Schengen Visa Expansion – Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago: Visa free travel to Europe
Citizens of Trinidad and Tobago may now travel Schengen Visa free, for up to 6 months, to countries within the European Union (EU) and associated member states. So what does this mean for citizens and residents of Trinidad and Tobago and businesses?
Previously, Trinidad and Tobago citizens were required to apply for a Schengen Visa, from the appropriate embassy in their home country, in order to travel to European member states and associated member states, otherwise known as the Schengen Area.
The EU Parliament has recently approved proposals put forward by the European Commission in 2012 to add Trinidad and Tobago to the list of third countries whose nationals are exempt from Schengen Visa requirements.
As a result of the Schengen Visa waiver, citizens of Trinidad and Tobago may now travel to the following Schengen member states for up to 90 days in a 6 month period, as long as the purpose of the visit does not include paid activities.
Schengen member states:
Austria, Finland, Iceland, Malta, Slovenia, Belgium, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal, Czech Republic, Germany, Latvia, Norway, Spain, Denmark, Greece, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden, Estonia, Hungary, Luxembourg, Slovak Republic, Switzerland
* Switzerland is not part of the EEA except by special agreement. A work permit may still be required in certain circumstances.
In addition, citizens may also travel visa free to the three European micro-states, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City.
Does the Visa Waiver Scheme include the UK and Ireland?
The United Kingdom (UK) and Ireland do not form part of the Schengen Area. Nevertheless, citizens of Trinidad and Tobago are already entitled to travel to the UK and Ireland for short stays without a visa.
What are the benefits to citizens of Trinidad and Tobago?
Citizens of Trinidad and Tobago may travel to Schengen member states for as many times as they wish as long as their time there does not exceed 90 days and the purpose of travel is tourism or business or both.
Visitors to one of the European countries listed above will simply need to produce their original valid passport at immigration control.
The waiver covers all categories of travellers including tourists, business travellers and holders of diplomatic, service and special passports.
Charge d’Affaires of the European Union Delagation to Trinidad and Tobago, Daniela Tramacere, welcomed the signing of the Schengen Visa waiver agreement and hailed it as a great development. In a EU press release of 28 May 2015, Ms Tramacere said;
“We are pleased to be able to announce today that Trinidad and Tobago citizens can now travel to the Schengen countries in Europe visa free. We know that there are many who have been waiting for this development to plan their trips to Europe and we are happy to welcome them to visit. The doors to Europe are wide open.”
In addition, Trinidad and Tobago’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Winston Dookeran, felt that the benefits to the country’s citizens were immense in facilitating opportunities for travel and business.
Indeed, a relatively high number of citizens study in Europe and will be better able to maintain social or other links with those countries following their studies.
Overall, the removal of the visa obligation for short travel will make travel planning for citizens of Trinidad and Tobago easier, smoother, and more cost effective.
It is hoped that Trinidad and Tobago will reciprocate and reduce travel restrictions for travellers from Europe.
What constitutes business travel?
Citizens travelling to Europe may travel for tourism purposes or undertake permitted business activities. Such activities include:
• Attending business meetings
• Attending conferences
• Negotiating contracts and terms and conditions
However, what constitutes business activities in one member state or associated country may not be replicated in another. For instance, in France, Trinidad and Tobago citizens may travel to France to service, repair or install products but in many EU countries, such business activities would require work authorisation.
Please see our previous article for more details.
DavidsonMorris can advise on whether a work permit is most suitable.
What is not permitted?
Citizens from Trinidad and Tobago are forbidden from undertaking paid activities or work during their time in the Schengen member states and associated countries. Those intending to take up employment in Europe must apply for the appropriate work permit.
Can residents of Trinidad and Tobago benefit from the scheme?
Overseas nationals legally residing in Trinidad and Tobago but who are not citizens of the country will be required to obtain a Schengen Visa from the appropriate Embassy in Port of Spain, prior to their travel to Europe. Such residents will not be able to benefit from the visa waiver.
When applying for a Schengen Visa, overseas residents in Trinidad and Tobago will need to comply with the EU’s Visa information System (VIS). Under this scheme, residents’ biometric information (i.e fingerprints and digital photographs for adults and digital photographs for children under 12) will be recorded and stored for up to 5 years and accessed by countries within the Schengen area.
Has this been extended to other Caribbean countries?
Citizens of Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines may also travel to the Schengen member states and associated countries Schengen Visa free. Those countries join Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados and Saint Kitts and Nevis who were granted visa-free travel some years earlier.
Will the visa free travel be rolled out to other countries?
Other non-Caribbean nations expected to be allowed visa-free travel to the Schengen area include Pacific Islands (Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu) and Timor-Leste.
How we can help
At DavidsonMorris we have the experience to advise you on the most appropriate type of application for your individual circumstances and have the insight to make the application process as smooth as possible.
We have a professional team focusing on Global visas and work permits who manage the process effectively and efficiently from start to completion.