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Brussels, 25 November 2010
Visa waiver for Taiwanese passport holders approved
Today, the Commission proposal on the transfer of Taiwan to the list of third countries whose nationals do not need a visa to travel to the EU has been adopted. Taiwanese passport holders will soon be able to enter the EU Member States without a visa for stays of up to 90 days. Today's adoption by the Council was the final step in the procedure towards the visa exemption, which has been preceded by the approval of the proposal by the European Parliament on 11 November 2010.
Commissioner Malmström said: "Today is a very important day for EU-Taiwan relations and I welcome the Council's decision giving the green light to our proposal. Waiving the visa obligation for Taiwan will facilitate people to people contacts, enhance business opportunities and give the possibility for them to get to know the EU better. Today's decision is the result of intensive and hard work for the authorities and the people of Taiwan in meeting the criteria requested to lift the visa obligation. I congratulate them for the great efforts made and the important results achieved. I am sure that the full reciprocal visa waiver will give a boost to the already good relationship between Taiwan and the EU in various sectors, such as tourism or trade, for the benefit of all parties''.
The EU is an important destination for Taiwanese travelling overseas, both for tourism or business purposes. The decision also fulfils the European business community long standing wish that will contribute to deepening trade and investment relations between both sides. The EU is Taiwan's fourth largest trading partner and its first foreign direct investor. Easier travel conditions will contribute towards strengthening economic relations as well as people-to-people contacts.
For instance, last year, more than 175 000 Schengen visas were issued in Taiwan and thanks to the visa-free regime, the number of visitors to the EU is now expected to increase by at least 30%.
Taiwanese wishing to visit the 25 Member States of the Schengen area or Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus up to 90 days e.g. on business, as tourists or family visitors will no longer require a visa. The short-stay visa waiver will not apply either to "overseas" passport holders, whose travel document does not contain an identity card number. Taiwanese visiting the Schengen area will also need to make sure that they meet the entry requirements when crossing the external borders of the EU as laid down in the Schengen Borders Code.1
Taiwanese wishing to stay in the Schengen area more than three months, or to live, work, marry or study there for longer than three months will need to obtain a national visa from the Member State concerned as before.
Furthermore, also as a result of the visa waiver process for Taiwanese, based on the principle of reciprocal treatment, as from 11 November 2010 Taiwan granted visa-free travel to the nationals of Romania, Bulgaria and Cyprus, who were subject to the visa obligation beforehand.
The visa waiver for Taiwanese passport holders will become effective 20 days after publication of the Regulation in the Official Journal of the EU. From that day onwards, EU citizens can stay in Taiwan for up to 90 days without requiring a visa.
Today's decision is also a response to the political support expressed by Member States for Taiwan's request to grant visa-free travel and it reinforces the coherence of the EU's policy in the region by aligning Taiwan on other third countries, like Singapore, Japan or South Korea, which already enjoy visa exemption.
Currently, the Schengen area includes 22 EU Member States and three associated States (Norway, Iceland and Switzerland). Once they enter the Schengen area, third-country nationals can move freely from one Member State to another for a maximum period of three months within a half year. The visa waiver will also apply to Romania, Bulgaria and Cyprus which are not yet members of the Schengen area.
For more information
Homepage of Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Home Affairs:
This covers the possession of the necessary travel documents; sufficient means of subsistence; justifying the purpose and conditions of their intended stay and return; and the condition that they are not considered to be a threat to public policy, internal security, public health or the international relations of any of the Member States, and in particular they are not persons for whom an alert has been issued either in the Schengen Information System (SIS) or in the national databases for the purposes of refusing entry.