Henley & Partners bares how to make PHL passport more powerful

By on March 10, 2016


MANILA—Henley & Partners, the global leader in residence and citizenship planning, has released its annual Visa Restrictions Index, ranking the Philippine passport 76th best in the world.

The Visa Restrictions Index is a global ranking of countries according to the travel freedom that their citizens enjoy. The index is produced in cooperation with the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which maintains the world’s largest database of travel information, and is published annually.

In the 2016 index, the Philippine passport ranks 76th overall, providing access to 61 countries visa-free out of a possible 218.

“While this may seem as if the Asian nation has poor global mobility, a Philippine citizen can increase his position simply by acquiring dual citizenship,” said Dr. Juerg Steffen, managing partner at Henley & Partners Singapore office.

One route to obtaining dual citizenship is through a citizenship-by-investment program.

Antigua and Barbuda, which runs the most successful citizenship-by-investment program in the Caribbean, provides visa-free travel to 134 countries around the world and is thus an appealing location for investors.

“A Philippine citizen interested in obtaining dual citizenship with Antigua and Barbuda, would add 87 new countries in which they could travel to visa-free. This means that by having both Philippine and Antigua and Barbuda passports, one could travel to a total of 148 countries, ranking themselves 25th on the Index,” Steffen said.

“This combined passport will provide access to countries previously hampered by lengthy and costly visa application processes, including most European countries and Canada,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Malta Individual Investor Programme (MIIP) is the most interesting and advanced citizenship-by-investment program in the world, and was designed and implemented by Henley & Partners in close cooperation with the Government of Malta.

The archipelago holds the 9th most powerful passport in the world, with visa-free access to 168 countries.

Dual citizenship with Malta would increase ranking to 3rd on the Index – increasing by 73 places – and adding a massive 114 countries to existing Philippine visa-free travel list to give a new total of 179 countries if carrying both passports.

The combined passport would be equivalent to that of several European countries, including the United Kingdom’s, and will be stronger than that of the United States, Canada, Cyprus, and Austria, among others. It would also have just two countries less than Germany, which ranked 1st on the Index with visa-free access to 177 countries.

“While a Philippine-Antiguan passport does not have visa-free access to as many countries as a Philippine-Maltese passport provides access to, both passports are extremely good travel documents, offering access to any of the 28 EU member states as well as the UK, the US and Canada,” said Steffen.