For many passport-holders, the idea of crossing a border without a visa seems foreign. But with today’s highly mobile and globalized society, visa-free travel has become a vital tool for freedom and opportunity.
According to the mobility intelligence platform, Passport Index, 54% of the world’s countries have opened their borders for easier travel — and this number continues to grow.
“Global citizenship is the future of humanity,” says Armand Arton, a member of YPO and Founder and President of Arton Capital — a global affiliate partner of YPO and creator of the Passport Index.
“It is not a question of ‘if,’ but ‘when.’ Globalization has reached every part of our existence, but politics and citizenship have largely remained intact.”
The Passport Index was first launched as a platform to help Arton’s clients and team members travel more efficiently. Soon thereafter, the tool launched to the public and aimed to educate and engage users on the power of passports. Today, it has become the leading interactive online tool with over 50 million views.
As a real-time global ranking of the world’s passports, the website is updated as frequently as new visa waivers and changes are implemented. Users can compare passports side by side and even explore how they can improve their Global Mobility Score by adding additional passports.
Who’s Got the Top Passport?
Like any index that is based on scoring, there is a leader of the pack.
In 2018, The Passport Index named the United Arab Emirates (UAE) passport as the most powerful passport in the world with a Global Mobility Score of 168, granting its passport holders seamless access to 84% of the world.
Since then, the UAE’s Global Mobility Score has jumped up to 178, giving Emirates access to nearly 90%!
Arton says the UAE has been striving to reach the Passport Index Top 5 ranking since 2017.
“They not only reached their goal, but they pushed further to rank in first place,” he says. “It’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s ultimate goal to bring the UAE to the top,” shares Arton.
Currently, in second place are Germany, Finland, Luxembourg and Spain, with a Global Mobility ranking of 171, followed by a host of mostly European countries, as well as Japan, South Korea, and the United States of America in third place with a 170 score.
Why global citizenship matters
Becoming a Global Citizen through a program that unlocks access to visa-free travel brings forth many unique opportunities.
“Frictionless mobility, increased opportunity and enhanced safety will allow travelers to focus their time and effort on what is more important to them — their family and their business,” Arton says.
At the extreme end of the spectrum is the affluent business executive who’s now in the business of buying nationalities — a fast-growing trend known as “investment migration,” states the Robb Report.
“Wealthy individuals are buying passports legally on the open market to hedge their identities and lifestyles in the same way they hedge their portfolio,” writes John Arlidge from The Sunday Times.
“Frictionless mobility, increased opportunity and enhanced safety will allow travelers to focus their time and effort on what is more important to them — their family and their business.”— — Armand Arton, Founder & President of Arton Capital
So, what’s next?
Mobility has always been at the forefront of human evolution. Throughout history, the movement of ideas, skills and trades have brought upon the most groundbreaking innovations to humankind. And although we have only recently started to identify ourselves as Global Citizens; its core has been engrained into our DNA for generations.
Consequentially, even governments are following suit.
According to the World Openness Score, by the Passport Index, which monitors how welcoming countries are to foreign visitors; the world has consistently seen a trend of 4% increased openness year after year.
“Through our WOS data, we estimate a borderless world by 2035,” explains Arton.
So, will 100% of the world’s countries open their borders for easier travel? Not likely, according to Arton.
Until then, the power of holding a valued passport is essential.