Canada became the 39th country to grant Taiwanese visa-free privileges, effective yesterday, the Canadian Trade Office in Taipei (CTOT) announced on its Web site, a move that will save Republic of China (ROC) citizens precious money when traveling to the North American giant.
“Effective Nov. 22, 2010, holders of ordinary Taiwan passports that contain a personal identification number and are issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs [MOFA] in Taiwan no longer require a Temporary Resident Visa [TRV] to visit Canada,” the announcement said.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Yang (楊進添) called a press conference to welcome the inclusion of Taiwan in Canada’s six-month visa-waiver program and to express appreciation.
Ottawa’s decision to lift TRV requirements for ordinary Taiwanese was based on an evidence-based assessment and on the principle of balance between welcoming visitors to Canada and protecting the safety, security and health of Canadians, CTOT said.
Since 1994, Canadians have been exempted from visa requirements in Taiwan.
“This decision has both lowered the cost and increased the convenience for Taiwanese travelers who wish to visit Canada for tourism, to study, or to do business, and will boost Canada’s significant commercial, cultural and people-to-people links with Taiwan,” it said.
Under the visa-waiver program, holders of regular ROC passports can visit Canada for a period of up to six months for purposes other than working, CTOT said.
“The period of time a person is allowed to stay is determined by an Immigration Officer when arriving at a Canadian port of entry, and unless otherwise indicated, it is up to six months,” it said.
More than 150,000 Taiwanese are estimated to visit Canada every year, the seventh-largest source of foreign visitors. About 15,000 Taiwanese are studying in Canada.
Canada is the fourth most popular destination for Taiwanese studying abroad, following the US, the UK and Australia, the ministry said.
Inclusion in the visa waiver program will save Taiwanese a large sum on visa fees, which are estimated at between NT$374 million (US$12.3 million) and NT$450 million per year, Yang said. Single-entry visas cost NT$2,250, while multiple-entry visas cost NT$4,500.
Yang said Canada’s move demonstrates that the international community was generally recognizing Taiwan as a country whose people are law-abiding, courteous and civilized.
The ministry said a total of 40 countries or territories have now granted Taiwan visa-free treatment and ROC citizens could also enter 21 countries or territories on landing visas.
“Our passport is the one that our nationals can travel around the world with,” Yang said.
Negotiations on the visa-waiver program with the Canadian government did not involve the issue of importing Canadian bone-in beef, Yang said.
“We did not use the beef issue to exchange being granted visa-free treatment,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Falkland Islands also announced yesterday that it would grant ROC citizens visa-free entry for short-term travel.
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