Weekend in Russia with no visa?

Selection_034The Russian government has issued draft amendments to the law ‘On Entering and Departing from the Russian Federation’ which will allow foreign citizens the right to stay in Russia without a visa for up to 72 hours.

Selection_035The same rules are currently applicable to passengers of cruise liners and ferry boats. These new rules will also be valid for visitors arriving by plane.

However, these new simplified procedures do not cover all visitors.

To be able to visit Russia for up to 72 hours without a visa, you will have to:

  1. Enter Russia through one of 11 airports, including Moscow airports: Sheremetyevo, Domodedovo and Vnukovo, and the main airports in such cities as Kazan, Yekaterinburg, Sochi, Novosibirsk, Khabarovsk, Kaliningrad and Vladivostok.
  2. Be a citizen of the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, Italy, Austria, Greece, Germany, Spain, France, Canada, Australia, Japan, Singapore, China, the US and several other countries, numbering around 20 in total.
  3. Fly to Russia on a Russian airline.
  4. Have a hotel booking and medical insurance.

Under the Russian government’s plan, the new rules will increase tourism by up to 60% (to 3.2 million people a year) and bring the Russian economy an extra 3.6-5.4 billion rubles a year. Russian airlines will also profit from bringing more tourists to Russia looking to enjoy a short no-visa 72-hour stay.

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28.1 million foreigners visited the country in 2012, 2.1 million of them as tourists. Whilst these figures may seem quite high, many feel they are far too low for a country of Russia’s size and stature, as they are on a par with much smaller countries such as Laos and Costa Rica.

According to the current draft, the amendment to the law should enter force on June 1, 2014.

Valentina Khlavich, Managing Partner. B.L. business and legal solutions, vk@bl-s.com