The Maltese passport is recognised as the eighth most powerful in the world, according to the latest edition of the Henley Passport Index, which ranks passports by the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa.
Malta’s passport entitles holders to visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 185 countries.
Over the last four years, Malta has consistently been ranked seventh or eighth, and has been in the top 10 for years, with 2010’s tenth place marking its lowest score.
Despite obtaining the same score as last year, Malta’s passport was pushed down by one place as Japan, previously joint first with Singapore and South Korea with access to 192 destinations without a prior visa, added another, retaining the top spot on its own and pushing every other passport a sport lower.
Germany and Spain are in joint third place, followed by Italy, Luxembourg and Finland in fourth.
Ranking eighth along with Malta are Australia, Canada, Czech Republic and Greece.
Afghanistan’s is the least powerful passport in the world, with access to only 27 destinations without a prior visa. Fellow war-torn countries Iraq (29 destinations) and Syria (30) round out the bottom three.
The index is compiled using information from the International Air Transport Authority (IATA) by Henley and Partners, the investment migration consultancy firm that has been instrumental in nurturing the global cash-for-passports industry by partnering with governments of resource-poor states like St Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, and Malta.
The incoming Labour administration granted Henley and Partners a 10-year contract to market and process applications for the Malta’s citizenship-by-investment scheme, entitling it to earn four per cent of every contribution fee paid by successful citizenship applicants.
This contract was rescinded when the original Individual Investor Programme was brought to an early end following increasing pressure from the European Union which perceived the scheme as a “back door” into Europe.
Malta now operates the Exceptional Investor Programme, a reworked citizenship-by-investment programme with enhanced residency requirements. The European Commission has also taken issue with this scheme, and in April officially launched infringement proceedings against Malta. The Maltese Government has defended the programme, stating that citizenship is a national competence.
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