European Union – Short-Stay Visa Waiver Agreement with United Arab Emirates

European Union – Short-Stay Visa Waiver Agreement

On May 6, 2015, the European Union (EU) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed a historic short-stay visa waiver agreement. The new visa regime provides for visa-free travel for the citizens of the EU when travelling to the territory of the UAE and for the citizens of the UAE when travelling to the EU. The visa-free period is to cover ‘short-term stays’ allowing a maximum period of stay of 90 days in any 180-day period. Ireland and the United Kingdom will not be subject to the application of the agreement.

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On 6 May 2015, the European Union (EU) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed a historic short-stay visa waiver agreement in Brussels, Belgium, making the UAE the first Arab country to receive such a visa waiver for its nationals.1  Negotiations for the agreement were opened in November 2014.  Although it has not been formally approved by the European Parliament, the agreement applies provisionally from 6 May 2015.

The new visa regime provides for visa-free travel for the citizens of the EU when travelling to the territory of the UAE and for the citizens of the UAE when travelling to the EU.  The visa-free period is to cover ‘short-term stays’ allowing a maximum period of stay of 90 days in any 180-day period.  Ireland and the United Kingdom will not be subject to the application of the agreement, in accordance with the protocols annexed to the EU treaties.  The visa regimes for these member states remain subject to their respective national legislation.

WHY THIS MATTERS

Business travelers and their families traveling between the EU and the UAE may be positively impacted by the visa waiver; in many cases it will enable them to travel freely to each other’s territory without a lengthy, costly, and bureaucratic visa procedure.

It is also important that these travelers familiarize themselves with the restrictions and limitations of the visa-waiver.  For instance, the calculation of the permitted duration of stay and the restrictions for travel for the purposes of a paid-activity or any travel to a EU member state that is not subject to the agreement.

Waiver Agreement: Key Points

In order to benefit from visa-free travel, citizens from the EU and citizens from the UAE must be in possession of a valid passport.  UAE nationals also have to comply with other requirements for short-term stays in the Schengen area, such as travel health insurance, an explanation of the purpose of the trip, and proof of financing for living and travel costs.  The visa-free travel applies to all categories of persons and for any purpose of travel (for instance tourism, cultural visits, scientific activities, family visits, business, etc.). 

International Assignees

This visa-free travel does not apply for persons travelling for the purpose of carrying out a paid activity.  For such individuals, any member state of the EU and the UAE may impose visa obligations on each other’s citizens in accordance with EU or national law.

The parties have agreed that “persons travelling for the purpose of carrying out a paid activity” refers to any gainful occupation or remunerated activity as an employee or service provider. However, visa-free travel will apply for “business-persons” (persons travelling for the purpose of business deliberation but not employed in the country of the other contracting party) and “intra-corporate trainees”; the aforementioned categories are covered by the waiver. Employees traveling on a short-term international assignment may need to further enquire if they are visa-waived. 

Application in Overseas Territories of France and the Netherlands

In the cases of France and the Netherlands, the visa waiver only entitles nationals of the UAE to stay in their European territories, and does not cover their overseas territories.

Duration of Permitted Stay

  • Citizens of the EU may travel visa-free to the UAE for a maximum period of 90 days in any 180-day period.
  • UAE citizens may stay in the territory of the member states fully applying the Schengen Agreement for a maximum period of 90 days in any 180-day period.  That period shall be calculated independently of any stay in a member state which does not yet apply the Schengen Agreement in full.2
  • UAE nationals may stay for a maximum period of 90 days in any 180-day period in the member states that do not (yet) apply the Schengen Agreement in full (Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania), independently of the period calculated for the whole Schengen area.

KPMG NOTE

Special Position of Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein

It must be noted that these countries do not form part of the European Union and therefore are not covered by the agreement.  However, the EU and the UAE have taken note of the close relationship between the EU and Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein, particularly as these countries form part of the Schengen area.  The EU and the UAE have therefore expressed the desire that these countries will conclude bilateral agreements with the UAE on the short-stay visa waiver in terms similar to the agreement with the EU. 

Next Steps

The EU-UAE agreement will be sent to the European Parliament with a view to obtaining its consent before it can be enacted. 

However, the agreement will apply on a provisional basis as from 6 May 2015.

FOOTNOTES

1  For the text of agreement, see: http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-7103-2015-INIT/en/pdf.

2  For more on the calculation of days and background on the Schengen Area, see Flash International Executive Alert 2013-163 (9 December 2013).

CONTACTS

For further information or assistance, please contact your local GMS or People Services professional or one of the following immigration professionals with the KPMG International member firm in the Netherlands

 

Heleen Snieders

Tel. +31 88 909 3420

snieders.heleen@kpmg.com

 

Hillery Stjura

Tel. +31 88 909 1886

stjura.hillery@kpmg.com

 

Michelle Faber

Tel. +31 88 909 1837

faber.michelle@kpmg.com

 

Cherida Hooijer

Tel: +31 88 909 1887

hooijer.cherida@kpmg.com

The information contained in this newsletter was submitted by the KPMG International member firm in the Netherlands. 

© 2016 KPMG Meijburg & Co., a Netherlands partnership and a member of the KPMG network of independent firms affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss entity. All rights reserved.

Flash Alert is an Global Mobility Services publication of KPMG LLPs Washington National Tax practice. The KPMG logo and name are trademarks of KPMG International. KPMG International is a Swiss cooperative that serves as a coordinating entity for a network of independent member firms. KPMG International provides no audit or other client services. Such services are provided solely by member firms in their respective geographic areas. KPMG International and its member firms are legally distinct and separate entities. They are not and nothing contained herein shall be construed to place these entities in the relationship of parents, subsidiaries, agents, partners, or joint venturers. No member firm has any authority (actual, apparent, implied or otherwise) to obligate or bind KPMG International or any member firm in any manner whatsoever. The information contained in herein is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavor to provide accurate and timely information, there can be no guarantee that such information is accurate as of the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. No one should act on such information without appropriate professional advice after a thorough examination of the particular situation.

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