Cape Town – South Africa, which ranks 89th out of 161 on a new index that measures the quality of a nationality, should improve visa-free travel status for its citizens to increase its ranking.

That’s the message from Henley & Partners SA spokesperson Sandra Woest, who spoke to Fin24 about the release of Henley’s Quality of Nationality Index (QNI), which is the world’s first index to rank the quality of nationalities worldwide.

It explores internal factors (40% of index) like the scale of the economy, human development, peace and stability as well as external factors (60% of index) like visa-free travel and the ability to settle and work abroad without cumbersome formalities. It is these facts, Henley explains, that make one nationality better than another in terms of legal status in which to develop its citizens talents and business.

Germany tops the ranking, with the UK ranked at 11 and the US at 28. The Democratic Republic of Congo lies at the bottom of the list, with Afghanistan and the Central African Republic the lowly runners-up.

The high ranking of Portugal (16) and Malta (22) shows their worth as a destination for South Africans wanting second passports, Woest said in a News24 video interview.

WATCH: Why the index is important for choosing a second passport

Travel to 168 countries including the US with a Maltese passport

“If you look at the Maltese passport, you can even travel to America visa-free,” Woest said. “You can travel to 168 countries in actual fact. They’ve got a strong economy and that rates them very high.”

South Africa ranks fourth out of the Brics nations, beating India, which ranked 102. “We’re a little bit below the average of the QNI rating, but we’re not that bad. If you compare us to other African passports, of course we’ve got excellent visa-free travel, but we don’t really have the right to just settle anywhere else, which counts against us.

“What we can do to actually make our nationality stronger, we should negotiate with other governments and get more visa-free travel,” she said. “South Africa is a good country. I can’t see why anybody wouldn’t allow us to travel visa-free.”

WATCH: Don’t leave SA, just get another passport

Second  passport helps send your kids to European school, university

Woest said Henley & Partners doesn’t encourage people to migrate. “We facilitate a second passport, a second nationality, that second citizenship by investment or residence by investment.

“It gives them that second option, that Plan B, that security,” she said, adding it gives South Africans options to send their children to European schools and universities.

“It opens up the world,” she said. “For business people, it gives you visa-free travel.

“We don’t want people to leave, but we want to give them that option to have access to the rest of the world,” she said.

“You should have the choice where you want to invest and where you want to live,” she said.

This article was first published in Fin24 on 17 June 2016

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