January’s Visa-Free Digest

A Comprehensive Analysis of Last Month’s Changes to Visa-Free Travel Across the Globe.

AngolaIndiaSt Kitts and Nevis
AustraliaIraqSudan
AzerbaijanIsraelSwaziland
BotswanaMacauSyria
BulgariaMexicoThailand
Canary IslandsNamibiaTurkey
ChinaNorth MacedoniaUnited Arab Emirates
CroatiaOmanUnited Kingdom
CyprusPhilippinesUnited States
Dominican RepublicRomaniaUruguay
EnglandRussia 
European UnionSao Tome and Principe 
Hong KongSouth Africa 

Europe

Named relevant countries: Azerbaijan, Botswana, Bulgaria, Canary Islands, Croatia, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, England, European Union, Mexico, Namibia, Romania, Russia, Turkey, United States, Uruguay

On 1 December, during political consultations between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine and Costa Rica, Ukraine expressed interest in the early conclusion of a bilateral visa waiver agreement between the two countries.

On 10 December, the Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Turkey signed Protocol No. 1 between the Government of Azerbaijan and the Government of Turkey on amendments to the Agreement on Mutual Exemption from Visas. After the protocol enters into force, citizens of Azerbaijan and Turkey will be able to travel between the two countries without a visa, but with an identity card, for stays of up to 90 days.

On 11 December, the Foreign Minister of Russia, Sergey Lavrov, wrote that Russia is interested in signing a mutual visa agreement for citizens of Russia and Mexico. He made the statement in an article marking the 130th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

On 15 December, a visa waiver agreement between the Governments of Russia and the Dominican Republic entered into effect. Under the agreement, citizens of Russia and the Dominican Republic may stay in the other country for up to 60 days during any 180-day period.

On 22 December, the European Commission reported on the progress made since March 2020 towards the European Union achieving full visa reciprocity with the United States. The Commission reiterated its active support for Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania to help them fulfil the requirements of the US Visa Waiver Programme.

Covid-19 Responses

On 12 December, England removed the Canary Islands from its travel corridor list. Further, on 19 December, England removed Namibia and Uruguay. Persons arriving in England from these jurisdictions are therefore subject to a 10-day self-isolation requirement.

On 12 December, England added Botswana to its travel corridor list. Persons arriving in England from Botswana are therefore exempt from the country’s 10-day self-isolation requirement.

Caribbean

Named relevant countries: North Macedonia, St Kitts and Nevis, Swaziland

On 15 December, the Foreign Minister of St Kitts and Nevis, Mark Brantley, announced on social media that St Kitts and Nevis and North Macedonia signed a visa waiver agreement via their high representatives in London.

On 24 December, a memorandum of understanding on the mutual waiver of visa requirements between St Kitts and Nevis and Swaziland entered into force. Citizens of the two countries may now visit the other for stays of up to 90 days.

Middle East

Named relevant countries: Australia, China, India, Iraq, Israel, Morocco, Oman, Russia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States

On 9 December, the Royal Oman Police announced on social media that Oman will implement visa exemptions for nationals of 103 countries for stays of up to 10 days. Visa-exempt countries will include Australia, China, India, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

On 13 December, representatives of the United Arab Emirates and Thailand signed a mutual visa waiver agreement for holders of diplomatic and special passports for stays not exceeding 90 days. The agreement is set to enter into force upon the completion of constitutional procedures in the two countries.

On 17 December, the President of Turkey hosted the Prime Minister of Iraq at the presidential palace. Among the topics discussed was the resumption of visa-free travel between the two countries, after Turkey halted its visa-free regime with Iraq following the rise of Islamic State. Turkey and Iraq have now agreed to form a committee to outline a roadmap to the resumption of visa waivers.

On 19 December, four bilateral deals were signed between Israel and Morocco, including a visa waiver agreement for diplomats of the two countries.

Asia

Named relevant countries: China, Hong Kong, Macau, Philippines, Thailand, United States

On 7 December, the Philippines implemented visa-free entry for foreign spouses, parents, and children of Filipinos if travelling with the Filipino national, as well as former Filipino citizens and their families.

On 8 December, the Prime Minister of Thailand ordered an easing of travel restrictions, including the resumption of visa-free entry to Thailand for 56 countries. According to Tanee Sangrat, the representative of the Foreign Ministry, the 56 countries will have their permitted period of stay increased from 30 days to 45 days to allow for a 14-day quarantine period.

On 10 December, Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry of China, announced the immediate revocation of visa exemptions for holders of United States diplomatic passports visiting Hong Kong and Macau. The announcement comes after the United States imposed financial sanctions and a travel ban on over a dozen Chinese officials because of their role in adopting the National Security Law in Hong Kong earlier in 2020.

Africa

Named relevant countries: Angola, Sao Tome and Principe, Sudan, Syria

On 9 December, the Ministry of Interior of Sudan announced on social media that, due to a change in policy, citizens of Syria would need a visa to enter Sudan. The announcement followed 20 years of visa-free entry to Sudan for Syrians.

On 18 December, Angola and Sao Tome and Principe signed a visa waiver agreement for holders of diplomatic, service, and ordinary passports after 40 years of holding diplomatic relations. Sao Tomean Minister of Foreign Affairs, Co-operation, and Communities, Edite dos Ramos de Costa, signed the agreement on behalf of Sao Tome and Principe.