IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? The United Arab Emirates has signed new visa-free travel agreements with Switzerland and Ukraine.

What does the change mean? Swiss and Ukrainian nationals will be able to travel to the UAE for short-stay tourism and business trips without having to obtain a visa prior to travel. UAE nationals, likewise, will be able to travel to the Switzerland and Ukraine without first obtaining a visa. The agreements with Switzerland and Ukraine come after the UAE signed a visa waiver with the European Union in 2015. Neither Switzerland nor Ukraine are part of the EU.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing. Swiss nationals are already eligible to travel to the UAE without first obtaining a visa. Details have not been released on when Ukrainian nationals will be eligible for visa-free travel.
  • Visas/permits affected: Visit visas.
  • Who is affected: UAE and Swiss nationals traveling to each other’s countries; UAE and Ukrainian nationals traveling to each other’s countries.
  • Impact on processing time: The change will save travelers the time it takes to obtain a visa prior to traveling.
  • Business impact: Business travelers are among those covered by the agreements.

Background: The UAE exempts nationals of more than 50 countries and territories from visa requirements prior to travel. Qualifying nationals may travel to the UAE and obtain a visa stamp upon arrival that is valid for either a 30- or 90-day stay.

The agreements with Switzerland and Ukraine follow a landmark UAE-EU deal in 2015. The EU agreement recognized Switzerland’s “close relationship” with the EU and called on the UAE and Switzerland, among other countries, to conclude “bilateral agreements on the short-stay visa waiver in terms similar to those” between the UAE and EU. The countries have now done so, finalizing a visa-free travel agreement Oct. 31. Swiss nationals are eligible for stays of up to 90 days in a six-month period. The 90-day period does not reset upon leaving the country, meaning, for example, that a Swiss national who stays in the UAE for 30 days, leaves and returns to the country within the six-month time frame will have 60 days remaining before he or she must depart.

The UAE also signed an agreement with Ukraine, though few details are available at this point, including any details about how long Ukrainian nationals will be permitted to stay in the UAE and when the agreement will be implemented.

BAL Analysis: The new visa agreements will ease travel among UAE and Swiss nationals traveling to each other’s countries and among UAE and Ukrainian nationals traveling to each other’s countries.