Posted on 19.03.2013 in Belarus, News

Cooperation with Latvia enables easier access to Polish visas in Belarus

Starting on March 18, inhabitants of the Vitebsk Oblast in Belarus (population approx. 350,000) travelling to Poland may apply for Schengen visas in the Consulate of the Republic of Latvia in Vitebsk.

This has been made possible thanks to an annex to the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Poland and the Government of the Republic of Latvia on mutual visa representation, signed in Riga on 13 February 2013 by Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski and Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs. The Vitebsk Oblast has one of the largest populations of people of Polish nationality in Belarus.

The Agreement applies to Schengen visas, i.e. those that enable the holder to enter and stay in the territory of the Schengen Area for no longer than 3 months within a 6-month period. It does not cover visas granted for the purposes of employment, study, or other activities that require a permit.

In 2012, Polish consulates in Belarus – located in Minsk, Brest, and Grodno – issued a record 350,000 visas to Belarusians. The MFA strives to issue the largest possible amount of visas, which is nonetheless difficult due to the limited number of consuls. Unfortunately, several requests to the Belarusian authorities to allow for more consuls have not yielded results. Moreover, a potential 1.1 million Belarusian citizens from the Brest and Grodno could gain the possibility of entering Poland and staying in the border zone in the event of the implementation of the Local Border Traffic Agreement between Poland and Belarus. The Polish side ended the ratification process for the agreement on 17 September 2010, when Polish President Bronisław Komorowski signed the document; unfortunately, an analogous notification has not taken place on the Belarusian side. Pursuant to the Polish-Latvian agreement, the following Polish diplomatic missions will issue visas: Polish Embassy in Baghdad (Iraq), Polish Embassy in Wellington (New Zealand), Polish Consulate General in Los Angeles (United States of America) and the Polish Consulate General in Sao Paulo (Federal Republic of Brazil). Apart from Latvia, Poland is also bound by visa representation agreements with five other EU countries: Estonia, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Sweden. This makes it possible to obtain Polish visas in global regions where Polish consulates are not present.

Source: MFA of Poland Press Office