Germany will be opening a new permanent German Schengen Visa application center in Maldives on March 2nd, 2020. A Temporary visa application clinic was help on February 3rd and 4th to aid people wishing to gain short-term visas to Germany and the Schengen Area until the permanent center opens. The center will be located in the capital city of Male’.
The German government holds interest in furthering ties with Maldives in the areas of trade, business, and tourism.
“The opening of the visa application center is an indication of the close relations between Maldives and Germany,” said Ambassador of Germany to Sri Lanka, Joern Rohde.
Germany is set to become the first Schengen state to operate a permanent visa application center in Maldives. The project is organized by the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Maldives and the Maldivian Foreign Affairs Ministry.
Maldivian Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid has high hopes for the future of the new development.
“Although the VFS [Visa Facilitation Services] Centre will initially cater to only those travelling to Germany, it is our hope that other EU countries will partner with VFS.” He added that “In the long-term, the Maldives is seeking on-arrival visa for Maldivians travelling to EU countries.”
The country is currently making a big effort to encourage and facilitate tourism. Maldives already has on-arrival visa agreements with 84 different countries, including the United Kingdom. Just in 2019 the country signed visa-waiver agreements with the United Arab Emirates, Russia, Morocco, and Thailand. It also expanded its visa agreements with neighboring countries Sri Lanka and India.
Until the permanent visa application center is opened, citizens of Maldives have to travel to other countries in order to apply for their visas. A small island country relatively far from any other state, citizens would have to travel to centers in Colombo, Sri Lanka or New Delhi, India, or simply wait for a temporary clinic or consulate to apply.
Maldives is a popular tourist destination for Germans, as the number of German tourists was expected to reach 140,000 in 2019. Interest in travel to Maldives isn’t just limited to Germans though, as it as attractive to other nationals from around the world as well. The total number of tourists that visited Maldives in 2019 was 1,702,831. That’s nearly twelve-times the population of the country, which is around 144,000.
Despite ETIAS being scheduled to launch on January 1st, 2021, a permanent visa application center in Maldives may still be necessary. ETIAS is an online-only program that will allow people to apply for their Schengen visas without having to visit a European consulate or embassy in person.