Hassle Free Travel

In the Grand Anse Declaration, Heads of Government agreed that from December 1990 all CARICOM nationals should be free to travel within the Community without the need for passports.

The overwhelmingly popular support for this decision was conveyed to the West Indian Commission time and time again throughout its consultations and as a result, the issue of hassle-free travel was identified by the Commission in its 1991 Progress Report, as one of the six areas for immediate action.

Hassle Free Travel refers to the freedom of CARICOM nationals to travel "into and within the jurisdiction of any Member State without harassment or the imposition of impediment".  This is intended to foster a greater sense of community.  It is also designed to encourage greater intra-CARICOM tourism.

Implementing hassle free travel has not proven as easy as might be expected, however, given the need to reconcile the differing requirements within Member States (between the immigration and tourism departments, for example) and among Member States. The forms of identification that are acceptable to some Member States include: travel permits; ID cards with photographs; birth certificates; and, drivers’ licences. However, among the countries which accept these forms of identification, limits are still imposed with respect to the specific countries whose nationals will be allowed to use the facility.

Two accompanying elements of hassle free travel are the use of common embarkation and disembarkation cards (E/D Cards), i.e.  the forms which all persons entering Member States are required to complete (commonly referred to as immigration forms/cards), and the establishment of common lines at ports of entry for citizens, residents and CARICOM nationals. These lines are in place in all Member States apart from The Bahamas and Trinidad and Tobago. In The Bahamas, people entering the country are free to use any line while in Trinidad and Tobago, there are specific lines for CARICOM nationals.

CARICOM Passport

Heads of Government agreed to the issuance of a CARICOM passport by Member States as a defining symbol of regionalism. The introduction of the CARICOM passport is also part of the measures to promote hassle-free travel for CARICOM nationals.

A CARICOM passport is a National passport which is being issued in accordance with an agreed format for intra-regional and extra-regional travel.

On the cover it will have the logo of CARICOM and the words "Caribbean Community". The Coat of Arms and the name of the Member State are also featured on the cover.

The CARICOM passport also creates awareness that CARICOM Nationals are Nationals of the Community, as well as a specific country. 

In 2005, Suriname was the first Member State to have issued the CARICOM Passport (7 January 2005), followed by St Vincent and the Grenadines (20 June 2005), St Kitts and Nevis (25 October 2005) and Dominica (14 December 2005).  Antigua and Barbuda,  issued the new Passport on 16 January  2006.

On 16 January 2007, Saint Lucia became the sixth Member State to have introduced the Passport, followed by the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago on 24 January 2007.   Grenada introduced the CARICOM Passport on 29th January 2007.

Guyana introduced the CARICOM Passport on 13 July 2007, and Barbados on 1 October 2007.  Jamaica and Belize  introduced the CARICOM Passport on 2 January 2009 and  16 March 2009 respectively.

As a result, all twelve Member States participating in the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) are now issuing the CARICOM passport.

(19 March 2009)

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