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Guyana, Maldives ink visa waiver, cooperation agreements

Holders of a Guyanese passport will now enjoy visa-free travel to the South Asian country of Maldives following the signing of an agreement between the nations.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Political Consultation and a Visa Waiver Agreement was inked by Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Hugh Todd and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the Maldives, Ahmed Khaleel, on Friday in New York. This was done on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Guyana’s Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Hugh Todd (R) signed a visa wavier and other agreements with the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the Maldives, Ahmed Khaleel on Friday

The MoU aims to promote and encourage political consultation between the two countries to strengthen relations and enhance communication and coordination on important international issues.
However, the Mutual Exemption of Visa Requirements Agreement will facilitate visa-free travel of citizens of both countries. The agreement allows for the exemption of visas for single or multiple entry for both countries’ nationals, for a period of 30 days.
Prior to this agreement, Guyanese passport holders required a visa upon arrival when travelling to the Maldives.
Immediately following the signing, the two Foreign Ministers engaged in a bilateral meeting, during which they discussed increased cooperation in areas including climate action and tourism.
During the discussions, the Maldivian State Minister expressed his gratitude to Minister Todd and the Government of Guyana for the commitment to enhancing the cooperation between the two countries and the desire to continue to explore new avenues for collaboration.

Guyana’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett along with the Foreign Ministers of Guyana and Maldives

Minister Khaleel also expressed hope that the signing of these agreements will deepen the engagements and facilitate greater people-to-people contact.
Also present during the signing and meeting was Guyana’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Carolyn Rodrigues Birkett.
Guyana and the Maldives established formal diplomatic relations on April 13, 1994, and have collaborated at the multilateral level on issues of mutual interest to Small States.
In July, the 2023 Henley Passport Index ranked the Guyana passport at number 59, with access to 88 visa-free destinations – an improvement from the number 64 ranking in 2022.
Guyana ties in the 59th spot with Jamaica and Bahrain but outperforms nations like Suriname, which is ranked 65; China, which came in at 63 and India, which is at the 80th position.
Outside of their Caribbean Community (Caricom) neighbours, Guyanese passport holders can enjoy visa-free travel to nations such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Fiji, Malaysia, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, and the United Kingdom, among others.
In other cases, Guyanese passport holders can benefit from a visa upon arrival in countries like Armenia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and others.
The Henley Passport Index is the original, authoritative ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa. The index is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) – the largest, most accurate travel information database – and enhanced by Henley & Partners’ research team.
Meanwhile, the Guyana passport is only projected to grow stronger as the Government forges deeper partnerships with nations around the world.
Only back in November 2022, the United Kingdom Government lifted the visa requirement for Guyanese passport holders. Reports are that Guyana is already in talks with Italy and Mexico on the possibility of visa-free travel.
Additionally, President Dr Irfaan Ali disclosed in July that at least five European countries have agreed to support Guyana’s bid for visa-free travel to Schengen countries.
In addition to obtaining visa-free travel status, the Guyanese Head of State had also said Guyana is working on having the Schengen visas processed more efficiently here. It was reported that a pressing issue for Guyana in its relations with Europe is the setting up of a local Schengen visa processing office. As it is, visas for Guyanese to travel to the EU still have to be processed in Suriname at the Netherlands Embassy.
Moreover, stakeholders including the local private sector – Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) – have been calling for Canada to also lift its visa requirement for Guyanese. This call was heightened in June after Canada announced visa-free travel for citizens from 13 countries including Trinidad and Tobago.
Former United States Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch told reporters in Georgetown earlier this month that there were no formal requests from local authorities for a similar lift on the visa requirements to travel to the North American nation.