Georgian travelers attempting to fly into the EU or cross the land border without proper documentation will no longer be able to do so as of January 1, 2020 after the Georgian Parliament passed a bill allowing border guards to detect travelers who do so do not do, reject properly documented.
In the parliamentary session on September 2, in which the opposition parties did not participate, 74 MPs voted in the third reading for the “Law on the rules and procedures for the departure and entry of Georgian citizens,” reports SchengenVisaInfo.com.
The change gives border guards the right to reject Georgians who make at least one of the following statements:
- The passport was issued over ten years ago or is valid for less than three months.
- The traveler lacks a valid return ticket or a ticket reservation to leave the EU / Schengen area.
- Without proof of the accommodation reservation in the Schengen countries, the traveler remains.
- Lack of valid health insurance for the entire EU / Schengen area worth at least EUR 30,000 including repatriation in the event of death.
- Insufficient funds for the trip.
While a Georgian citizen has previously only had to present these documents upon arrival in his Schengen destination country, he must do so now before leaving Georgia.
The move was mainly taken due to the large number of undocumented Georgians entering the Schengen countries, for which the latter have requested the Georgian authorities to take concrete action to address the problem.
Georgians who have been able to travel visa-free to the Schengen area since 2017, when a visa liberalization agreement with the European Union came into force, have often violated visa-free entry requirements.
The Georgian Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani herself had already warned in April 2019 that the visa-free travel agreement with the EU had “some particular difficulties” after some Georgians had “abused the visa-free mechanism”.
In a report published by the EU Commission in July this year on the fulfillment of visa liberalization requirements by five Western Balkan countries, which benefit from visa-free entry to the Schengen area, and three Eastern Partnership countries, it was found that the number of Georgians submitted Unsubstantiated asylum applications remain a cause for concern.
The report called on these countries, including Georgia, to make further efforts to fully align with the EU’s visa policy.
While SchengenVisaInfo.com reported last November that most Georgians were still unaware of the requirements for visa-free travel at that point. The majority of respondents who took part in a survey conducted by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers on knowledge and attitudes towards the European Union in Georgia were only aware of the requirement for a biometric passport and the length of stay, but not the rest of the requirements.
Now the Georgian Ministry of the Interior must establish and publish the rules and procedures by January 1, according to which rejected travelers can appeal against the refusal to leave Georgia.