‘Short-Stay Visa Waiver Agreement’ between The Bahamas and the European Community, signed on 28 May 2009
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is pleased to announce that today, 28 May 2009, at a Ceremony at the Council of the European Union in Brussels, Belgium, H.E. Mr. Paul H. Farquharson, Ambassador of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas to the European Communities (based in London), signed the “Short Stay Visa Waiver Agreement” between The Bahamas and the European Community. The Agreement would be provisionally applied as of 28 May 2009, and so with immediate effect, holders of valid Bahamian passports will be able to travel without a visa for short stays of up to three months to the following European Union countries which apply the Schengen agreement:
- Czech Republic
The agreement does not apply to Ireland or the United Kingdom. Bahamian passport holders may still travel to these countries without a visa for short stays up to six months.
This agreement does not apply to the Overseas Territories of either France or the Netherlands. Visa requirements for these territories have not changed.
The agreement does not yet apply to Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Visas will still be required for travel to these countries until further notice.
Switzerland has recently become a Schengen country; however, Bahamians are still able to travel to Switzerland for short stays without a visa.
Length of stay
Under current European Union rules regarding travel to the Schengen area, a short stay is defined as a stay not exceeding three months, within a six month period, following the first date of entry into the Schengen area as a whole. Stays are calculated on a cumulative basis within that six month period, including both the number of days stayed, and the number of Schengen countries visited.
This means that a visit to any one of the 25 countries is considered as a visit to all and will count towards the maximum three months stay within any six month period. This of course does not prevent persons from travelling to several of the countries on any one visit or from visiting Europe more than once in a six month period, but persons should be aware that all visits count towards the maximum three months stay within any six month period.
Bahamians who travel very frequently to Europe, and whose visits may potentially exceed three months within any six month period, should contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of the country to which they intend to travel in order to secure the necessary visas or permits.
For the time being, visits to Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania would be the exception to this, as Bahamian passport holders could make three month visits to each of these countries without it counting towards their overall three month allowance. This exception would fall away once these countries fully implement the Schengen Agreement.
Purposes of travel
For the purposes of this agreement, short stays are considered as visits for the following purposes:
- Business travel, e.g. conferences, meetings etc. [but not paid employment]
- Ad hoc sports activities, artists’ activities
- Journalism [media professionals sent by media organizations in The Bahamas]
- Intra-corporate training e.g. persons sent for training at European headquarters or branches of companies and organizations with branches in The Bahamas
The agreement does not cover students or persons seeking employment. These persons must continue to secure the necessary visas and permits for educational or employment purposes.
This information will be updated as further agreements are concluded and additional arrangements are put in place. In any event, Bahamian nationals should continue to check prior to travel with the nearest Embassy or Consulate of the country to which they intend to travel to ensure that they meet all conditions of entry and stay.