September’s Visa-Free Digest

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

ArmeniaGermanyOman
AustraliaHondurasPhilippines
AustriaIcelandPortugal
AzerbaijanIndiaQatar
BahamasIndonesiaRussia
BahrainIsraelSamoa
BelarusJapanSaudi Arabia
BelgiumJordanSerbia
BelizeKenyaSingapore
Bosnia and HerzegovinaKuwaitSouth Korea
BruneiKyrgyzstanSwitzerland
CanadaLiechtensteinTaiwan
ChinaMalaysiaThailand
ColombiaMaltaTogo
CroatiaMarshall IslandsTrinidad and Tobago
Czech RepublicMonacoTurkey
Democratic Republic of CongoNepalUkraine
DominicaNetherlandsUnited Arab Emirates
EnglandNew ZealandUnited Kingdom
FranceNigeriaUnited States
GeorgiaNorwayUruguay

Please note that due to the unexpected magnitude of the Covid-19 outbreak, countries across the world have implemented unprecedented travel restrictions. Many jurisdictions have implemented entry restrictions on individuals of any nationality who have recently been in, or transited through, certain countries. The countries taking such an approach include China, Nauru, Palau, Tonga, and the United States.


Europe

Named relevant countries: Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, the Bahamas, Bahrain, Belarus, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, England, France, Georgia, Iceland, Japan, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Malta, Monaco, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay

On 1 August, a visa waiver entered into effect in Ukraine, for citizens of Australia, Bahrain, Kuwait, New Zealand, Oman, and Saudi Arabia. The regime allows citizens of the six countries to remain in Ukraine without a visa for stays not exceeding 90 days in a 180-day period.

On 1 August, President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine signed a decree unilaterally abolishing tourist visas for citizens of China travelling to Ukraine for stays of up to 30 days within a 180-day period. The Ukranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has since announced that Ukraine is holding talks with China on the mutual abolition of visas.

On 13 August, a visa waiver agreement between Azerbaijan and Turkey entered into force, allowing citizens of the two countries to visit the other for stays of up to 90 days. The agreement was signed between the two countries in Baku on 25 February 2020.

On 21 August, a statement by the press service of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine revealed that, from 1 September, citizens of Ukraine will no longer be able to pass freely to Belarus using national passports or ID cards. On 1 September a Cabinet of Ministers resolution “On Partial Suspension of the Agreement between the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine and the Government of the Republic of Belarus on Visa-Free Travel of Citizens” entered into force, meaning that Ukrainian citizen now need an international passport to travel to Belarus.

Covid-19 Responses

On 5 August, the Government of Russia announced that Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin signed a decree lifting restrictions on the visa-free entry of foreign nationals to Russia for short-stay business trips. Holders of diplomatic or service passports from 35 countries with which Russia has visa waiver agreements are now able to travel to Russia visa-free one again.

On 6 August, the European Commission updated its Recommendation advising European Union Member States and all Schengen Area Member States, including the four Schengen Associated States (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland), to reopen external borders to residents of certain non-member countries. The updated list includes 11 countries, of which Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, and Uruguay benefit from visa-free access to the Schengen Area.

On 8 August, England removed Andorra, the Bahamas, and Belgium from its travel corridor list. Further, on 15 August, England removed France, Malta, Monaco, and the Netherlands from the list. On 22 August, Austria, Croatia, and Trinidad and Tobago were removed, as well as Czech Republic and Switzerland on 29 August. Persons arriving in England from these countries are therefore subject to a 14-day self-isolation requirement.

On 11 August, England added Brunei and Malaysia to its travel corridor list. Further, on 22 August, Portugal was added. Persons arriving in England from these two countries are therefore exempt from the 14-day self-isolation requirement.

On 12 August, Armenia lifted its entry restrictions on foreign nationals and officially reopened its borders. Upon arrival, all foreign nationals will be subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine period, which can be shortened if a negative PCR test is returned.

Caribbean

Named relevant countries: Dominica

Covid-19 Responses

On 7 August, Dominica reopened its borders to foreign nationals, subject to the presentation of a negative PCR test result recorded 24 to 72 hours prior to arrival and the completion of an online questionnaire at least 24 hours in advance of travel. Dominica allows nationals of any country except the Dominican Republic to visit visa-free.

Americas

Named relevant countries: Belize, Canada, Honduras

Covid-19 Responses

On 5 August, the Prime Minister of Belize announced via a virtual press conference that the reopening of the country’s borders was to be delayed until further notice due to a surge in Covid-19 cases. Borders were due to open to international tourism on 15 August. The border closure continues to affect citizens of 101 visa exempt jurisdictions.

On 17 August, authorities in Honduras reopened airports for international commercial flight operations. The reopening affects holders of passports from 83 jurisdictions who are able to visit Honduras for 90 days without a visa.

On 28 August, the Minister of Public Safety of Canada, Bill Blair, announced on social media that Canada’s existing international travel restrictions are to be extended until 30 September 2020. The restrictions continue to affect citizens of 54 visa exempt jurisdictions.

Middle East

Named relevant countries: Bahrain, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Nepal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates

On 21 August, Foreign Minister of Israel, Gabi Ashkenazi, and Ambassador of Nepal to Israel, Anjan Shakya, signed a visa waiver agreement for holders of diplomatic passports. The agreement allows diplomatic passport holders of the two countries to enter the other for 90 days visa-free.

On 21 August, Ambassador for the United Arab Emirates to the United States announced that the United Arab Emirates and Israel will start work on granting reciprocal visa access for tourists, students, and businesspersons.

Covid-19 Responses

On 1 August, Qatar eased its international travel restrictions, permitting the entry of travellers from 41 countries, of which 38 benefit from visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to Qatar.

On 4 August, authorities in Jordan announced that the resumption of international flights had been postponed indefinitely, despite having been planned to resume on 5 August. The decision to postpone was made based on a global increase in Covid-19 cases. Before the flight suspension, all but 59 jurisdictions benefitted from visa-free and visa-on-arrival access to Jordan.

On 5 August, authorities in Saudi Arabia reopened the country’s land borders with Bahrain, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates as part of measures to ease Covid-19 restrictions. Saudi Arabia’s land borders had been closed since 7 March.

Asia

Named relevant countries: Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, China, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Philippines, Serbia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States

Covid-19 Responses

On 5 August, Foreign Minister of Indonesia, Retno Marsudi, and Foreign Minister of Colombia, Blum de Barberi, signed a visa exemption agreement for ordinary passport holders. The visa waiver aims to increase tourism between the two countries after the Covid-19 pandemic subsides.

On 7 August, the Ministry of Home Affairs of India announced the restoration of full travel privileges for OCI card holders from France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States. OCI card holders are entitled to lifelong visa-free travel to India.

On 10 August, China commenced a phased reopening of its borders and now allows travel from a select list of European countries for persons holding valid residence permits, work permits, or permits for family reunion and personal matters. On this list are Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, countries whose citizens were previously eligible for visa-free access to China. China’s borders remain closed to all other countries.

On 12 August, the Government of Taiwan imposed a mandatory 14-day quarantine for arrivals from the Philippines, owing to the increase in imported Covid-19 cases from the country. For non-resident foreign nationals, the cost of the stay in the quarantine facility will be NT$1,500 (approximately US$51) per day.

On 13 August, Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal announced that the Nepalese Council of Ministers revised its original decision to resume international flights on 17 August, with international flights now expected to resume on 1 September.

On 15 August, the Government of Japan revealed that the gradual reopening of the country’s borders will start at the beginning of September. Tourists will be accepted in three stages: essential travellers under the first stage, students under the second stage, and general tourists under the third. Japan will initially reopen to nine countries, including visa-free countries, Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand. Visa exemptions currently remain suspended until at least 31 August, with the exception of nine countries (including Australia, New Zealand, and Taiwan).

On 21 August, Kyrgyzstan permitted the entry of residents from 31 countries. Passport holders of 28 of the 31 countries are able to travel to Kyrgyzstan on a visa-free or visa-on-arrival basis.

On 21 August, the Ministry of Health of Singapore announced that after monitoring the worldwide Covid-19 situation, Singapore will lift border restrictions for low-risk countries, starting with Brunei and New Zealand on 1 September. Persons travelling to Singapore who have been in Brunei or New Zealand for 14 days prior to entry will no longer be subject to a Stay-Home Notice if they test negative for Covid-19 on arrival.

On 28 August, Prime Minister of Malaysia, Muhyiddin Yassin, announced in a televised address that the Government has extended its ban on foreign nationals entering the country until 31 December. International borders remain closed and entry into Malaysia is only permitted for Malaysian nationals and foreign nationals holding certain categories of resident and employment passes. The entry ban affects citizens of 162 visa-exempt countries.

Africa

Named relevant countries: Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Nigeria, Togo

Covid-19 Responses

On 1 August, Kenya resumed inbound international flights, requiring passengers to produce a negative PCR test dated within three days of arrival. Passengers arriving from countries deemed low to medium risk are exempted from quarantine measures. On the same date, Kenya’s land borders with Tanzania and Uganda reopened. The reopening affects citizens of 43 visa-exempt countries, including Tanzania and Uganda.

On 1 August, Togo opened its air borders to international commercial flights, with passengers required to complete an online form prior to arrival, take a PCR test on arrival, and self-quarantine until the results have been received. Togo’s reopening affects citizens of 15 visa exempt countries.

On 15 August, the Democratic Republic of Congo reopened its land and air borders to international travellers. All visitors must present negative PCR tests no older than three days upon arrival and submit to temperature checks and testing.

On 17 August, Kenya resumed international passenger flights in and out of Nairobi. Of the 43 visa-exempt jurisdictions, 16 are required to undergo mandatory quarantine upon arrival. All arrivals must complete the ‘Travelers Health Surveillance Form’ online prior to arriving in Kenya.

On 29 August, airports in Nigeria reopened to inbound international flights. All incoming passengers must register prior to arrival on a Nigerian Government portal and are required to present a negative Covid-19 test and submit to mandatory quarantine. Nigeria’s reopening affects citizens of 17 visa-exempt countries.

Oceania

Named relevant countries: Marshall Islands, Samoa

Covid-19 Responses

On 26 August, the Government of Samoa suspended all international flights to the country and later announced that the country’s state of emergency had been extended until 27 September. Samoan citizens and residents are permitted to enter the country but must undergo mandatory testing and quarantine upon arrival. The flight suspension affects people from all over the world as Samoa allows all nationalities to enter on a visa-free basis.

On 30 August, the Government of the Marshall Islands announced that the current ban on inbound travel to the country, which was set to expire on 5 September, has been extended for 30 days until 5 October. The entry ban affects citizens of 96 jurisdictions who are eligible for visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to the Marshall Islands.