July’s Visa-Free Digest 2018

A comprehensive analysis of last month’s changes to visa-free travel across the globe.

Planning your next trip abroad? You will find this Visa-Free Digest especially helpful if you’re about to travel to or from these countries and territories:

EUROPENamed relevant territories:Belarus; Russia; China; Japan; Turkey; European Union; Georgia; Montenegro; Kosovo
CARIBBEAN Named relevant territories: Antigua and Barbuda; Ukraine
AMERICASNamed relevant territories: Canada; Romania; Ecuador; Nigeria
MIDDLE EASTNamed relevant territories: United Arab Emirates; Barbados; Brazil; Canada; Oman; Israel; Samoa
ASIANamed relevant territories: Myanmar; Japan; South Korea; China; Kyrgyzstan; Serbia; Chile; Kazakhstan; China; Azerbaijan; India; Georgia; Vietnam; France; Italy; Germany; Spain; United Kingdom; Taiwan; Brunei, Philippines, Thailand
AFRICANamed relevant territories: Angola; Venezuela; Cape Verde; Rwanda

Check our June’s Visa-Free Digest for more updates.


Europe

On 1 June, Belarus’ President, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, said that Belarus would respond to any action taken by Russia to strengthen the border between the two nations. “If they want to close the border — please go ahead […] If they close [the border], we must also impose border controls.”

On 7 June, Belarus confirmed that its visa-free agreement with Russia, which extends Russia’s own visa-free regime for FIFA World Cup attendees to Belarus’ borders, was being monitored and had resulted in no violations. “We’re maintaining regular contact with our Russian colleagues. They also have situation centres in the Interior Ministry and in the host cities. We’re in direct contact with each of these centres through our officers that have been sent there,” said Belarusian Interior Minister Igor Shunevich.

On 10 June, Belarus and China signed an agreement on the abolition of visas for ordinary passport holders travelling on short stays. The agreement envisions visa-free travel for up to 30 days, and for no more than a cumulative 90 days per year. The agreement was ratified by Belarus on 28 June 2018 and is due to come into force one month after ratification.

On 1 June, 60 Japanese citizens entered Russia’s Iturp Island without a visa for the first time this year. The island is part of the South Kuril Islands, which have been disputed by Russia and Japan since the end of the Second World War, and which will be visited by nine delegations of Japanese citizens visa-free throughout 2018.

In May 2018, a group of 60 citizens travelled to Kunashir Island. On 6 June, Muneo Suzuki, leader of Japan’s New Party Daichi and unofficial advisor to the Prime Minister with respect to Japan’s relations with Russia, said that the two nations should work towards launching a full visa-free regime for the South Kuril Islands. He noted that Japanese sailors can already access the South Kuril Islands’ seas without a visa, and that the same privileges should be extended to land.

On 4 June, Russia’s temporary visa-free policy for holders of fan IDs for the 2018 FIFA World Cup came into effect. The policy will remain in place until 15 July 2018 and allows visitors to enter Russia without a visa upon presenting their valid passports and fan IDs, demonstrating they will be attending World Cup matches.

On 8 June, European Commission spokesperson Natasha Bertaud responded to the suspension of the Turkey-Greece agreement dating to 8 November 2001, which took place on 7 June 2018. She noted that the agreement was a prerequisite to any visa-free travel agreement between Turkey and the European Union. The 2001 agreement applies to those refugees who travelled from Turkey to Greece via Evros. It does not apply to refugees who reached Greece after March 2016, when Turkey reached a separate agreement with the European Union for the repatriation of refugees.

On 15 June, the Foreign Ministry of Georgia announced that its citizens could travel to Montenegro without a visa for a maximum of 90 days in every 180-day period. Montenegrins can also travel to Georgia without a visa, based on a separate regime.

In mid-June, Sergei Paltov, Russia’s Consul General in Shenyang, said that Russia and China were negotiating the establishment of a 72-hour visa-free regime for Chinese citizens entering Russia through its most prominent cities.

On 28 June 2018, the European Commission published it report on whether Kosovo should be granted visa-free travel, something that depends on Kosovo making significant improvements in its fight against organised crime and corruption. A positive report would mark the first step in Kosovars being able to travel to the Schengen Area without having to pre-apply for a visa.

Caribbean

On 29 June, the visa-free agreement signed between Antigua and Barbuda and Ukraine in February 2018 came into force, resulting in holders of diplomatic, service, and ordinary passports being able to enter each other’s country for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.

Americas

Beginning 5 June, Canada tightened controls on persons travelling on ordinary passports from Romania. A statement by the Canadian Embassy in Bucharest said that Romanian visitors must have an electronic passport to enter Canada visa-free using the Electronic Travel Authorisation (eTA) system only. Romanian travellers without electronic passports must apply for a visa.

On 21 June, Ecuador denied statements that it had signed a visa-free travel agreement with Nigeria. Ecuador’s Embassy said that “the news about the Embassy signing a visa free agreement with the Federal Government of Nigeria, for Nigerian citizens, as published by different media houses is completely false.”

Middle East

On 1 June, the United Arab Emirates and Barbados signed a Memorandum of Understanding to enable UAE passport holders to visit the Caribbean island without a visa for a period of up to 90 days. The agreement is due to come into force on 1 July 2018, and applies to those with UAE diplomatic, special, and ordinary passports.

On 2 June, the United Arab Emirates and Brazil inaugurated a mutual visa-free travel regime allowing ordinary passport holders entry into their respective territories for a period of up to 90 days in a year. The regime is the 151st for citizens of the United Arab Emirates allowing them to enter a nation or territory without needing to previously apply for a visa.

On 5 June, the agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Canada came into effect, allowing nationals of the United Arab Emirates to remain in Canada for business or tourism purposes for a period of up to six months. Canadians can travel to the United Arab Emirates under a free visa-on-arrival regime, which allows for multiple stays of up to 30 days.

On 12 June, Oman announced a tourist visa-on-arrival scheme for nationals of India who hold a residence or short-term entry visa to Australia, Canada, Japan, the Schengen member states, the United Kingdom, or the United States. The scheme also applies to the spouse and children of the Indian national who travel with him or her to Oman. Indians who enter under the scheme must pay 20 Omani rials, and may remain in Oman for a period of up to one month.

On 22 June, it was announced that Israel was planning on establishing a visa-free regime for citizens of Samoa. The announcement was made by Galumalemana Nissan Krupsky, Samoa’s Honorary Consul in Israel. It is the second time that the two nations discuss a visa liberalisation scheme.

Asia

On 1 June, Myanmar declared it would soon remove short-stay visa requirements for citizens of Japan and South Korea. At the same time, Myanmar said it would enable a visa-on-arrival regime for nationals of China travelling on group tours. All three schemes are intended to boost tourism in Myanmar, and are expected to come into force in October 2018.

On 6 June, Kyrgyzstan ratified the visa-free agreements signed with Serbia and with Chile. Persons holding ordinary passports from Serbia will be able to remain in Kyrgyzstan for up to 90 days. Persons holding diplomatic, official, or service passports from Chile will also be allowed entry for up to 90 days.

On 11 June, Kazakhstan denied reports that the nation was negotiating a visa-free waiver regime with China. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted that all that was being discussed were provisions for stop-overs at Chinese airports, to be extended from 24 to 72 hours.

On 12 June, Azerbaijan approved a visa-free agreement signed with India. The agreement allows holders of diplomatic, official, and service passports to travel without a visa for short trips, and was signed by the two nations in April 2018.

In late June, Vietnam announced it would further extend its short-stay visa-free regime for nationals of France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom. The visa regime, which was initially launched in 2015 and was prolonged several times, is now due to remain in place until 30 July 2021.  It enables stays of up to 15 days.

On 28 June, Taiwan announced the extension of its three visa-free regimes for citizens of Brunei, the Philippines, and Thailand. The extension, due to remain in place until 31 July 2019, sees citizens of the Philippines retain their visa-free stay of up to 14 days, and citizens of Brunei and Thailand lose their lengthier 30-day staying rights in favour of 14 days. Citizens of Brunei and Thailand have been benefiting from visa-free access to Taiwan since August 2016, while Filipinos have been able to travel to Taiwan without a visa since November 2017.

Africa

On 6 June, Angola issued a presidential decree approving an agreement for visa-free travel signed with Venezuela in February 2018. The agreement applies to holders of diplomatic and service passports.

On 19 June, with presidential decree no. 150/18, Angola established a visa-free regime for citizens of Cape Verde and Rwanda. According to the decree, the regime is to come into force on 1 July 2018.