May’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 countries: Albania, Bahrain, Belarus, China, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Switzerland, Mongolia, Ukraine, Canada, United Kingdom, Macedonia, Uruguay, Peru, Colombia, Kuwait, Russia
CARIBBEAN Name relevant countries: St Kitts and Nevis, Swaziland, Rwanda, India
AMERICASNamed relevant countries: Paraguay, United Arab Emirates
MIDDLE EASTNamed relevant countries: United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Guinea, Honduras
ASIANamed relevant countries: Mongolia, Uruguay, Macau, Kazakhstan, United Kingdom, Ireland, India, Japan, Russia, Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Chile, Serbia
AFRICANamed relevant countries: Swaziland, India, Angola, European Union, Botswana, Mauritius, Namibia, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Togo, Qatar
OCEANIANamed relevant countries: Papua New Guinea, China, Tonga, United Arab Emirates

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


Europe

Beginning 1 April and continuing until 31 October 2018, Albania unilaterally eliminated visa requirements for visitors from Bahrain, Belarus, China, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Thailand staying in the country for up to 90 days. The period selected by Albania reflects the country’s popular summer season.

On 2 April, Belarus’ Sports and Tourism Ministry said it had hopes to see an extension of the current five-day visa-free travel regime for those entering Belarus via Minsk National Airport. The extension, which would allow for stays of up to ten days, is in the hands of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and a decision on the matter is expected by the end of 2018.

On 18 April, Belarus hosted a delegation from Oman for the fifth round of talks between the two nations. One of the key discussion topics was the liberalisation of visa requirements for their ordinary passport holders, including full abolition of visas for short stays. At present, citizens of Oman may remain in Belarus for a period of up to five days when they enter the country through Minsk International Airport.

On 5 April, Switzerland signed a visa-free agreement with Mongolia applicable to diplomatic and official passport holders. The agreement was penned by Ignazio Cassis, who is the first Swiss Foreign Minister to visit Mongolia in an official capacity, and his Mongolian counterpart Damdin Tsogtbaatar.

On 11 April, the Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of the Ukraine, Ivanna Klympush-Tsyntsadze, said she did “not see any prospects for visa liberalisation with Canada or the United Kingdom in the near future.” She highlighted that the United Kingdom was prioritising its Brexit negotiations, and that Canada’s strict requirements for visa waivers would be difficult to meet in the short term.

After his official visit to Macedonia on 11 and 12 April, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said that Macedonia and the Ukraine had decided to sign an agreement on visa-free travel. “We have agreed at the meetings in Macedonia to soon sign a visa waiver agreement – text is almost ready […] we have a common path to the EU and NATO. So, we’ll work together,” said the Minister.

On 12 April, the Ukraine announced it had agreed to a visa-free scheme with Uruguay, to apply to ordinary citizens. The negotiations were completed by the Ukraine’s Director of the Foreign Ministry’s Consular Service Department, Serhiy Pohoreltsev. “We make the world closer for Ukrainians, making travels more comfortable. This motto of ours opens new opportunities for our compatriots, and our passports will gain more points in the list of the world’s most respected passports,” commented the Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry.

In addition to celebrating the Ukraine’s upcoming visa-free regime with Uruguay, on 13 April Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin tweeted that the Ukraine had reached a similar agreement with Peru.

On 14 April, the Ukraine also announced that it was negotiating a visa-free travel agreement with Colombia. The topic was raised by Serhiy Pohoreltsev, who is the Director of the Consular Service Department of the Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry, in a meeting with Luz Stella Portilla, the Director for Consular and Migration Affairs of Colombia’s Foreign Ministry, and Juan Guillermo Castro, the Director of the European Department of Colombia’s Foreign Ministry.

On 18 April, the visa-free agreement signed by the Ukraine and Kuwait in March 2018 came into effect, liberalising travel for holders of ordinary passports. The agreement allows Ukrainian travellers to receive visas-on-arrival and visit Kuwait for a period of up to 3 months.

On 11 April, Russia’s Ministry of Communications and Media announced that holders of Fan IDs for the 2018 World Cup would not just be able to travel to World Cup host cities (Kaliningrad, Kazan, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Samara, Saransk, Sochi, St Petersburg, Volgograd, and Yekaterinburg) visa-free, but also to cities that will not be staging football games. The 2018 FIFA World Cup will run from 14 June to 15 July, and persons with Fan IDs, which are issued together with tickets to the football games, will be able to enter Russia visa-free from 4 June to 25 July 2018.

Caribbean

At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, held in London from 19 to 20 April 2018, St Kitts and Nevis engaged in diplomatic talks with Swaziland, setting the stage for a visa-free agreement to be completed in the coming year. The Honourable Mbuso Clement Dlamini, acting Minister of Foreign affairs of Swaziland, told Foreign Minister the Honourable Mark Brantley that there was a high probability this could be finalised at the UN General Assembly in New York.

On 26 April, St Kitts and Nevis and Rwanda signed an agreement allowing holders of diplomatic, official, or ordinary passports to travel visa-free within their territories for a period of up to 90 days. The agreement, signed by Dr Kevin Isaac, St Kitts and Nevis’ High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, and by Yamina Karitanyi, Rwanda’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, came in the aftermath of the London Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

In a meeting held on 23 April between St Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister, Dr the Honourable Timothy Harris, and India’s Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Shri C.R. Choudhary, the Prime Minister of the Caribbean Federation suggested that the time may be ripe for India to grant ordinary citizens from St Kitts and Nevis visa-free access for short-stay travel. “We think it would be a very good gesture if in fact you were to reciprocate that,” said the Prime Minister as he referenced the unilateral grant of visa-free travel rights to Indian citizens on the part of St Kitts and Nevis.

Americas

In mid-April, Paraguay liberalised its visa scheme for citizens of the United Arab Emirates. Holders of ordinary UAE passports may now enter Paraguay without a visa upon the payment of a US$100 fee at the airport, and remain in the country for up to 30 days.

Middle East

On 4 April, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay signed a Memorandum of Understanding to allow up to 90 days of visa-free travel for persons holding diplomatic, special, official, mission, and ordinary passports. The Memorandum was signed in Abu Dhabi, and is intended to improve bilateral relations between the two nations.

Beginning on 18 April, citizens of the United Arab Emirates obtained the right to enter Guinea with a visa-on-arrival. The scheme came into force following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on 15 March 2018.

On 27 April, the United Arab Emirates and Honduras signed a Memorandum of Understanding on visa-free travel for holders of UAE diplomatic, private, VIP, and regular passports. The Memorandum, due to come into force on 25 May 2018, allows for stays of no more than 90 days.

Asia

On 2 April, Mongolia and Uruguay established a mutual visa-free regime for ordinary passport holders, officials, and diplomats travelling for a period of up to 30 days. The regime was announced by the Deputy Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the two nations: Batmunkh Battsetseg and Ariel Bergamino.

On 8 April, Macau announced that its Secretary for Administration and Justice, Sonia Chan Hoi Fan, received powers to sign a visa-free travel agreement with Kazakhstan. The announcement followed the exchange of diplomatic notes on the agreement between Kazakhstan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Erlan Idrissov, and Macanese officials.

On 11 April, India’s Union Cabinet gave the go-ahead for the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Kingdom and Ireland, an element of which will be visa-free travel for holders of diplomatic passports. India will also see some liberalisation of the visa regime imposed on its ordinary passport holders.

On 11 April, senior diplomats from Japan and Russia came together to discuss the continued availability of visa-free travel to Russia’s South Kuril Islands for certain Japanese citizens. The meeting was followed by a second one on 24 April 2018.

On 23 April, Kazakhstan launched a temporary visa-free regime for ordinary passport holders from India and China. The regime, due to expire on the last day of 2018, allows transit travel within Kazakhstan for a period of up to 72 hours so long as travellers can demonstrate entry via Astana International Airport or Almaty International Airport, and tickets with Air Astana. The regime was officialised by a decree signed on 10 April 2018.

On 26 April, Kyrgyzstan ratified an agreement signed with Chile to allow visa-free travel for holders of diplomatic and service passports from the South American country. The agreement was originally signed on 10 November 2017.

On that same day, Kyrgyzstan ratified its agreement with Serbia, enabling Serbian ordinary passport holders to enter the country without having to first apply for a visa. The agreement was signed on 5 December 2017.

Africa

On 9 April, Swaziland and India signed an agreement for visa-free travel for holders of diplomatic and official passports. The agreement was signed as part of Indian President Ram Nath Kovind’s first official trip to Swaziland.

On 30 April, Angola liberalised visa travel for ordinary citizens of 61 countries. The new regime established a pre-visa system allowing visitors to remain in Angola for up to 30 consecutive days and for a total of 90 days every year. The regime was officialised by Presidential Decree 56/18, issued on 28 February 2017, and applies to all European Union member states, the world’s Portuguese-speaking nations, and Botswana, Mauritius, Namibia, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

On 30 April, Togo signed an agreement with Qatar for persons travelling on diplomatic passports. The agreement followed talks between Amir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the monarch and head of state of Qatar, and Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe, the President of Togo.

Oceania

Between 10-15 April, Rimbink Pato, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade for Papua New Guinea, visited China to discuss, among other matters, a proposed Memorandum of Understanding on the liberalisation of travel for holders of official and diplomatic passports issued by the two nations. Papua New Guinea and China seek to intensify relations, including in areas such as development cooperation.

On 23 April, Tonga and the United Arab Emirates signed a Memorandum of Understanding lifting visa requirements for UAE citizens visiting Tonga for a period of up to 60 days. Subject to approval by the Government of Tonga, the Memorandum is due to come into force on 24 May 2018, and to apply to holders of UAE diplomatic, VIP, special mission, and ordinary passports.