how the world’s passports perform across different indicators. Ease of navigation is readily available so that the reader can easily find the information that they need to determine the true value of a passport.

Discover the world's best passports in 2021 on the Global Passport Index

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