Giving unprecedented insight into the development of visa policies over time, Henley & Partners has released its annual Visa Restrictions Index. The index saw South Africa taking the 54th position, providing access to 97 countries visa-free out of a possible 218. It may appear that the African nation has poor global mobility, but a South African citizen can increase his position simply by acquiring dual citizenship.
South African-Antiguan passport
One route to obtaining dual citizenship is through a citizenship-by-investment programme. Antigua and Barbuda, which runs the most successful citizenship-by-investment programme in the Caribbean, provides visa-free travel to 134 countries around the world and is thus an appealing location for investors. The island nation is considered one of the most beautiful places in the world, and, as a result, tourism is the key driver of the GDP, generating around 60% of the island’s income, with key target markets being the US, Canada and Europe. The island signed a visa waiver agreement with the EU in 2009, which allows its citizens to visit Schengen countries without a visa.
A South African citizen interested in obtaining dual citizenship with Antigua and Barbuda would add 55 new countries in which they could travel to visa-free. This means that by having both South African and Antigua and Barbuda passports, one could travel to a total of 152 countries, ranking themselves 22nd on the Index, the same as Andorra and Argentina. This combined passport will provide access to countries previously hampered by lengthy and costly visa application processes, including most European countries and Canada.
The South African-Maltese passport
The Malta Individual Investor Programme (MIIP) meanwhile is the most interesting and advanced citizenship-by-investment programme in the world, and was designed and implemented by Henley & Partners in close cooperation with the Government of Malta. The MIIP has significantly boosted Malta’s status, and today the archipelago holds the 9th most powerful passport in the world, with visa-free access to 168 countries.
Dual citizenship with South Africa and Malta would increase your ranking to 3rd on the Index – increasing by 51 places – and adding a massive 78 countries to your existing South African visa-free travel list to give you a new total of 175 countries if carrying both passports. This means your passport would be the equivalent of the UK’s, and it would be stronger than the US, Canada, and several European countries including Belgium, Austria, Portugal, and Switzerland, among others.
While a South African-Antiguan passport does not have visa-free access to as many countries as a South African-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.