Although the COVID restrictions continued to affect international travel in 2021, it was still busy at the borders of the Caribbean Netherlands. In the past year, many people traveled to or from Saba, St. Eustatius and Bonaire. The Royal Netherlands Marechaussee (Koninklijke Marechaussee, KMar) is responsible for border control and its checks include deciding whether people have a legitimate purpose to come to the islands and whether or not they have stayed too long within the Caribbean Netherlands.
KMar’s border control officers check at the border whether persons meet the conditions for entry. Among other things, they examine the purpose and duration of the trip. A check is made to ensure that a traveller does not intend to stay longer than the maximum permitted free period. This period differs per nationality and depends on the purpose of the trip. The entry check is also intended as far as possible to prevent persons from entering the Caribbean Netherlands whose motive is crime or working illegally or who in any other way form a threat to the safety of the islands. In 2021, the KMar refused 68 persons entry to the Caribbean Netherlands because they did not meet the entry conditions.
KMar also checks whether a visitor has sufficient financial means to provide for themselves. If this is not guaranteed, a person may be admitted subject to conditions. In such a case, the most important condition is that a sponsor becomes responsible for this person’s livelihood. Sometimes additional conditions are attached to this, such as an obligation to report. In the past year, 121 persons were admitted subject to conditions. The Immigration Supervision Department of the Dutch Caribbean Police Force (Korps Politie Caribisch Nederland, KPCN) carries out checks on compliance with admissions that are subject to conditions.
In the case of persons who are not residents of the Caribbean Netherlands, a check is also made upon departure to ensure that visitors have not exceeded the free period. Violation of the free period is punishable by a fine. The amount of the fine depends on the number of days by which the free period is exceeded. In 2021 the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee fined 196 people for this violation that is also known as ‘overstaying’.