According to the recently updated Henley Passport Index from Henley & Partners, a global leader in residence and citizenship planning, Caribbean passports are increasing in value. Caribbean nationals that are citizens of countries/territories dependent on the United Kingdom, France, Netherlands, and the United States have passports that provide the most visa-free travel around the globe.
Specifically, those that have a passport from the Netherlands and France have visa-free travel to 187 countries and territories. Those with a passport for the United Kingdom and the United States of America, they can travel to 185 countries without requiring a visa.
Caribbean Passport Visa-Free Countries – Rank For Countries With Caribbean Territories
|Rank||Citizenship/Passport||Visa Free Travel Countries||Residence By Investment Program|
|7||United States of America||185||Yes|
- United Kingdom – six territories: Anguilla, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Turks & Caicos, British Virgin Islands
- France – four territories: Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Martin, Saint Barthélemy
- Netherlands – six territories: Aruba, Bonaire, St. Eustatius, Saba, Curacao, St. Maarten
- United States – two territories: Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands
Aerial view of the West Coast of Barbados, he top-ranked visa-free passport for independent Caribbean countries. Photo Credit: ©Dan Christaldi/Barbados Tourism Marketing.
So what about the Caribbean passports for countries that obtained their independence? Barbados tops the list of Caribbean passports with visa-free travel access to 161 countries and territories. They are followed by citizens of Saint Kitts & Nevis with visa-free travel access to 157 countries and The Bahamas with visa-free travel to 155 countries and territories.
Citizens of the Dominican Republic, which is the number one tourist destination in the Caribbean, only have visa-free access to 69 countries and territories. At the bottom of the list for the Caribbean is Haiti, with visa-free travel access to just 48 countries and territories.
Caribbean Passports – Rank For Independent Caribbean Countries
|Rank||Citizenship/Passport||Visa-Free Travel Countries||Citizenship By Investment Program|
|26||St Kitts & Nevis||157||Yes|
|30||St Vincent & The Grenadines||151||No|
|31||Antigua & Barbuda||150||Yes|
|31||Trinidad & Tobago||150||No|
Golf course in The Bahamas who have the second highest ranked visa-free passport for independent Caribbean countries. Photo Credit: ©Dan Christaldi/Bahamas Tourism Marketing.
Caribbean Passports – Citizenship By Investment Programs
Visa-free travel to 100+ countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom, and 26 European Union countries in the Schengen Zone, is one of the main reasons why some Caribbean passports via Caribbean Citizenship By Investment Programs are becoming increasingly popular with ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWI) nationals from the Middle East, Russa, China and even South America.
From a further review of The Henley Passport Index, which was actually produced in cooperation with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) who maintain the world’s largest database of travel information, we see that the Russian passport is ranked 52nd with visa-free travel to 118 countries but not Canada, the United Kingdom or Europen Union Schengen Zone countries. Further down the list is the Chinese passport ranked 72nd with visa-free travel to 79 countries.
This is very limiting for the super-rich from these countries who want to jet around the globe at a moment’s notice for business or pleasure. Thus by securing a Caribbean passport through the newly launched Saint Lucia Citizenship By Investment Program, Russian or Chinese nationals are able to travel to more countries, including those in the Schengen Zone, without the continual hassle of applying for a visa. Plus, the second passport acts as insurance in cases of political and economic instability.
Couples dining Out in Saint Lucia where a Citizenship By Investment Program was recently launched. Photo Credit: ©St Lucia Tourist Board.
Beyond Saint Lucia, only four other Caribbean countries, including Antigua & Barbuda, Grenada, Dominica, St Kitt & Nevis, and Saint Lucia, have Citizenship By Investment Programs. Will others follow? Caribbean countries and territories dependent on the United Kingdom, France, Netherlands, and the United States are not eligible to launch their own Citizenship By Investment Program. In fact, Montserrat, an overseas territory of the United Kingdom, failed to get approval from the British government to launch its own program to help fund recovery after volcanic eruptions left two-thirds of the island uninhabitable. Interestingly, the United Kingdom has a Residence By Investment Program leading to citizenship.
This then means that only independent Caribbean countries like Barbados and The Bahamas who top the visa-free travel can consider launching a Citizenship By Investment Program of their own. Still, only time will tell if they pursue it. There is economic pressure to raise millions, if not billions, for development in the Caribbean through Foreign Direct Investment. So the debate will be stirred as more becomes known about the success of the existing programs.
The Antigua & Barbuda Citizenship By Investment Program launched in 2012 now raises 25% of government revenue, and the Saint Kitts & Nevis program launched in 1984 now raises 33% of the government revenue, about US$74million. But some (politicians and concerned citizens) are now uncomfortable with the growing number of foreign nationals who have no real connection to the island yet travel the globe with a St Kitts & Nevis passport. The latest reports indicate that there are approximately 10,777 foreign nationals carrying St Kitts & Nevis passports — 2,296 granted in 2015 alone!
For Saint Lucia, the new kid on the block, they plan to limit the number of applicants to 500 each year. Still, if all their passport applicants turned out to be couples with say two to three dependents and opted for investment into the Saint Lucia National Economic Fund, the government could raise a minimum of US$125million. That’s an incredible sum to raise from just 500 people, many of whom will invest to secure the passport but won’t actually live in Saint Lucia.
Note: Originally published on March 6th, 2016 this post was updated on November 2021.