Four passports of four Caribbean countries
Four passports of four Caribbean countries

Dominica has the eighth most powerful passport in the Caribbean, with its holders eligible to visa-free entry to 119 of 218 countries, according to the global consulting firm Henley and Partners, which specialises in residence and citizenship planning.

In its recently-released Visa Restrictions Index for 2016, Dominica remained 41st overall globally, but up from 45th in 2014, when a Dominican passport gained its holder entry to 94 countries.

Barbados (141), the Bahamas (140), Antigua & Barbuda (134), St. Kitts and Nevis and Venezuela (132), Trinidad & Tobago (130), St. Lucia and St. Vincent & the Grenadines (125) and Grenada (121) all rank above Dominica in terms of desirability of passports.

As it relates to economic migration, Antigua and Barbuda trounced Dominica's citizenship-by-investment programme, according to Henley and Partners.

"The leading Caribbean citizenship-by-investment location, Antigua and Barbuda, ranked 30th and its passport-holders may now travel to 134 countries visa-free," it wrote. It ranks the St. Kitts & Nevis programme as the region's second best.

It reports a steady growth of countries selling passports as a means of earning foreign exchange, and that "those countries with relevant programmes" continue to perform strongly, all featuring in the top 30 of the Index.

As an example, it points to Malta, the European Union member country with the world's most successful citizenship-by-investment programme with over EUR 1 billion in capital raised since its launch in 2014, which has gained visa-free access to another two countries since 2015, "making it the 8th most powerful passport in the world".

The Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus, another key location of citizenship-by-investment in Europe, also added two countries since last year, ranking 17th on the Index with visa-free access to 159 countries, while Portugal, which holds the most attractive residence-by-investment programme through its Golden Visa Programme, has taken 6th position in the 2016 Index, gaining two countries to total 172 countries its citizens may travel to visa-free, the firm reports.

"The continued development of these countries demonstrates the critical nature of good visa-free access to countries offering investor migration programmes. In turn, this speaks of the importance of due diligence in such programmes, since the reputation of a country's passport and its relationship with other countries is only as good as its newest citizens," it warns.

Overall, Germany has retained its position as the country with the world's most powerful passport, with visa-free access to 177 countries, while Sweden remained in second place with a ranking of 176. The UK meanwhile, dropped from first to third place this year, after three consecutive years in first place. A larger group of countries sit in third place, with Finland, France, Italy, Spain and the UK all having visa-free access to 175 countries, according to the latest report.

Somalia, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan continue to hold the bottom four positions on the Index, and have again been labelled as having the worst passports in the world.