BRUSSELS, Belgium, May 29, 2009 – Citizens of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, the Bahamas and St Kitts and Nevis are now able to travel to 25 countries in the European Union (EU) without a visa.
The four Caribbean nations were among six countries that yesterday signed a short-stay visa waiver agreement with the European Community (EC).
The agreement, which took immediate effect, allows persons from those Caribbean states, as well as Mauritius and Seychelles, to visit countries in the EU’s Schengen area – Portugal, Spain, France, Germany, Belgium, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Austria, Greece, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Malta, Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria – for up to three months in any six-month period without a visa.
About 800,000 European citizens travel to these countries every year.
The courtesy of non-visa travel is also extended to EU citizens travelling to the six countries that signed the agreement.
The agreement covers all categories of persons travelling for purposes of tourism, cultural visits, scientific activities, family visits, and business. However, it does not include persons travelling for the purpose of carrying out “a paid activity”.
EC Vice-President Jacques Barrot pointed out that these are the first ever visa waiver agreements concluded by Europe.
“I hope the visa-free travel will contribute to the improvement of people to people
contacts between the citizens of both parties,” he said.
Formal negotiations on the visa waiver agreements started almost a year ago – in July 2008. Each country held separate talks with the EU.