A new way to think about Citizenship by Investment (‘CIP’) countries
June 21st 2019
Most people have some awareness of the number of countries that a particular citizenship will help them gain access to. The classic example is the Schengen Area of the European Union in which passport holders of any of the 26 nations are able to visit the other 25 nations without border control. However, what people might not consider is the size of land that a particular passport (or citizenship) enables the holder to visit.
Clearly, a passport holder from a larger nation in terms of area, such as Brazil or India, is going to be able to visit a larger number of cities and regions than a person from Sri Lanka or Nepal.
The article identifies the most powerful Citizenship by Investment (‘CIP’) countries in terms of the total area in square kilometers that their passports are able to reach visa-free, rather than in terms of the number of countries they can access.
For the purpose of this article, the Henley & Partners Passport Index has been the basis for the definition of the term “visa-free,” and the calculation for a country’s landmass excludes all bodies of water such as lakes or rivers.
It is important to note that visa-free agreements with the Russian Federation (‘Russia’), the People’s Republic of China (‘the PRC’), and the United States (‘the US’) make a big difference to the ranking of a passport. Russia, is in first place in terms of sheer landmass, and is nearly twice as large as China in second and the US in third. There are a number of bilateral agreements that are often not common knowledge.
A good example of this is Vanuatu and Saint Lucia. The former has a visa-free agreement with Russia and the latter, unlike the neighbouring countries of Dominica, Grenada, and Saint Kitts & Nevis, does not. The Vanuatu passport is thus able to access 28% of the world’s landmass as opposed to just 19% for Saint Lucia.
But take away the visa-free agreement with Russia, which contributes 41% to the area Vanuatu is able to reach, and the country will be left with only 16% access to the world’s surface area.
The power of the Saint Lucia passport may be increased by 40% should the representatives of the country to the UN general assembly be able to convince Mr. Sergey Lavrov to give access to the Caribbean nation. Such a move would dramatically enhance bilateral relations.
Malta, a CIP-country of interest, shares visa-free access to Canada with Cyprus, another CIP-country. It also has access to the US, but not to China or Russia.
Grenada: unique in its region
Grenada, unique in its region and among CIP-countries follows right behind Malta in passport power. It not only has the privilege of visa-free access to Russia, but also to China, with whom it has had long-standing diplomatic relations. Having such important friends, opens a number of doors for persons wishing to travel to and from Russia and China regularly. It is a benefit of Grenada citizenship that is not immediately obvious to newcomers.
Owing largely to Malta being the sole CIP-country with visa-free access to Australia, it ranks above Grenada despite not having access to Russia.
For the next visa-waiver agreements, more CIP-countries should consider signing with Brazil, as the similar countries of Saint Kitts & Nevis, Grenada, Dominica, and Montenegro have done. This would go a long way in increasing the passport power of Saint Lucia, Vanuatu, and Moldova.
Most CBI-countries, including Jordan, have signed with Indonesia. With a global landmass total of 1.2%, the passport power of countries such as Montenegro would greatly benefit from a visa-agreement with it. Montenegro passports will be able to enjoy access to Kazakhstan’s 2.7 million km2 surface area, much as the Moldovan passport already does.
Africa and its 12 nations, including Mauritania, should consider a one-way visa-free agreement with CIP-countries like Vanuatu, even if only for the CIP-countries to gain access to more than 1 million km2 of the African landmass.