Taiwan suspends trial of visa-free entry for Russians

09/16/2022 11:17 PM
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Pixabay photo for illustrative purpose only
Pixabay photo for illustrative purpose only

Taipei, Sept. 16 (CNA) A trial program introduced in 2018 to offer Russian passport holders visa-free entry to Taiwan has not been extended after it expired on July 31, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) told CNA Friday.

Russia was part of a trial MOFA program that granted visa-free entry to citizens from four countries, including Thailand, Brunei, and the Philippines, in 2018.

The program was extended several times since then. However, in the latest extension announced in July, which extended the trial to July 31, 2023, Russia was excluded from the program, according to MOFA.

The three latter countries are still part of the visa-free entry trial program, but which in practice is not applicable due to Taiwan's COVID-19 border control restrictions.

Russia, Thailand, Brunei, and the Philippines are not eligible for visa-free entry to Taiwan, according to a list updated on Sept. 6 by the Bureau of Councilor Affairs of countries that could enjoy visa-free entry privileges from Monday.

Taiwan suspended visa-free privileges for all foreigners, except those who hold residency in Taiwan, in March 2020 amid the rapid spread of COVID-19.

This year Taiwan began phasing out some of its restrictions, including reintroducing visa-free entry for citizens of its 14 allies, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and several European countries, as most countries around the world have relaxed travel restrictions over the disease.

Other countries that are still not eligible under the updated border rules include Chile, Dominican Republic, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Nicaragua, Singapore and Malaysia, all of which offered Taiwanese visitors a landing visa or visa-free entry before the pandemic.

MOFA told CNA that the visa-free access was offered to Russians on a trial basis to promote tourism and bilateral trade ties, and it was reviewing the implementation of such measures.

Although Russian citizens had enjoyed visa-free entry to Taiwan under the trial program, Taiwanese people still need to apply for a visa before traveling to Russia, according to the website of the Russian representative office in Taipei, which handles consular affairs in lieu of formal diplomatic ties between the two countries.

(By Novia Huang and Kay Liu)

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