Cyprus passport still opens doors

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The Cyprus passport is among the most powerful and desirable in the world, according to an index prepared by London-based Henley and Partners.

The index is part of Henley and Partners’ Global Mobility Report 2023 Q1.

Henley and Partners’ list ranks the Cypriot passport 16 worldwide for the number of destinations its holders can access without a prior visa.

It dropped two spots in the table compared to the previous index.

A Cyprus passport provides its holders visa-free access to more than 177 countries and territories.

The Henley Passport Index ranks 199 passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access. It is updated in real-time throughout the year, as and when visa policy changes occur.

The company monitors which of the world’s passports provide the most visa-free access, based on the International Air Transport Association (IATA) data.

In general, travel “freedom” has expanded worldwide in recent years.

According to the latest list, Japan was top, as its citizens can enjoy visa-free or visa-on-demand access to a record 193 destinations worldwide.

Just a step behind Japan is the passport issued by Singapore and South Korea, whose citizens can freely visit 192 destinations.

The United Kingdom occupied the sixth spot at 187 visa-free destinations, the same as France, Ireland, and Portugal.

Greece was eighth with 185 visa-free destinations.

Afghanistan was at the bottom, as its passport holders could only access 27 countries without a visa.

The report said global travel is now at around 75% of pre-pandemic levels, based on data released by IATA.

Although still highly desirable, Cyprus passports have lost their shine since it was forced to scrap its maligned Cypriot citizenship scheme for foreign investors following revelations of scandals involving top public figures.

The scheme ended in November 2020, following an Al Jazeera ‘gotcha’ video that captured officials allegedly trying to help a client with a criminal record acquire a Cyprus passport amid corruption allegations and pressure from Brussels.

Then House Speaker Demetris Syllouris and AKEL MP Christakis Giovani, implicated in the case, stepped down from public office.

The golden passport scheme generated more than €8 bln for the local economy over 13 years.

A damning public inquiry ruled that over half (53%) of the 6,779 passports granted were done so illegally, encouraged by a due diligence vacuum or insufficient background checks.