EU signs visa waiver agreement with four OECS countires

The European Union today, 28 May, signed short stay visa waiver agreements with Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines as well as Trinidad and Tobago. This allows citizens of these countries to visit all EU Member States, except the United Kingdom and Ireland for up to 90 days within a six month period without requiring a visa, as long as the purpose of the visit is not to carry out a paid activity. Dominicans, Grenadians, St. Lucians and Vincentians already enjoy visa free travel to the UK and Ireland.

The agreements were signed during the EU-African Caribbean and Pacific Ministerial Meeting taking place in Brussels and will be applied from the date of signature. The new signatories are additions to the four other Caribbean Countries – The Bahamas, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, along with St. Kitts and Nevis – which were granted visa waiver status in 2009 by the EU.

Head of the EU Delegation to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Ambassador Mikael Barfod welcomed the signing and said: "The signing of the visa waiver agreement removes the stress and hassle for nationals of these countries in seeking to obtain a visa each time they have to travel to Europe. In some instances they have to leave their country to go to another to obtain the visa. The European Union is happy to extend such a courtesy to these countries in an effort strengthen our people to people contact."

As regards France and the Netherlands, the visa-free travel shall apply only to the European territory of these Member States. The visa regime between the overseas territories, including those in the Caribbean, of these Member States and the countries granted visa waiver status remains subject to bilateral arrangements between the countries concerned or to national legislation.

The EU Member States that allow visa free access are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia,  Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden.

A declaration attached to the Visa Waiver Agreement states that it would be desirable that the authorities of Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein (as non EU members of the Schengen Area) conclude with the Caribbean countries without delay, similar bilateral agreements on the short-stay visa waiver.

More information about the Schengen visa can be found on the website: http://www.schengenvisainfo.com/.  You may also visit the website of the EU Delegation to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean at: http://www.eeas.europa.eu/delegations/barbados/eu_travel/visa/index_en.htm.