POND ISLAND–Legal residents of Anguilla who require a visa to enter St. Maarten will be encouraged to apply for the “Caribbean Carpet Visa” by the Governments of both St. Maarten and Anguilla to facilitate primarily the in-transit travel.
Anguilla residents rely heavily on Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) for international and regional flights. However, many, who may have “belonger status” or residence in Anguilla are confronted with issues when their in-transit stays exceed the regular 24-hour period.
Representatives of both governments, including Justice Minister Rafael “Raffie” Boasman and Anguilla Chief Minister Victor Banks, recently met in Philipsburg to find a solution to this quandary and were informed by officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs of St. Maarten that a programme called the “Caribbean Carpet Programme” was already instituted by the Dutch Government.
The programme caters to persons who regularly travel to the Caribbean parts of the Kingdom. It offers qualifying travellers a simplified application procedure and visa that is valid for a longer period for those who are over 18 years old, and regularly travel to Aruba, Curaçao, St. Maarten, Bonaire, Saba or St. Eustatius. Those travellers must have applied for a Caribbean visa at least two times in the past five years.
The visa also covers entrepreneurs who wish to do business or invest in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom. These applications must demonstrate their ties to a business in the region.
Those who work in the maritime sector, for example as a crew member on a ship, will need to provide a seaman’s record book or a contract with the ship’s owner when applying for the visa, according to Dutch Government website: www.netherlandsandyou.nl/travel-and-residence/caribbean-visas/caribbean-carpet-programme.
If applicants live in one of the Caribbean parts of the Kingdom and have a residence permit, work permit or “belongers” certificate, the Caribbean Carpet Programme makes it easier to visit the other islands.
Advantages of the Caribbean Carpet Programme are the need to only to be present at an embassy for the first application, visas will be valid for longer than normal: between one and four years, or until the holder’s passport expires and no proof of travel or accommodation reservations are needed by applicants.
For a first application, make an appointment at the nearest Dutch embassy or consulate-general. Any follow-up applications can be submitted by post along with required documents and a credit card consent form to the Dutch embassy or consulate in related region or to the regional support office: Regional Support Office Western Hemisphere, 4200 Linnean Avenue NW, 20008 Washington DC, United States.
For applications to the regional support office, applicants must include a self-addressed stamped envelope.