A Comprehensive Analysis of Last Month’s Changes to Visa-Free Travel Across the Globe.
|Argentina||Czech Republic||Jordan||Schengen Area|
|Armenia||Democratic Republic of the Congo||Kazakhstan||Senegal|
|Barbados||El Salvador||Laos||South Africa|
|Belarus||European Union||Lebanon||South Korea|
|Benin||Equatorial Guinea||Liberia||Sri Lanka|
|Cape Verde||Hong Kong||Nepal||Ukraine|
|Central African Republic||Hungary||Nigeria||United Arab Emirates|
|China||Iran||Republic of the Congo||Uzbekistan|
Please note that due to the unexpected magnitude of the COVID-19 outbreak, countries across the world have implemented unprecedented travel restrictions. Many countries which are yet to implement complete travel bans, have instead implemented entry restrictions on individuals of any nationality who have recently been in, or transited through, countries deemed most affected by the outbreak. The countries taking such an approach include: Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, Austria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Botswana, Brunei, Cambodia, Central African Republic, China, Fiji, Gabon, Ghana, India, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Macao, the Maldives, Mongolia, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Somalia, South Korea, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Turkey, and the United States.
Named relevant countries: Armenia, Belarus, Czech Republic, Estonia, European Union, Georgia, Hungary, Iran, Kosovo, Schengen Area, Ukraine, Russia, Serbia, South Korea.
On 1 April, following the Government of Kosovo waiving taxes on goods imported from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Chair of the Delegation for relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, Romeo Franz, stated that, in spite of the current crisis, Kosovo is counting on European Union member states to fulfil their promise to grant Kosovars visa-free travel to the Schengen Area. The move, he claimed, would be an important sign of solidarity, particularly for the young people of Kosovo.
On 7 April, the Government of Estonia approved amendments to the Aliens Act and the Obligation to Leave and Prohibition on Entry Act. The amendments oblige third country nationals working with or without a visa, who subsequently become unemployed, to leave the country as soon as possible. The amendments grant the Police and Border Guard Board the right to revoke an alien’s visa or visa-free stay.
On 10 April, the press office of the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, reported that the President held a phone conversation with the President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, in which they discussed the introduction of a visa-free regime between the two countries. The Presidents agreed to accelerate political dialogue after the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.
On 22 April, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belarus to Belgium, Aleksandr Mikhnevich, addressed visa liberalisation between Belarus and the European Union in an online lecture for Belaruslan State University. Belarus’ new visa facilitation agreement with the European Union (aimed at easing visa procedures for several categories of Belarussian applicants), he said, is paving the way for a visa-free agreement. Mikhnevich stated that finalising such an agreement can take up to between five and seven years.
On 2 April, the Office of the President of Ukraine announced the extension of its flight suspension regime until 24 April 2020. The suspension affects citizens of 72 visa-exempt countries.
On 8 April, the European Commission invited the Schengen Area and associated member states to extend the coordinated external border closure for non-essential travel from third countries for a further 30-day period, until 15 May 2020.
On 13 April, the Deputy Prime Minister of Armenia, Tigran Avinyan, announced an extension of the country’s state of emergency until 14 May 2020. Under the state of emergency, Armenia’s borders with Georgia and Iran remain closed. Citizens of Georgia and Iran previously benefitted from reciprocal visa-free access to Armenia.
On 18 April, Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs announced the extension of the maximum stay period for foreigners due to leave the country by 15 March 2020. The extension applies to foreigners holding visas and foreigners who entered Russia on a visa-free basis, and allows them to remain until 15 June 2020. Further, on 29 April, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announced the extension of Russia’s entry ban on foreign nationals until such time as “the fight against infection is complete.” The entry ban affects citizens of 62 visa-exempt countries.
On 21 April, authorities in Georgia announced the extension of the country’s state of emergency to 22 May 2020. Under the state of emergency, the country’s borders remain closed to foreign nationals and all flights (except for those repatriating Georgian nationals) remain cancelled. The entry ban affects citizens of 93 visa-exempt countries for a period of one year.
On 23 April, the mutual border between Hungary and Serbia re-opened to allow access at three crossing points for commuting workers.
On 27 April, a Government Resolution entered into effect in the Czech Republic, creating exemptions for certain foreign nationals from its blanket entry ban. The exemptions include family members of Czech citizens, cross-border workers, diplomats and officials of international organisations, and EU citizens entering the Czech Republic for the purpose of performing economic activity and study.
Named relevant countries: Bahamas, Barbados, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica.
On 1 April, Dominica implemented a state of emergency and closed all airports to incoming flights and all seaports to seafaring and private boating. As Dominica allows nationals of any country except the Dominican Republic to visit visa-free, the suspensions will be felt worldwide.
On 2 April, following Cuba closing its borders to all non-nationals and non-residents in March, all commercial and charter flights were suspended from entering or leaving Cuba until further notice. Additionally, all foreign sea vessels were ordered to leave Cuban territory. The restrictions affect citizens of 19 visa-exempt countries.
On 13 April, the Government of Barbados extended its 24-hour curfew until 3 May 2020. Under the current curfew, Barbados’ borders remain open but all individuals entering Barbados are subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine. The quarantine measures affect individuals from 142 visa-exempt countries and territories.
On 17 April, it was confirmed that the border closure introduced in the Bahamas in March, and due to expire in mid-April, has been extended. The border closure affects citizens of 120 visa-exempt countries and territories.
On 21 April, authorities in Haiti extended the country’s nationwide health emergency, including the closure of all air, land, and seaports until 19 May 2020. Previously, all but 9 countries benefitted from visa-free access to Haiti for a period of 3 months.
On 22 April, Jamaica enforced stricter curfew measures and extended the closure of the country’s borders until 31 May 2020. Additionally, all airports and seaports remain closed to non-residents. The entry ban affects citizens of 106 visa-exempt countries and territories.
On 28 April, the Government of the Dominican Republic announced the extension its state of emergency, including the closure of all air and maritime borders until 17 May 2020. Before the travel restrictions, nationals of 108 countries and territories were able to visit the country for 90 days without a visa.
Named relevant countries: Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guyana, Mexico, Uruguay, United States, Venezuela.
On 1 April, Prime Minister Dean Barrow of Belize declared a state of emergency including the complete closure of all borders and ports of entry. Under the state of emergency, even citizens of Belize are prohibited from entering, except in medical emergencies. The border closures affect citizens of 107 visa-exempt jurisdictions.
On 1 April, Guyana extended the cancellation of all international passenger flights until at least 1 May 2020. Borders with neighbouring countries, and all seaports, remain closed. The restrictions affect citizens of 55 visa-exempt jurisdictions.
On 1 April, Uruguay closed its borders to all non-residents. The border closure affects citizens of 85 visa-exempt jurisdictions.
On 9 April, Venezuela extended flight suspensions to all countries. The suspension affects citizens of the following visa-exempt countries: all 27 European Union member states, Andorra, Belarus, Colombia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
On 14 April, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released guidance for foreign nationals present in the United States under the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP), stranded in the country with status expiration dates approaching. The guidance stated that VWP entrants are not eligible to extend their stay or change their status, but should contact the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) – a component of DHS – which may grant a period of ‘satisfactory departure’ for up to 30 days at its discretion.
On 20 April, Chad Wolf, Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, announced on social media that the United States is extending its restrictions on non-essential travel across shared borders with Canada and Mexico for an additional 30 days until 19 May 2020.
On 17 April, authorities in El Salvador extended entry restrictions on non-resident foreign nationals. The entry ban does not apply to humanitarian aid flights. The ban affects citizens from 86 visa-exempt jurisdictions.
On 24 April, the President of Argentina, Alberto Fernandez, extended lockdown measures in the country until 10 May 2020. Under the lockdown, the country’s borders remain closed to all non-residents. Further, on 27 April, Argentina’s National Civil Aviation Administration announced the banning of ticket sales for commercial flights into and out of Argentina until 1 September 2020. The restrictions affect citizens of 90 countries who previously benefitted from visa-free entry to Argentina.
On 26 April, officials in Ecuador extended the nation’s COVID-19 restrictions until at least 3 May 2020. All individuals remain barred from entering the country via any air, land, or sea border crossing. The restrictions also apply to nationals of Ecuador. Previously, all but 25 countries were afforded visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to Ecuador.
On 28 April, authorities in Costa Rica announced that existing travel restrictions will remain in effect until at least 15 May 2020. Hence, all air, land, and sea entry ports will remain closed to non-resident foreign nationals. The entry ban affects citizens of 97 visa-exempt jurisdictions
On 29 April, authorities in Bolivia extended the country’s lockdown measures until 10 May 2020. Under the lockdown, Bolivia’s land borders remain closed to all non-resident foreign nationals and all international passenger flights remain suspended. Authorities estimate that travel restrictions will be in place until at least 30 May 2020. Previously, citizens of 49 countries and territories were able to enter Bolivia without a visa for a stay of up to 90 days.
On 29 April, Chile extended its travel restrictions for non-resident foreign nationals. Before the entry ban, citizens of 93 jurisdictions were able to visit Chile for up to 90 days without a visa.
On 30 April, officials in Brazil extended the country’s entry ban on all non-resident foreign nationals, with the exception of those in transit, until at least 28 May 2020. Additionally, land borders remain closed to non-resident foreign nationals until at least 29 May 2020. The entry restrictions do not apply to humanitarian transport. Before the entry ban, citizens of 100 countries were able to enjoy visa-free access to Brazil.
Named relevant countries: Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates.
On 4 April, Gulf Air announced that transit through Bahrain International Airport is open again for international travellers, but entry to the country remains restricted to citizens and residents. The restrictions affect citizens of 120 visa-exempt countries and territories.
On 24 April, Prime Minister Hassan Diab of Lebanon announced that the Government plans to lift COVID-19 restrictions in the coming weeks. However, flights to Lebanon (with the exception of UN, diplomatic, and cargo flights) will remain suspended and all seaports will remain closed. The suspension affects citizens of 89 countries eligible for visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to Lebanon.
On 28 April, authorities in Iraq implemented a revised curfew and extended the existing suspension of domestic and international flights until 22 May 2020, with the exception of emergency and cargo flights. The suspension particularly affects citizens of Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates, who were previously able to obtain visas-on-arrival at specified ports of entry in Iraq.
On 29 April, Jordan eased some of its national COVID-19 restrictions. However, Jordan’s borders and airports will remain closed until at least the end of Ramadan on 23 May 2020. Before the closures, all but 59 jurisdictions benefitted from visa waivers and visas-on-arrival to Jordan.
Named relevant countries: Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, China, France, Georgia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Maldives, Moldova, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Seychelles, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan.
On 3 April, measures suspending visa exemptions for a number of countries entered into force in Japan. The suspensions affect holders of ordinary, diplomatic, or service passports from 35 countries, including India, Mexico, and the United Arab Emirates. On 21 April, Government sources indicated that the suspension will be in effect until the end of May.
On 6 April, Hong Kong announced the extension (until further notice) of its entry restrictions on all non-Hong Kong residents arriving by air from any location other than mainland China, Macao, and Taiwan. Residents and non-residents arriving from mainland China, Macau, or Taiwan with no overseas travel history in the last 14 days are subject to a mandatory quarantine period. As of 30 April, however, quarantine measures were waived for students, teachers, and individuals engaged in economic activity beneficial to Hong Kong arriving from mainland China.
On 8 April, the Prime Minister of Thailand signed a proposal permitting foreign nationals whose visas expired after 26 March to stay in Thailand without the need to apply for an extension. The measure also applies to those who legally entered Thailand without a visa or with a visa-on-arrival. On 24 April, a three-month extension was printed in the Royal Gazette, extending the period of permitted stay until 31 July 2020. Later, on 27 April, the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand announced the extension of the ban on international passenger flights to Thailand until 31 May 2020. Exceptions to the ban exist, however, including flights carrying humanitarian aid, medical and relief flights, and repatriation flights. The travel suspension affects citizens of 64 visa-exempt countries.
On 12 April, authorities in Tajikistan announced a ban on the entry and exit of all foreign nationals, with the exception of diplomats and representatives of international organisations, as well as their family members. The entry restrictions affect citizens of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan, who were previously eligible for visa-free access to the country.
On 13 April, South Korea temporarily suspended visa waivers with countries imposing entry bans on citizens of South Korea. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice jointly announced that the measure applies to at least 88 countries to which South Korea normally grants visa-free entry, including Australia, Canada, France, Russia, and Singapore. The suspension does not apply to holders of diplomatic and service passports.
On 16 April, the Government of Kazakhstan issued a draft decree proposing the continuation of the temporary suspension of visa waivers for nationals of China and India until 1 November 2020. Prior to the suspension, originally set to be in place until 1 July 2020, Chinese and Indian citizens were eligible for a 72-hour transit visa waiver to the country. Further, on 27 April, officials announced the extension of the country’s state of emergency until 11 May 2020, under which the entry of all foreign nationals is forbidden and nationals of Kazakhstan are prohibited from leaving the country.
On 17 April, the Government of Cambodia extended its suspension of visa issuance indefinitely. The visa suspensions include visa exemptions and visa on arrival services.
On 17 April, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Laos announced the extension of its visa suspensions for all nationals until 3 May 2020, including those eligible for visa-free access to Laos and visas-on-arrival. Previously, visa and exemptions and visas-on-arrival were granted to citizens of all but 32 countries.
On 17 April, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Taiwan announced an additional 30-day extension of visas for all foreign nationals who entered Taiwan before 21 March. The extension applies to those with visa-free entry and visas-on-arrival.
On 17 April, Turkmenistan updated its entry restrictions to the effect that flights to the country are suspended until 20 May 2020. The suspensions do not apply to repatriation flights of nationals and residents of the country. The restrictions affect citizens of all countries who were previously able to transit through Ashgabat International Airport without a visa.
On 18 April, Azerbaijan extended its lockdown measures until 4 May 2020. Under the measures, the country’s borders with Georgia and Iran remain closed. A suspension on all commercial passenger flights arriving into and departing from Azerbaijan also remains in effect. This affects citizens of 11 visa-exempt countries, including citizens of Georgia and Iran.
On 20 April, the International Air Transport Association announced that Brunei had banned the entry of all foreign nationals to the country. Additionally, it was noted that all visa exemptions and visa-on-arrival facilities had been suspended, affecting nationals of 63 countries and territories.
On 22 April, the Indian Embassy in Washington DC announced that the Government of India had extended its suspension of the visa-free facility granted to OCI card holders not presently in India until 3 May 2020. Further, the Embassy stated that all scheduled international commercial passenger services to India would remain suspended until the same date.
On 23 April, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin of Malaysia announced the extension of the country’s Movement Control Order until 12 May 2020. The Order suspends all inbound and outbound international travel, with the exception of travel by resident diplomats and spouses and dependants of foreign nationals. It affects citizens of 162 visa-exempt countries.
On 24 April, after suspending the entry and transit of all foreign nationals to the country, Indonesia implemented a ban on domestic and international air travel until 1 June 2020 and a ban on sea travel until 8 June 2020. Exceptions exist for cargo transport, repatriation flights, and travel by state officials, diplomatic staff, and representatives of international organisations. The ban affects citizens from 170 visa-exempt jurisdictions.
On 24 April, the Myanmar Department of Civil Aviation announced the extension of the suspension of all international flights until 15 May 2020. The suspension affects nationals from 12 visa-exempt countries and 13 visa-on-arrival eligible countries.
On 27 April, authorities in Sri Lanka revised the country’s lockdown restrictions. However the issuance of all visa types remained suspended and all inbound international passenger flights and international passenger ships was suspended indefinitely. The restrictions particularly affect citizens of the Maldives, Seychelles, and Singapore, all of whom were able to obtain visas-on-arrival to Sri Lanka at any port of entry.
On 27 April, the Government of Nepal issued a notice announcing the extension of international border closures until 13 May 2020 and the suspension of international flights until 15 May 2020. Additionally, the notice indicated that visa services, including the provision of visas-on-arrival, would remain suspended until 7 May 2020.
Named relevant countries: Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
On 3 April, Gambia extended its state of emergency for a period of 45 days. Under the state of emergency, the mutual border between Gambia and Senegal remains closed with the exception of the movement of essential services. Additionally, Gambia’s airspace remains closed to commercial travel. Previously, Gambia granted visa-free entry universally, with the exception of 35 countries and territories.
On 5 April, the Government of Ghana extended its border closures to all foreign nationals for an additional two weeks.
On 6 April, authorities in Kenya announced a 30-day extension to the nation’s ban on all international flights. Under the ban, only cargo flights will remain in operation and the land border between Kenya and Uganda will remain closed. The ban affects citizens of 43 visa-exempt countries, including citizens of Uganda.
On 13 April, the Government of Mauritius announced the extension of movement restrictions until 4 May 2020. The restrictions include a ban on foreign nationals that affects citizens of 180 countries who were previously able to obtain visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to Mauritius.
On 17 April, Algeria suspended all international flights to the country.
On 17 April, Benin extended existing health measures until 10 May 2020. Under the measures all individuals entering Benin by air must undergo mandatory quarantine for a 14-day period. The quarantine measures affect citizens of 55 visa-exempt countries.
On 17 April, President George Weah of Liberia announced the extension of Liberia’s state of emergency to 26 May 2020. Under the state of emergency, foreign nationals are barred from entering the country and land borders with Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Cote d’Ivoire remain closed. Previously, citizens of 14 countries, including Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Cote d’Ivoire benefitted from visa-free access to Liberia.
On 18 April, authorities in Burundi announced that the country’s suspension of international flights had been extended indefinitely, but that it no longer applied to cargo, medical, humanitarian, and diplomatic flights. The suspension affects citizens of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda, who were previously able to visit Burundi without a visa for up to three months.
On 18 April, a nationwide lockdown entered into effect in Malawi until 9 May 2020. Under the lockdown, foreign nationals are barred from entering the country. The entry ban affects citizens of 33 visa-exempt jurisdictions.
On 20 April, authorities in Burkina Faso updated the country’s existing state of emergency. The country’s primary airports remain closed to international passenger flights and all land borders and international rail services remain suspended. The travel restrictions affect citizens of 18 visa-exempt countries.
On 20 April, the Aviation Minister of Nigeria announced on Twitter that the country extended the closure of its airspace by a period of 14 days.
On 22 April, authorities in Lesotho extended the country’s lockdown until 5 May 2020. Under the lockdown, the country’s border with South Africa remains closed. Previously, citizens of South Africa were granted visa-free entry to Lesotho for stays of up to 90 days.
On 22 April, Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini of Swaziland announced the Government’s plans to extend lockdown restrictions, under which Swaziland’s borders will remain closed to non-resident foreign nationals. The closure affects citizens of 93 visa-exempt jurisdictions.
On 23 April, Morocco extended the suspension of all inbound and outbound flights until 31 May 2020, with the exception of emergency and cargo flights. The suspension affects citizens of 67 visa-exempt countries and territories.
On 24 April, authorities in Chad announced the extension of the country’s international flight suspension until 15 May 2020. The suspension affects citizens of 14 visa-exempt countries.
On 24 April, authorities in Cote d’Ivoire extended the country’s state of emergency until 8 May 2020. Under the state of emergency, flights to and from Cote d’Ivoire remain suspended and all land borders remain closed. The travel restrictions affect citizens of 23 visa-exempt countries.
On 26 April, President Umaro Sissoco Embalo of Guinea-Bissau announced a 14-day extension to the country’s state of emergency, under which all land and sea borders, as well as commercial air links, were closed. The state of emergency affects citizens of all countries that were previously eligible for visa-on-arrival access to Guinea-Bissau.
On 28 April, a presidential decree extended the state of emergency in Egypt until at least 28 July 2020. Under the state of emergency, flights to Egypt remain suspended, affecting citizens of 48 visa-exempt and visa-on-arrival countries.
On 29 April, authorities in Equatorial Guinea announced the extension of the country’s state of emergency, due to expire on 30 April 2020, until 15 May 2020. Under the state of emergency, officials suspended all commercial and private passenger flights indefinitely, with the exception of humanitarian and repatriation flights, and closed all land and sea borders. The restrictions affect citizens of Barbados, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, China, Gabon, the Republic of Congo, and the United States, who are all visa-exempt.
On 30 April, the Government of Cameroon announced a partial relaxation of its COVID-19 restrictions. Despite the relaxation, however, air, land, and sea borders remain closed and international passenger flights remain suspended. The suspension affects citizens of the following visa-exempt countries: the Central African Republic, Chad, the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Nigeria.
On 30 April, the President of the Republic of Congo, Denis Sassou Nguesso, announced the extension of the country’s lockdown until 15 May 2020. Additionally, he said that all air, land, and sea borders will remain closed until at least 10 May 2020, affecting citizens of 15 visa-exempt and visa-on-arrival eligible countries.
On 30 April, President Felipe Nyusi of Mozambique announced a 30-day extension to the country’s state of emergency, under which non-resident foreign nationals are barred from entering the country and the country’s borders remain closed. The travel ban affects citizens of Angola, Botswana, Cape Verde, Malawi, Mauritius, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, who were previously eligible for visa-free access to Mozambique.
Named relevant countries: Tonga.
On 17 April, authorities in Tonga extended the closure of the country’s borders until 12 June 2020, with the exception of humanitarian and repatriation flights. The border closure affects citizens of 33 jurisdictions eligible for visa-free access to Tonga.