Germany will open a permanent Schengen Visa application centre in Maldives on March 2, 2020, becoming the first Schengen State to do so.
Ambassador of Germany to Sri Lanka and Maldives, Joern Rohde, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid made the announcement at a joint press conference held at the ministry on Monday.
The ambassador and foreign minister highlighted that the presence of the Visa Facilitation Services (VFS) Centre in capital Male' will lessen the burden of Maldivians looking to travel to Germany, who currently need to visit the centres in Colombo, Sri Lanka or New Delhi, India, to obtain Schengen Visas.
Ambassador Rohde also revealed that in addition to the VFS Centre, the German embassy in collaboration with the foreign ministry will hold a temporary biometric visa clinic from February 3-5 next year, to issue visas for Maldivians participating in ITB Berlin, the world's largest tourism trade fair.
"The opening of the visa application centre is an indication of the close relations between Maldives and Germany", said Ambassador Rohde as he spoke of the German government's interest in furthering ties in the areas of trade, business and tourism.
Highlighting that the number of German tourists to Maldives are expected to reach 140,000 by the end of 2019, Ambassador Rohde expressed confidence that travel between the two countries will further increase with the VFS Centre.
Minister Shahid revealed that the government has been in talks with Germany and other members of the European Union to facilitate a permanent solution for the issues Maldivians face in obtaining visas.
"Although the VFS Centre will initially cater to only those travelling to Germany, it is our hope that other EU countries will partner with VFS", he said.
"In the long-term, the Maldives is seeking on-arrival visa for Maldivians travelling to EU countries".
The minister added that the Maldivian government has already commenced discussions with the EU, further noting that 84 countries already provide on-arrival visas to Maldivians, including the United Kingdom.
The island nation signed visa waiver agreements with the United Arab Emirates, Russia, Morocco and Thailand this year, and expanded its visa arrangements with the neighbouring countries of India and Sri Lanka.