Friday, 9 December 2022

The Rising Power of the Croatian Passport

December 9, 2022 - Whisper it quietly, but the Croatian passport has become rather a useful thing to have in recent times. Time for the diaspora to reengage with the Homeland?

When I moved to Croatia in 2002, the new Croatian passport was about a decade old and fairly weak on the international stage. By contrast, the British passport was one of the strongest and most desirable in the world. 

How times change... 

Brexit has been a real pain in the ass for so many British citizens on so many levels, one of the great own goals of all time, and Brits feel the pain of Brexit on so many levels on everyday life. I was shocked, for example, on my last trip to the UK (the first in several years) that I was no longer free to fill my car up with as much booze as I liked at the Calais Duty Free. But there are many much bigger restrictions now, such as 90-day maximum stays in countries like Croatia, as well as restrictions on things such as buying property for Brits abroad. 

A complete own goal. And it is safe to say that the British passport is no longer cool. 

One of the biggest beneficiaries of the Brexit debacle in terms of new citizens has been the Republic of Ireland. Similar to Croatia, Ireland has a huge history of emigration, and yet suddenly, it found itself incredibly in demand over the Brexit saga. A population of 5.8 million issued an astonishing number of passports (I read it was 2.4 million over a 3-year period around Brexits), as mostly Brits scrambled for a way to maintain access to the EU and all its perks. With its policy of granting automatic citizenship to people who could prove an Irish grandparent, many took the option - myself included. Will all those people move to Ireland to live? Of course not, but there will be some mutual benefits from these new relationships. 

Yesterday's green light for Croatia to join the Schengen zone in 2023 got me thinking about that weak Croatian passport of 2002 and the new reality today, especially when compared to the British passport. One of the most popular articles ever on TCN was due to the blue Croatian passport at the height of the Brexit debate. One of the tangible benefits of leaving the EU apparently was that the UK would be free to choose the colour of its passport - as though there were not more important things to think about for the future. This was 'taking back control' for the masses, rejecting the hated Burgundy EU version. At least until we pointed out that Croatia had decided to remain blue. The article remains popular today.

By contrast, look at the rise of the Croatian passport, and its relevance and its power. And look at it from the viewpoint of those in the Croatian diaspora in the likes of Peru, Argentina and Chile..How much simpler could life be with a Croatian passport?

2013 - Croatia enters the EU - unrestricted access to the entire EU market for business and travel.

2021 - Visa-free travel for Croatian citizens to the United States.

December, 2022 - Double-taxation treaty signed with the United States. 

December 2022 - Croatia confirmed into the Schengen Zone from January 1, 2023

January 1, 2023 - Croatia will officially adopt the Euro. 

Croatia is also one of the safest countries in the world, with some of the best lifestyle in Europe, as well as brimming with authentic experiences. It now has an A-league passport and access to key markets to add to its portfolio. 

There has never been a better time to search for those ancestral documents and start the process towards Croatian citizenship. 

Would you choose a British or Croatian passport in 2002? No contest. And while I am more than happy with my Irish passport, the call of the Croatian EU blue in 2022 is stronger than the British one, even though they have 'taken back control.'

Meet the returnees who are coming back and making a success of life in Croatia in our Croatian Returnees Reflection series.


What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

Follow Paul Bradbury on LinkedIn.

Croatia, a Survival Kit for Foreigners is now available on Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.


Tuesday, 12 July 2022

What Does It Really Mean to Have a Croatian Identity?

July 11, 2022 - Passport, residence, language... when it comes to Croatian identity, what really builds it? After almost three years living in Croatia, I ask myself some questions.

Not long ago, I agreed to help a master's student with her thesis, in which she sought to learn more about South Americans of Croatian ancestry and how the experience of studying the Croatian language in Croatia has helped them forge a kind of Croatian identity. For those not so familiar, the Croatian Government offers a Croatian language study scholarship through the Central State Office for Croats Abroad, in which people who have completed secondary education and who belong to the Croatian community in one way or another, can travel to five Croatian cities (Zagreb, Split, Rijeka, Osijek and now Zadar) to learn more about the country's language and culture. The experience also allows them to explore their roots further, and even presents them with an excellent opportunity to resolve issues related to their citizenship, passport, and more.

Having studied two semesters in Rijeka and one in Zagreb, and being only a few months away from completing three years living in Croatia, I thought that my experiences and anecdotes could be useful for her research. I can now say that for me it was a very introspective conversation. I don't remember the last time I asked myself so many questions about my experience in Croatia so far, or even about my own identity. One of the questions was: ''What makes you feel Croatian?'' I didn't mean to downplay that question, but my answer was simple: ''I'm not Croatian. I am Peruvian''. It makes one wonder, what exactly makes a Croatian identity? What does it really consist of? It may be several factors, such as the following:

Croatian ancestry

I have met many people throughout the years who told me about how their Croatian-born parents taught them about the country they come from or told me about the Croatian dishes and delicacies that their grandparents prepared at home. It's something that, as a sixth-generation Croatian, I couldn't understand unless I was told about it. Little do we know about my ancestor's life and his reasons for leaving Croatia. Over time we have learned that he died young when his son was just a child. And that son grew up and had his own family, and he also died when his son was very young. Thus, in future generations, the sense of belonging was lost or simply ignored.

In my case, and surely for many like me, the only thing we knew was that our last name is Croatian... and that is it. If we really wanted to get more familiar with those roots, it depended a lot on our own will or interest in learning more. Sometimes it seems that the less you know, the less you identify with a place.

Croatian citizenship

My father obtained Croatian nationality for himself, my siblings, and me when we were still little. Back then it was easier than it is now. Although we didn't know much about Croatia, when we got older we realised the difference between knowing the origin of your last name and having the Croatian Government officially recognise your ancestry. You'd think it wouldn't make much of a difference if you'd never left your own country, but somehow I thought it was a great way to pay tribute to my ancestor by acknowledging his own legacy.

Croatian passport

I didn't have a Croatian passport until I was 23 years old. Being from Peru, the only two feasible ways to obtain it were in Croatia (with the condition of being there during the length of time the process takes) or with an appointment at the Croatian Embassy in Chile. We didn't opt for any of those alternatives because we didn't see the need, during all these years, to have a passport. Suddenly we were presented with an opportunity to obtain a Croatian passport in our own country, and even without fully understanding the advantages beyond the obvious ones, we didn't even think twice.

There are many ways to answer the question, ''Where are you from?'' Some say, ''I'm from Argentina'', and others ''are from Australia''. Just as there are those who say that "they were born in Chile.'' But something I have also heard is from those who respond "I have a Croatian passport" to explain that they also have that citizenship. The passport, in addition to being a travel document that allows you to cross borders as a citizen of a particular country, has also been a symbol to show belonging to a nation. Although I felt like I had taken a big step towards knowing more about my roots the day I got mine, I also keep wondering if having the travel document of a country is enough to feel like part of it.

Residence in Croatia

In October it will be three years since I left everything to make Croatia my new home. This time has helped me understand that having residence in a country goes beyond having the police's permission to stay or even beyond owning or renting a square metre or two in a Croatian city. Living in Croatia involves becoming familiar with what surrounds you: public transport, shopping at the store, visiting the family doctor, walking the streets... all this has helped me feel that I'm adapting better and better to a new society. Having a Croatian ID in your wallet makes you feel there's now somewhere to call home. But is it enough?

Learn the Croatian language

For most, having the above is of little use if you don't know the language. In any case, having the ancestry, the citizenship, the passport or even living in Croatia, but not knowing the Croatian language, is like keeping that cultural gap wide open. There's a common misconception about Croatia as a country where you can get by only by speaking English. Although the majority of its local population speaks English, and very well, it could be said that it is merely a resource to facilitate communication with foreigners of all kinds. After studying the Croatian language for three semesters and empirically for another sixteen months, I still believe that my whole life in Croatia falls apart when I can't keep a conversation in Croatian afloat.

But having said all this, what is it then that makes you feel Croatian? Is it just one factor? Is it a combination of many? The only thing I know is that, at least for today, I'm far from being able to feel I have a Croatian identity.

I was born in Lima. I grew up there. My parents are Peruvian, as are my grandparents, as are my great-grandparents, and so on. The closest friends I've had since I was little are also Peruvian. I know the in-depth the history of my country, its many regions, its diverse cultures, and more. Although I'm adapting better and better to this country, I think I am very far from even considering myself Croatian. Furthermore, I believe that despite having citizenship, living here, having a passport, and learning the language, changing my identity is not something I'm looking for. Maybe its something that comes along naturally and is a process of its own.

For more news about the Croatian diaspora, visit our dedicated section.

Tuesday, 12 April 2022

How Does Croatian Travel Document Rank on New Powerful Passport List?

April the 12th, 2022 - Where does the Croatian travel document rank on the latest list of the world's most powerful passports? With the Croatian passport slowly climbing up the list with each new publication, it's interesting to see where it lies now.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the passport index ranks 199 passports according to the number of destinations their owners can access without needing to arrange for a prior visa. The list is one of several indexes created by financial companies to rank global passports according to the travel benefits they provide to their citizens. It is updated in real time throughout the year, as and when changes to the visa policy take effect.

Since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine following Russian invasion back in late February, many countries have either changed their entry policies or abolished visas for Ukrainian passport holders altogether, meaning Ukraine and as such the Ukrainian passport has seen record growth, the report said.

Meanwhile, the European Union (EU), the United States and Canada have banned Russian operators from their airspace, with some countries no longer issuing visas at all to Russian citizens.

While this hasn't yet dramatically affected the Russian passport's position on the list, the report suggests that is likely to change in the coming months. The index is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and regularly monitors passports across the world, noting those which are are the most favourable for travel since back in 2006.

On the list for the second quarter of 2022, the Ukrainian travel document has grown by one place and is now ranked 34th, and Ukrainian citizens can now travel to 143 destinations without arranging for a visa (or without the need to get a visa upon arrival). Russia dropped four places, down to 49th place, with the ability for Russian passport holders to access 117 countries freely, but this number is likely to drop even more as visa suspensions and sanctions against Russia are formalised.

The top of the index remains the same as before - Japan and Singapore share the first place. Holders of these passports can, in theory, travel to 192 destinations without a visa, but it is worth noting that this doesn't take into account any temporary restrictions.

Afghan nationals are once again at the bottom of the index and only 26 countries can be entered with this passport without the need for a visa.

When ir comes to the top 10, South Korea is still with Germany in second place, with a score of 190, and Finland, Italy, Luxembourg and Spain are jointly in third place, with a score of 189. Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden share fourth place (188), while the French passport has fallen to fifth place.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which lifted all of its remaining coronavirus restructions last month, advanced one place (position 5), next to France, as did Ireland and Portugal.

The United States remains at number six, with a score of 186, sharing a position with Belgium, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland. There is no change to number seven, and Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Greece and Malta remain together, with a score of 185. Hungary is in eighth place alone, with a score of 183, while Poland dropped from eighth to ninth place on the list, sharing a joint place with Lithuania and Slovakia, with a score of 182. Estonia, Latvia and neighbouring Slovenia round out the top ten with a score of 181.

The Slovenian passport is the most powerful in the region, followed by the Croatian travel document, which is in 18th place, ahead of Serbia, which is in position 39 (135 countries) ahead of Macedonia (position 47) and Montenegro (position 48).

For more, make sure to check out our travel section.

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

Blue vs. Red: Should Croatia Finally Change its Passport Colour?

January 26, 2022 - TCN intern Jacob Rukavina explores why Croatia should change its passport colour from blue to red. 

In August, I left my home in Vancouver to begin two years of graduate studies in Sweden. While the program itself was enticing, it was not the primary reason I moved to the land of IKEA and pickled herring. For those who may be unfamiliar, university studies in Sweden are free. Any citizen of the EU/EEA is entitled to fully state-funded education. Luckily for me, I had just received my first Croatian passport a few months earlier after a long and complicated application process. So, passport in hand, I packed my bags and got ready for a new life in Scandinavia. 

The day I arrived at Arlanda International (Sweden's largest airport), I was brimming with excitement. After almost two years of lockdowns, quarantines, and travel bans, words cannot describe how ready I was to be out in the world again. Except now, as a proud EU national, I was free to move around Europe at my leisure. Growing up, I was always jealous of the privileges that most EU citizens still take for granted. Faster security checks, shorter queues, and the right setup shop on a whim in some of the world's most famous cities, an EU passport carries more privilege than most other travel documents. So, as I’m sure you can imagine, after years of paperwork and red tape, I felt like I was finally living out my dreams. And for a short 16-hour flight, I was. Unfortunately, reality cleared the stars from my eyes before I even made it to baggage claim. 

After collecting my things and making my way to passport control, I was surprised to see the confusion on the officer's face as I approached her booth. "This line is for EU/EEA citizens." She explained. Equally confused, I held up my travel document so she could see the words "Europska Unija" written in silver foil letters across the cover. She quickly realized her mistake. "Ah yes, Croatian passports are blue." And after a quick glance at the picture page, she waved me through with no further hassle. It was a far cry from the glamourous entrance I had pictured in my mind, but hey, I'd made it into Sweden. No harm, no foul. 

This experience got me thinking. Despite nearly a decade of EU membership and countless opportunities to join the burgundy family, why is the Croatian passport still blue? I had never really thought about it before. Surely, it would be easier for Croatians to be quickly recognized at border crossing like our Finnish or Luxembourgish counterparts.

So, I did some research. As it turns out, this choice was intentional. As reported in a previous article, in 2015, the government chose not to change the passport colour for fear that it would be associated with the old Yugoslav travel document, opting to include only the ‘European Union’ banner on the cover. Ok, case closed, right? The history is too complicated, and Croatian passports shall forever remain lone specks of blue in a sea of red. 

Well, in my opinion, I hope not, and here’s why.

Despite the symbolic ties between communism and the colour red, all other formerly communist EU members have changed their passport booklets to fit within the Union’s standard design. Even Slovenia, a country that also suffered under Titoist Yugoslavia opted to keep with the colour scheme. Moreover, the dictators of old do not hold a monopoly over an entire palate. As one of Croatia’s national colours, red is immensely emblematic of Croatian national pride and heritage. Anyone who pays attention during the World Cup or the Euro knows just how proud Croatians are to wear red, especially when it comes in the form of the šahovnica, the infamous checkerboard that adorns every jersey in the country.

In the thirty years since independence, Croatia has undergone a significant transformation. The government has successfully rebranded the country, earning this Adriatic paradise a position amongst Europe's most desirable destinations. Even more recently, Croatia has made considerable leaps in foreign policy. In the past several months, Croatian citizens have gained total freedom of movement in Switzerland and access to the United States visa waiver program. No simple feat on either front. With eurozone and Schengen membership expected by the beginning of 2023, Croatia has completely redefined its position on the world stage. Updating the passport would serve as an appropriate way to mark a complete transition into Europe’s innermost circle.

This is not to say we should ignore history. Any new design proposals should not hark back any semblance to the documents issued by the previous regime. Instead, new booklets should incorporate features that reflect Croatia's natural beauty, culture, and rich history. A passport should embody the people who carry it. Perhaps the government could follow in Norway's footsteps, opening a design competition for locals to submit ideas and concept art. Many modern passports include artistry between the pages as an improved security measure, making fakes harder to duplicate. Plitvice, Šahovnica, Pula Arena, there is no shortage of culturally significant locations and figures to draw upon for inspiration. The creative possibilities are limitless, leaving plenty of room to ensure that any new design represents the strong and independent nation that Croatians have worked so hard for.

Switching the passport to red may seem insignificant and unnecessary to some. But in the wake of increasing political instability, this simple demonstration of pro-European leadership would be an important show of support. Despite the recent shift of many governments towards more Eurosceptic parties, Croatia has stood out as a balanced and steadfast advocate for the EU. Aligning the passport is naturally the next step as Croatia enter's Europe's inner core. There is no better expression of national pride than showing solidarity with your closest allies.

For more, check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Thursday, 13 January 2022

Where Does Croatian Travel Document Sit on New Powerful Passport List?

January the 13th, 2022 - The Croatian travel document has risen on the list of passport rankings ever since Croatia joined the European Union (EU) back in July 2013. But where does it rank now?

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, the company which has become best known for its passport index, has been monitoring the world's most powerful passports since back in 2006, basing all of its rankings of passports from around the world on data from the International Air Travel Association.

They say the measures introduced since the emergence of the global coronavirus pandemic have led to the biggest difference in mobility between countries in as long as sixteen years, but the passport index doesn't take into account current restrictions, so technically all those travelling on the world's most powerful passports can, at least in theory, travel without a visa to as many as 192 countries, as reported by Vecernji list.

In the first place are, rather unsurprisingly, Japan and Singapore, whose citizens can travel without the need for visas to 192 countries. The second place is shared by Germany and South Korea, and the third is taken and shared by Finland, Italy, Luxembourg and Spain, whose citizens can visit as many as 188 countries without any additional travel documents (as things stood before the pandemic struck, and without taking it into account now).

As for the Croatian travel document, Croatia and its immediate region, Hungary, whose citizens can visit 183 countries without the need for a visa, is the best, followed by Slovenia, the passport of which allows for visa-free entry into 181 countries. The Croatian travel document comes in 17th place, which means that those holding it do not need a visa for 173 countries. Serbia came in 36th place, and Bosnia and Herzegovina came in 47th place.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Wednesday, 8 December 2021

Thousands of Serbian Citizens Applied for Croatian Passport

December 8, 2021 - In the last two years, 4,903 applications for the Croatian passport were received by the Ministry of the Interior. Of those, 2,982 were submitted by Serbian citizens.

Of the 4,903 applications received by the Interior Ministry this year and last year, Serbian citizens submitted 2,982 applications, followed by BiH citizens with 974 applications, and in the past 30 years 1.1 million foreign citizens have been granted Croatian citizenship by naturalization, Vecernji List reported on Wednesday.

Although it is due to expire in less than a month, on January 1 next year, the Parliament last Friday extended the deadline for submitting applications for Croatian citizenship by another year.

State Secretary at the Ministry of the Interior Žarko Katić also stated that 1,923 such requests for the Croatian passport were received in 2020, and 2,980 in the first 11 months of this year, adding that in some consular offices the deadline is several weeks and sometimes several months.

The electronic system of received applications for determining Croatian citizenship enables the provision of statistical data by the parameter of citizenship of the person submitting the application, and not by the place (consular office or diplomatic mission of the Republic of Croatia abroad) of submitting the application.

Who can apply for citizenship?

As a rule, the nationality of the person coincides with the state in which the application was made, with rare exceptions. For example, a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina or the Republic of Serbia can also apply in Germany if he is legally residing in that country for work, the Ministry of the Interior told Večernji list, followed by a numerical statement of data on requests received.

Out of the total number of applications for Croatian citizenship (4903) received at the Ministry of the Interior, after the Act on Amendments to the Act on Croatian Citizenship entered into force on 1 January 2020, the largest number of applications were submitted by citizens of Serbia ( 2982 requests), Bosnia and Herzegovina (974), Canada (212), the United States (135), Australia (98), the Federal Republic of Germany (87), Montenegro (77), the Republic of Slovenia (63), the Republic of Northern Macedonia (52), United Kingdom (42), France (18), Sweden (15).

Citizens of some other countries are represented with less than 10 applications for Croatian citizenship (Kosovo, Italy, New Zealand, Switzerland, etc.), according to a response from the Interior Ministry, Vecernji List reports.


 For more, check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Thursday, 7 October 2021

Croatian Passport Holds Respectable Position on Passport Power Index

October the 7th, 2021 - The Croatian passport has been holding quite the respectable position on the global passport power list for a considerable amount of time now, especially since the country joined the European Union (EU) back in July 2013. It seems that trend isn't about to change.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, according to the now somewhat famous and widely published report from London-based Henley & Partners, the global gap in terms of freedom of travel has never been greater, and that's due to a variety of factors.

The Henley Passport Index is based on data provided by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which has been monitoring the movement of passports from around the world since back 2006. It has since proven popular and it is always interesting to note the positions of different passports, and what their movement looks like as time goes by.

The Croatian passport comes in at a very respectable 18th place according to this Index. If you have a Croatian passport, then you can travel to 172 countries without the need for any type of visa. Last year, the Croatian passport came in 19th place on this list, and it was possible to travel to 170 countries without a visa, as reported by CNN.

The most powerful passports in 2021 are as follows:

1. Japan, Singapore (192 destinations)
2. Germany, South Korea (190)
3. Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain (189)
4. Austria, Denmark (188)
5. France, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden (187)
6. Belgium, New Zealand, Switzerland (186)
7. Czech Republic, Greece, Malta, Norway, United Kingdom, United States (185)
8. Australia, Canada (184)
9. Hungary (183)
10. Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia (182)

2021's worst passports are as follows:

109. North Korea (39 destinations)
110. Nepal and the Palestinian Territories (37)
111. Somalia (34)
112. Yemen (33)
113. Pakistan (31)
114. Syria (29)
115. Iraq (28)
116. Afghanistan (26)

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

Are you ethnically Croatian? Are you married to a Croat? Have you lived in Croatia for an uninterrupted period of eight years and want to naturalise? If you think you're entitled to a trusty Croatian passport yourself, check out our articles dedicated to citizenship and try your luck.

Sunday, 4 July 2021

A Guide to Dealing with Croatian Bureaucracy: Renewing Documents

July 4th, 2021 - TCN's intern Marina Kaleb takes us through the important steps of renewing your documents and dealing with Croatian bureaucracy. 

Have you personally struggled to find information online when it comes to renewing your documents in Croatia? I've spent days researching, contacting people, and trying to find out the process of how to get the supposed 12-hour rush/rapid/quick passport from Zagreb. It in fact took me over 24 hours to get a "one-day" passport, so here is what I wish I would have known before embarking on this journey on one of the hottest summer days in Zagreb. 

1. Location

The MUP website includes all sorts of details such as payment details and parts of the process of renewing your passport but it is lacking a variety of details. In Croatia for all your documents, you need to go to the local police department. In Zagreb this is located on Petrinjska ul. 30. It is located close to the main square and fairly easy to find. 

2. Payment 

The MUP website provides a list of places where you can submit your payment from FINA, your local bank, or even online banking but what they don't tell you is that there is a post office within the same building which makes everyone's life a lot easier. As you enter the police department, the post office is located in the far left corner. On both sides of the office, they have a stand with pay slips for individual documents, for a rapid passport, you need to fill out two of the slips with your full name, address, and OIB number on the right side of the 410 kuna payslip. 

3. Get there early

Be there bright and early just as the police department opens. I made the mistake of getting there at 9 am which I thought was fairly early and I spent good 3 hours waiting in the heat. Before you submit the payment slips at the post office within the building, pick up a number from the machine at the entrance otherwise you can wait for what feels like forever. At least by the time you pay for your new documents, hopefully, other people would have already left. 

4. Patience will be your best friend

Being stuck indoors waiting for 2+ hours on a hot summer day will test your patience. Come prepared, bring water, a snack, a book, or listen to a podcast. Keep yourself occupied and time will pass by a lot quicker. There are around 4-5 counters usually working for urgent passports and the procedure is very long, so make sure you double-check you got everything you need before you start lining up. Also, the counters wait for about a minute to two before moving on to the next number so make sure to be quick and keep an eye out.  

5. Working time 

When I spoke to people who have been through this procedure before, I was reassured that I was going to get my passport the same day, in just a few hours. So I planned out my trip in advance, booked my bus seat for the same evening, and was ready to pick up my passport and get on the bus. However, nowhere online do they state that because of their summer working time from 7 am to 2/3 pm I believe (it isn't mentioned online), it in fact takes a full 24+ hours to get your passport. We were told to return the next day after 11 am to pick up our "rapid" passports. 

After 24 hours of frustration, exhaustion, and stress I managed to get my new passport so I am hoping this will help someone else who is going to have a close encounter with the Croatian bureaucracy, best of luck! 

For more on lifestyle, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Croatian Passport Holds Respectable Position on New Passport List

April the 13th, 2021 - The Croatian passport holds a respectable position on the newest ranking of the world's most powerful passports despite the ongoing travel restrictions and frequent alterations due to the pandemic.

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Suzana Varosanec writes, the introduction of vaccination programmes against the novel coronavirus are gaining momentum in some countries, and now the continuation of regular international travel programmes is no longer merely an abstract hope, these are the expectations that go hand in hand with the latest results of the Henley Passport Index.

Their passport ranking publication provides an exclusive insight into what post-pandemic travel freedoms might look like when countries around the world selectively begin to open their borders once again to international visitors. In 2021, the Croatian passport ranks 16th, and its holders can enter 173 destinations visa-free. The Croatian travel document has otherwise gradually advanced in recent years by one or two places on this scale, and this is naturally also important for the expected period of economic recovery and development.

Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, president of Henley & Partners and the inventor of the passport index concept, says that the past year has shown that no government is infallible, even those typically considered rich and stable. 

"While no one expects a return to pre-pandemic mobility in the near future, the current outlook certainly has more hope attached to it than it did a few months ago. The latest ranking of the Henley Passport Index is a reminder that economic recovery and development depend on global mobility, including personal freedom of travel, and that the power of the passport should never, ever be taken for granted,''

In their expectations for the rest of 2021, the experts suggest that adaptability and proper responses will be crucial to the survival and success of countries and individuals. Thus, the founder and leading partner of FutureMap, Parag Khanna, believes that in the second half of the year they could see changing migration patterns in the post-coronavirus world, ie they will be "nonlinear and perhaps unpredictable".

"They will mimic the reality of a world in which many crises are taking place, from pandemics to climate change to political polarisation. Countries facing fiscal pressures, as well as a lack of skilled labour and investment, will seek to attract and employ everyone from start-up entrepreneurs who can drive innovation to doctors and nurses who can step up public healthcare services. The global war for talent is now largely underway,'' said Khanna.

Commenting on how governments can begin to take advantage of post-pandemic migration opportunities, NewCities Director of Applied Research Greg Lindsay told Henley & Partners that "destinations ranging from Helsinki to Dubai are already developing programmes and policies aimed at free talent, with the permission of their employers." Lindsay also suggests that the popularity of mobile worker programmes means that in addition, “any global destination is at risk of being left behind when the world reopens again.”

Currently, without taking into account temporary and constantly evolving travel restrictions due to the ongoing pandemic, Japan remains firmly in first place on this index, and according to exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Japanese passport holders can theoretically enter as many as 193 vdestinations worldwide without the need for a visa.

Singapore is still in 2nd place (192 destinations), while Germany and South Korea are once again sharing a joint 3rd place, each with access to 191 destinations visa-free. As has been the case for much of this index’s 16-year history, most of the remaining top 10 places are held by European Union countries. The UK and the United States, which continue to face a steadily corrosive passport strength since 2014, currently share a joint 7th place, with a score of 187.

The latest results show, they claim, that the gap in freedom of travel is now the largest since the index was established back in 2006, given that Japanese passport holders were able to access 167 more destinations visa-free than citizens of nations such as Afghanistan, who can visit only 26 destinations worldwide without obtaining some sort of visa.

Although the Henley Passport Index has moved very little since the coronavirus pandemic broke out, a step back reveals interesting dynamics witnessed over the past decade. In the second quarter of 2021, China entered the top ''climbers'' in the rankings for the first time in a decade: the Chinese travel document rose by 22 places in the rankings since 2011, from 90th place with a score of only 40 to today’s 68th position with a score of 77.

The most significant turnaround in the index, however, is related to the UAE, which in 2011 was ranked 65th with a score of 67, while today, thanks to the “constant efforts of the United Arab Emirates to strengthen diplomatic ties with countries around the world, it is ranked 15th with with a result of 174, very close to the Croatian passport.''

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Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Croatian Passport Jumps to High Place Above American Travel Document

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 6th of October, 2020, the Passport Index has published data for the new most powerful passport in the world, ranking 193 members of the United Nations (UN) according to the number of countries they can enter freely without a visa, or in which a visa can be obtained immediately upon arrival, according to a report from The Croatian passport is in an enviably high place.

Last year’s winner, Japan, has since dropped down to second place, and the prestigious title has now been awarded to New Zealand. New Zealand passport holders can enter most countries without the need to obtain visas - more specifically, they can freely enter as many as 129, although international travel is currently not recommended unless necessary due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Second place is shared by as many as eight countries - Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Ireland, South Korea, Japan and Australia. Individuals holding the passports of those countries can enter 128 countries without visas, while in third place are Sweden, Belgium, France, Finland, Italy and Spain (who can freely enter 127 countries).

Most European countries are in the top 10 most powerful passports in the world, and the Croatian passport was awarded a high eighth place, which it shares with Cyprus and Monaco.

The coronavirus pandemic significantly affected countries' openness to travellers from other countries, and the Passport Index updated its passport rankings despite the continued pandemic-induced instability as it sought to show the true impact of the spread of the new virus on travel.

The United States, for example, has dropped to 21st place on the Passport Index this year (visa-free entry in 92 countries is allowed for US citizens), and citizens of Serbia, Northern Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Albania, all own passports which are better ranked than the American travel document.

At the bottom of the scale are Afghanistan and Iraq, the citizens of which have free entry to only 31 countries in the world.

The 10 most powerful passports in the world according to the Passport Index are as follows:

1. New Zealand, 129 countries without a visa
2. Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Ireland, South Korea, Japan, Australia, 128 countries without a visa
3. Sweden, Belgium, France, Finland, Italy, Spain, 127 countries without a visa
4. United Kingdom, Netherlands, Denmark, Portugal, Lithuania, Norway, Iceland, Canada, 126 countries without visa
5. Malta, Slovenia, Latvia, 125 countries without a visa
6. Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Poland, Hungary, Liechtenstein, 124 countries without a visa
7. Slovakia, 123 countries without a visa
8. Croatia, Cyprus, Monaco, 121 countries without a visa
9. Romania, Bulgaria, 120 visa-free countries
10. San Marino, Andorra, Uruguay, 115 countries without a visa

You can see the complete list of the most powerful passports in the world of the Passport Index by clicking here

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