The Council of the European Union announced today that it had signed a short-stay visa waiver agreement with The Bahamas. The ceremony at the EU Council premises in Brussels also included similar signings with Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Mauritius, Saint Kitts and Nevis and the Seychelles

The agreement was signed by Helena Bambasová, Czech Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and President-in-Office of the Council of the EU and Jacques Barrot, Vice-President of the Commission with responsibility for Justice, Freedom and Security Matters, on the EU side; and Paul Farquharson, Ambassador and head of the Mission of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas to the European Communities.

The new visa regime provides for visa-free travel for EU citizens when travelling to The Bahamas, and for citizens of The Bahamas when travelling to the EU, for a period of stay not exceeding three months during a six-month period. Citizens concerned must be in possession of a valid ordinary, diplomatic or service/official passport.

The EU Council release noted that visa-free travel applies to all categories of persons and for any kind of purposes of travel (for instance tourism, cultural visits, scientific activities, family visits, business etc.) — except for persons travelling for the purpose of carrying out a paid activity.

The EU and all six countries will apply on a provisional basis the visa waiver agreements as from today, pending completion of the procedures for their formal conclusion. The European Commission adopted the decisions authorizing the signing and provisional application on April 6, 2009.