Many people have asked me to explain the Schengen Agreement and how does it affect Andorra. In a nutshell if as a foreigner (A foreigner is any person who requires a Schengen Visa to enter the EU) you have a right to live in Andorra (residency, passive residency), or a right to work in Andorra (work permit) then for the purposes of a Schengen Visa you will have the same rights as a foreigner resident in Spain or France. ( I will explain this later)
However, you must first get to Andorra to apply for these permits, and Andorra is landlocked by France and Spain. Andorra is not part of the principle Schengen Agreement therefore you must first land in France or Spain (Schengen) and then leave Schengen for Andorra. Legally therefore to leave Andorra you need another entry visa to get back into Schengen, thus on paper requiring a multiple entry visa on entry to Andorra. In practice, border controls between Andorra, France and Spain do exist but rarely if ever are you asked for travel documents, so in practice a single entry visa may suffice, but don't turn up in a vehicle registered in Eastern Europe etc !!
In January 2011 one potential passive resident applicant on a single entry visa was unluckily stopped by a random border check on a bus from Barcelona to Andorra and was refused entry. This is extremely rare, in fact the first time I have heard of this and even for some officials in Immigration the next day when I went to point out the that Andorra was shooting themselves in the foot turning away people who were on their way to invest in the country! I have since agreed a way forward as discussed above, but beware of the risks of a single entry visa.
I should add at this stage that non EU persons applying for work permits must have in their passport a valid multiple entry Schengen visa, but for passive residency this does not appear to be a requirement for the catual processing of the application once in Andorra..
So what does the actual law say on Schengen ?
The Schengen Area comprises the territories of twenty-five European countries that have implemented the Schengen Agreement signed in the town of Schengen, Luxembourg, in 1985. The Schengen Area operates very much like a single state for international travel purposes with border controls for travellers travelling in and out of the area, but with no internal border controls.
Now when the Schengen Treaty was signed, Andorra amongst others would need to have agreements with Schengen for obvious reasons, such as being landlocked by France and Spain and requiring access to the outside world. As far as Andorra is concerned the agreement was made with France and Spain in 2000 and for those researchers I quote:-
"Décret n° 2003-740 du 30 juillet 2003 portant publication de la convention entre la République française, le Royaume d'Espagne et la Principauté d'Andorre relative à la circulation et au séjour en Principauté d'Andorre des ressortissants des Etats tiers, signée à Bruxelles le 4 décembre 2000 (1) "
In this Accord the three signatories state:-
"The French Republic, the Kingdom of Spain and the Principality of Andorra
Taking into account the particular geographical situation of the Principality of Andorra and the historical links between the three states;
Considering the desire to maintain the quality of existing relationships, inherited from history, reasserted in the Treaty of Good-neighbourliness, friendship and cooperation between the three states of 1 and 3 June 1993;
Taking also into account the agreements on the abolition of checks at common borders existing between the French Republic, the Kingdom of Spain and other States;
Wishing to regulate the procedures of movement and residence of foreigners traveling to the territory of Andorra;
have agreed as follows:....
...."The system of entry and movement in France and Spain of foreigners holding a residence permit of Andorra is identical to that applied to foreigners holding a French or Spanish residence permit ....."
That accord treats foreign residents of Andorra on the same terms as if they were foreigners resident in Spain or France.
The following links detail the agreement in full, I can only find original texts in French and Spanish:-
So having established the equality with foreign residents of France and Spain in this accord, let's go back to the principle Schengen Agreement to see what provisions there are for foreign residents in France or Spain.
It is clear from Schengen Treaty research that foreigners accepted as residents of France or Spain are entitled to unlimited entry and exit from those countries, and by extension of the Accord with Andorra, the same should apply to holders of a residency permit in Andorra. The accord is only with France and Spain and for travel into other Schengen states the treaty says:-
" Foreigners who are holders of a residence title of a Schengen state may freely enter into and stay in any other Schengen state for a period of up to three months. For a longer stay, they require a residence title of the target member state. "
That appears to be the legalities, at least in as far as France and Spain are concerned.
I have been asked whether arriving in Schengen from outside and transiting say Frankfurt you would need a transit visa, and with this accord does visa free entry into Schengen actually only apply to entry via France or Spain. The other question arises if a subject with andorran residency travels from Andorra to Austria for example, is that subject allowed to leave via an airport in Austria ? It appears that this accord creates questions.
I know from first hand experience that entry to Europe via France and Spain has not been a problem when you produce your Andorran residency permit. I have also been informed that difficulties do arise if trying to enter Europe via another Schengen country.
Unfortunately in practice when travelling to the Schengen states from all over the world, how many airline check in staff, supervisors, Immigration officials have ever heard of Andorra, let alone the Accord with France and Spain !! In my experience Air France is notorious for refusing flights, and in those problems which were encountered the Spanish authorities could not help enough even though it was not their problem !
My opinion (which should not be construed as legal advice) in practice then is once accepted as a resident in Andorra, you are legally exempt from the Schengen visa requirements for entry and exit into and from France and Spain (bear in mind the 90 day rule of visiting another schengen country, although with open borders that may safely be ignored), but that when you travel outside Schengen and to get back "home" to Andorra, carry with you a copy of the Accord between France Spain and Andorra, and your residents permit, and really just insist on your rights in all your dealings with foreign airline and Immigration officials that you encounter.
I hope this goes some way to explaining Andorra and Schengen. Once again this is another advantage of passive residency for those outside the EU who would normally require Schengen visas to enter Europe, but please seek legal advice first in your domicile country if your purpose of seeking andorran residency is for visa free travel to and from Europe.
As at 23rd February 2011, I have requested and obtained a solution to circumvent the requirement for multiple entry Schengen visas required to enter Andorra. Applicants for passive residency in Andorra who may have difficulty in obtaining multiple entry Schengen visas in their country of origin may now follow a new system which will ensure entry to Andorra. Please note that this exemption is only availble to those applicants who are proceeding here for actual processing, and does not extend to preliminary visits. Nevertheless it is step forward especially as the dates of some documents can be crucial to processing.
Solution found with Immigration for passive residency applicants to enter Andorra with single entry Schengen visa please contact me...