EU visa-waiver scheduled to take effect next month

Staff writer, with CNA

Fri, Dec 17, 2010 - Page 1

Taiwanese will be able to visit the Schengen area of Europe visa-free from the middle of next month after the EU formally signed a bill to that effect.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement late on Wednesday that European Parliament Speaker Jerzy Buzek and Belgian Secretary of State for EU Affairs Oliver Chastel signed the bill on Taiwan’s inclusion in the visa-waiver program in Strasbourg, France, earlier in the day.


The signing in the European Parliament was a formality that marked another step toward Taiwan’s goal of acquiring wider visa exemption privileges for its passport holders, the ministry said.

The bill must now be translated into 23 official EU languages for publication in the EU Official Journal and will formally take effect 20 days after its publication, the ministry said.

The waiver means that Republic of China passport holders will be able to enter 35 European countries visa-free and stay for up to 90 days within a six-month period.

The exemption will apply to 25 Schengen Area countries: 22 EU members and three non-EU states — Norway, Iceland and Switzerland — and three non-Schengen EU states — Romania, Bulgaria and Cyprus. It also includes the Vatican, Monaco, Andorra, Liechtenstein, San Marino, Greenland and the Faroe Islands.


The exact date the visa-waiver bill takes effect will depend on when it is published in the Journal, the ministry said. Once it does, Taiwan will become the sixth Asian country to acquire EU visa-waiver privilege, it said.

The visa exemption drive took off in July when the European Commission submitted a bill to include Taiwan in the visa-waiver program.

The proposal then went through a 15-step process and cleared its last hurdle on Nov. 25 when the Council of the EU passed it unanimously without debate.

The EU move brings the number of countries and territories offering Taiwanese visa exemptions to 96, with 75 granting visa-waiver privileges and 21 others allowing travelers to obtain visas at their ports of entry.