Ukrainians to Start Traveling Visa-Free to EU Countries no Earlier than May 2015

Even though the European Parliament ratified the European Union-Ukraine Association Agreement, the country may not secure visa-free travel to the EU until early next year.

EU Ambassador to Ukraine Jan Tombinski said in May that Ukraine is “months away” from being able to travel freely to the 26 nations that make up the Schengen Zone within the EU by year-end.

However, deputy Foreign Minister Lana Zerkalova in an interview to Ukrainska Pravda website said Ukraine won’t get visa-free regime with the European Union countries until next May.

Even though many Ukrainian officials was hoping for visa cancelations starting Jan 1, Zerkalova says it’s more likely for Ukraine to get visa-free travel during the Eastern partnership Summit in Riga in May 2015.

The major obstacle for Ukrainians to travel free to the EU is shortage of biometric documents.  

Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers promised to start issuing biometric passports to Ukrainian citizens in January 2015.

But Oleksandr Sushko, an analyst for the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation, a Kyiv-based think tank, predicts “it may take up to five years to issue biometric passports,” adding that the demand will remain high even when visa-free travel comes into effect.

The State Migration Service officials promised to open offices in every Ukrainian oblast to publicize the information needed to get biometric travel documents.

Russia’s war against Ukraine, which has claimed the lives of more than 930 servicemen and 3,000 civilians, won’t affect the EU decision on granting visa-free travel to Ukraine, according to Zerkalova.

“Ukraine just need to make it clear for the EU that “not a single person who illegally comes from the eastern territory can’t get a Ukrainian passport and travel without visas to the EU countries,” Zerkalova was quoted as saying.


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