Maltese passport steps up on Henley’s strength index

(source: Unsplash/Adolfo Félix)

Last Updated on Thursday, 28 March, 2019 at 10:30 am by Christian Keszthelyi

Malta currently ranks 8th globally on Henley & Partners’ Passport Index, having climbed one place up from Henley’s previous announcement of the results earlier this year. The result means that a total of 182 destinations are available for visa-free access to individuals possessing a Maltese passport.

Having a citizenship-by-investment (CBI) programme significantly boosts the overall passport strength of a country, according to Henley & Partners. Earlier this year, Malta ranked 9th globally on the index, when the number of destinations was similarly 182.

“Malta currently sits in the 8th spot, ahead of Australia, Iceland, and New Zealand. Montenegro — due to launching its citizenship-by-investment (CBI) programme soon — has climbed 19 places since 2009 to the 43rd spot with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 143. Moldova has jumped 21 places over the past decade and is now in the 45th spot on the index with [passport] holders able to travel to 121 global destinations visa-free,” a press statement by Henley says.

Additionally, Asia sees growing power and influence globally, with Japan, Singapore, and South Korea now holding the joint top spot on the passport index, with a visa-free or visa-on-arrival score of 189 destinations, the company finds.

“Investment migration programmes help strengthen and diversify the economies of sovereign states, enabling governments to drive capital into domestic development projects, create new employment opportunities, encourage further investment, and improve the lives of citizens. For investors, the travel mobility afforded by a second passport is unmatched, and the opportunities it provides are unparalleled,” says Dr Juerg Steffen, CEO of Henley & Partners.

Citizenship by investment schemes

Malta launched its Individual Investor Programme (IIP) at the beginning of 2014, which is a citizenship-by-investment programme. “Successful candidates will be granted citizenship in Malta by a Certificate of Naturalisation, which can also be extended to include their families,” the official website of Malta Immigration says. Those who receive citizenship can set up businesses in Malta and have the right of establishment in all European Union countries and Switzerland.

Up to the date of publication, the IIP has received more than 1,000 Malta passport applications on behalf of investors from more than 40 different countries, and submission is open.

However, lately, controversy has arisen related to investment by citizenship schemes in the European Commission, in general in the European Union. In January, Věra Jourová, the European Commissioner for Justice said that “the European Commission does not endorse the cash-for-passports scheme”, in reaction to Nationalist Party MEP Roberta Metsola’s question criticising such programmes, the MaltaToday reported.

Beyond Malta, some other EU countries also offer similar schemes, including Cyprus, Austria, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Portugal.

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