As if its blingy facade and sky-high structures weren't enough to captivate the world's attention, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) passport is now being touted as the most powerful in the world.
The UAE's passport has been deemed so by the Nomad Capitalist — an offshore consulting firm — in its annual list.
As per the firm, UAE — which has entered the top-ten list for the first time this year — jumped straight to number one from its place as the 35th passport last year.
The jump is largely a result of the recent changes which allow foreigners to apply for dual citizenship. Combined with the travel freedoms afforded by a UAE passport and the country’s business-friendly environment and enviable tax system, UAE tops the list for 2023.
Following UAE is the Luxembourg passport, which was at the top of the list for the past two years.
“This tiny but prosperous European Union (EU) member state offers its citizens high levels of freedom,” says Nomad. "It also boasts excellent passport perception. And fortunately for the expats living there, it recently became easier to naturalise as a citizen.”
Next on the list is Switzerland, which is one of the only three non-EU countries to make the top ten. Nomad stated: “Swiss citizens enjoy high levels of liberty and privacy. The country has risen from fifth to the third position this year.
“Moreover, the country’s famous neutrality ensures that Swiss nationals remain some of the most respected travellers around the world.”
The fourth passport on the list is that of Ireland. The country offers one of Europe’s lowest corporate tax rates, while its passport’s visa scores are among the highest.
Ireland’s “excellent reputation” makes travelling as an Irish citizen generally hassle-free, the Nomad said, adding that “while Ireland is not part of the European Schengen Area, it is a member of the Common Travel Area (CTA), which means free travel to, and the right to work in, the UK.”
Portugal has the fifth most powerful passport in the world since the country is open and friendly. “Portuguese citizens,” the Nomad said, “are also highly welcome around the world, enjoying visa-free travel to countries like South Africa that other European Union citizens don’t. Portugal also provides a warm welcome to expats, with high levels of English fluency plus a favorable tax exemption program.”
Number six on the list is the passport of Germany, which is a high-tech and heavily industrialised economy with a strong work ethic.
Often described as the “engine of Europe,” Germany is the largest economy in the EU and the world’s fourth-largest economy overall, the consulting firm said.
“It’s also Europe’s most populous country. As a result, German passports bestow a high degree of travel freedom, though the tradeoff comes in the form of higher taxes than many of its European neighbors, though thankfully leaving the German tax system is relatively straightforward.”
The passport of the Czech Republic, which has been featured in the top 10 for four years in a row, ranks at number seven this year. “The Czech Republic is a popular expat destination with a rich culture. Located in the centre of Europe, the nation joined the EU in 2004.
“Czech passport holders, therefore, enjoy a high degree of travel freedom. Plus, with proper structuring in place, you can also enjoy a considerable degree of tax freedom too.”
Following the Czech Republic, is a newcomer to the top-ten list — New Zealand, where a warm climate, easy-going nature and cinematic landscapes help ensure the country’s as popular with expats as ever.
“Although the country imposed strict lockdowns during the pandemic, citizens today generally enjoy a considerable degree of personal freedom inside the country with an equal amount of travel freedom throughout the world,” Nomad stated.
The passport which is the ninth most powerful in the world is Sweden's, which dropped from the joint second last year.
“Sweden is nonetheless enjoying a seven-year streak as a top ten passport. This is due to the country’s excellent global reputation and the high level of personal and travel freedoms afforded, but this comes at the cost of extremely high taxes.”
The last passport on the top-ten list is Finland.
Finland, which was rated number one just a few years ago, still offers visa-free travel to a large number of countries, but more stringent tax policies for expats reduced the country’s score.
Of the 199 passports ranked by the firm, Pakistan's has been ranked at 195.
"Pakistan passport ranking relative to other global passports is calculated by relying on the Pakistan government's approach not just to travel, but also to international taxation laws, global perception, dual citizenship, and personal freedom as just the number of countries Pakistan passport holder may visit won't tell the whole story and you will have to deal with far different requirements to pay tax, live freely, comply with regulations, and avoid scrutiny when traveling, the firm said."
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