MOFA gives visa-free warning

DON’T TRAVEL LIGHT::An official used the case of a man rejected by France despite Taiwanese having visa-free status there to urge tourists to carry supporting documents

Staff writer, with CNA

Fri, May 30, 2014 - Page 3

Although Taiwanese enjoy visa-free status when traveling to 36 countries in Europe, those planning a trip to these destinations should ensure they bring supporting travel documentation or risk being denied entry, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said yesterday.

Zhang Ming-zhong (張銘忠), the director-general of the ministry’s Department of European Affairs, made the remarks at a regular news conference following a recent string of incidents in which Taiwanese encountered problems with immigration authorities in Europe.

Earlier this year, a Taiwanese man trying to visit France was forced to return home without setting foot in the country because he was unable to present supporting documents upon arriving at a French airport, Zhang said.

The ministry says supporting documentation includes proof of lodgings in the country of arrival, a return or round-trip ticket, a travel itinerary, letter of invitation or proof of medical travel insurance.

Zhang said that because the would-be tourist to France could not present these types of documents, he was denied entry to the country, detained by the airport authorities and sent home.

He did not specify which documents the man had failed to provide.

A similar case was reported earlier this month, in which another Taiwanese man trying to enter France was detained by airport authorities, Zhang said.

The man was eventually allowed to enter the country after he presented the supporting documents requested by the French authorities, the foreign ministry official added.

In addition to carrying supporting documentation, Zhang also advised Taiwanese heading to Europe to purchase medical travel insurance because healthcare costs are relatively high there.

Separately, Zhang announced that the government has decided to grant visa-free status to citizens of Andorra and San Marino, as part of its efforts to strengthen ties between Taiwan and Europe.

Starting on Sunday, citizens of the two diminutive European countries can enter Taiwan without a visa and stay for up to 90 days, he said, adding that Taiwanese already have visa-free access to Andorra and San Marino.

The Principality of Andorra is a country of less than 500km2 nestled between France and Spain, while San Marino is a 61km2 enclave in Italy.

With the addition of Andorra and San Marino, the nation now offers visa-exempt treatment to a total of 45 countries, while Taiwanese passport holders enjoy visa-free or landing visa privileges in 140 countries and territories, according to the ministry.