SAARC Visa Exemption Scheme

Regional Centres


Since 1989, a number of Regional Centres with specific mandates have been established to strengthen and promote regional cooperation. The Regional Centres implement programme activities and are expected to evolve into Centres of excellence in their respective areas. These Centres are managed by Governing Boards comprising representatives from all the Member States, SAARC Secretary-General and the Ministry of Foreign/External Affairs of the Host Government. The Director of the Centre acts as Member Secretary to the Governing Board, which reports to the Programming Committee.


 SAARC Agriculture Centre (SAC), Dhaka


This center was stablished in 1989 with the mandate to provide timely, relevant and universal access to information and knowledge resources to all the agricultural practitioners of the SAARC Member Countries to achieve their respective goals through networking agricultural knowledge and information systems by adopting the appropriate information and communication technologies, management practices and standards.


SAARC Energy Centre (SEC), Islamabad


This center was stablished in 2006 with the mandate to envision as a catalyst for the economic growth and development of the South Asia region by initiating, coordinating and facilitating regional as well as joint and collective activities on energy. SEC would provide technical inputs for the SAARC Working Group (and other) meetings on Energy, and will facilitate accelerating the integration of energy strategies within the region by providing relevant information, state-of-the-art technology and expertise.


SAARC Cultural Centre (SCC), Colombo, Sri Lanka


This center was stablished in 2009 with the mandate to promote regional unity through cultural integration and intercultural dialogue and contribute towards preservation, conservation and protection of South Asia’s cultural heritage within the framework of the SAARC Agenda for Culture.   


SAARC Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS Centre (STAC), Kathmandu


This center was stablished in 1992 with the mandate to prevent and control Tuberculosis in the region by coordinating efforts of the National TB Programmes of Member States; exchange of information, research, capacity building and implement activities; collects, collates, analyses and disseminates information on the latest developments and findings in the field of tuberculosis in the region and elsewhere.


SAARC Disaster Management Centre (SDMC), India


This Centre was re-established in November 2016 for expanded role by merging four erstwhile SAARC Centres viz. (1) SAARC Disaster Management Centre (SDMC – New Delhi, India); (2) SAARC Meteorological Research Centre (SMRC – Dhaka, Bangladesh); (3) SAARC Forestry Centre (SFC – Thimphu, Bhutan); (4) SAARC Coastal Zone Management Centre (SCZMC – Male, Maldives) with the mandate to support Member States in their Disaster Risk Reduction initiatives through application of Science & Technology, knowledge from multiple disciplines, exchange of best practices, capacity development, collaborative research and networking in line with the Global Priorities / Goals and other relevant frameworks adopted by Member States.

The SAARC Visa Exemption Scheme was launched in 1992.  The leaders at the Fourth Summit (Islamabad, 29-31 December 1988), while realizing the importance of having people to people contacts, among the peoples of SAARC countries, decided that certain categories of dignitaries should be entitled to a Special Travel document, which would exempt them from visas within the region. As directed by the Summit, the Council of Ministers regularly kept under review the list of entitled categories. 


Currently, the list included 24 categories of entitled persons, which include Dignitaries, Judges of higher courts, Parliamentarians, Senior Officials, Businessmen, Journalists, Sportsmen etc.


The Visa Stickers are issued by the respective Member States to the entitled categories of that particular country.  The validity of the Visa Sticker is generally for one year.  The implementation is reviewed regularly by the Immigration Authorities of SAAR Member States.