More flexible visa rules for tourists and business travellers

Foreign business may soon be permitted to be preapproved into a special program that will guarantee their employees visas within three days of applying

A shake up of visa laws will allow business travellers, tourists and sailors to more quickly and easily receive visas to visit Denmark, according to the recommendations of a government working group.

The group, made up of representatives from the tourism industry, other businesses and the public sector, argued that Denmark would benefit from more flexible and less bureaucratic visa rules.

The justice minister, Morten Bødskov (Socialdemokraterne), agreed new visa rules would help Denmark attract trade, investment and tourism, which he said was particularly important following the financial crisis.

“Applicants who fulfil the requirements for visas today will continue to do so, it will just be faster and easier,” Bødskov said in a press release.

Currently, foreigners who apply for business visas are met with long lists of demands for documentation, such as marriage certificates and several years worth of salary slips.

If the changes become a reality, they will allow Danish embassies and consulates to pre-approve businesses for the so-called ‘Red Carpet programme’.

The employees of these businesses will be entitled to visas within three days, reduced demands for documentation, the opportunity to apply for visas without personally showing up at embassies and the opportunity to receive visas permitting several trips in and out of the country and for a longer period.

The trade and investment minister, Pia Olsen Dyhr (Socialistisk Folkeparti), argued that modernising visa rules would help make Denmark an attractive country for foreign partners and tourists.

“We want to make it easier for businesses to get their customers and partners to Denmark,” Dyhr said in a press release. “With the ‘Red Carpet programme’ foreign partners will be given the possibility of a faster and more flexible visa treatment. It will benefit Danish businesses in export markets and create jobs in Denmark.”

The goal of the new visa rules are to identify applicants who would ordinarily receive a visa and speed up their application process.

Applicants applying under Red Carpet rules will still have to satisfy the same visa requirements as before, however. For example, they may not have previously abused a visa and there should be no cause for concern that they intend to stay longer than permitted.

The working group also recommended that sailors be entitled to more flexible visas that allow them multiple entries over a period up to five years, as far as Shengen rules permit.

And tourists will also benefit, as consulates and embassies will be given greater powers to approve tourist visas, while applicants who make small errors in their application will face less strict sanctions.

The new rules were welcomed by the business lobby group Dansk Industri.

“It will challenge the idea that Denmark is a closed country,” spokesperson Sune K Jensen told Berlingske newspaper. “Allowing pre-approved businesses faster applications and lower demands for documentation is really significant. It will give businesses abroad the security to co-operate with Danish businesses.”

The government expects to be able to implement most of the new rules by autumn without changing existing laws.

In 2012, Danish authorities rejected 4.5 percent of the 95,190 visa applications they received.

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