If you’re planning a trip to Russia, then it may interest you to know that, from the start of next year, the country is introducing an online visa application system to save you the trip to the embassy! Here are all the details so far.
This post's overview:
Why travel to Russia?
Russia offers a surfeit of amazing sights and experiences for travellers. For starters, there’s Red Square and the Kremlin in Moscow, the Winter Palace and the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. Further afield, there are still little-known treasures such as Siberia’s city of Irkutsk and Lake Baikal, the largest fresh-water lake in the world and also the deepest! Read my post about the best cities to visit in Russia!
Up until a few years ago, the only way to gain entry to Russia as a foreign tourist was by visiting your nearest Russian embassy. You’d often have to travel a long way to get there, get up early in the morning to beat the queues, and fill in a lot of forms with pen and paper.
New visa rules for Russia
Fortunately, since 2017 Russia’s government has realised that this complicated process was bringing down its international visitors numbers. So, in an effort to generate $15.5 billion in tourism revenue by 2024, since then it’s taken strides to make things easier for travellers.
Three years ago the government introduced what’s called an “electronic visa” (eVisa) for visitors to the Far East Federal District, including Vladivostock. Last year it followed this up with eVisas for St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad. And, from January 1st 2021, Russia’s government will introduce an eVisa to enable international tourists to visit the whole country.
eVisa to Allow You to Gain Russian Travel Permit Online
In case this is the first time you’ve heard of the “eVisa”, here’s the low-down via travel documents service Byevisa. It’s an online system to apply for your tourist permit by entering your personal details and planned travel dates, and uploading some documentation such as your passport.
Once your application is approved, you receive your eVisa by email to either print to show border officials when you arrive, or even simply show them the archive on your smartphone or tablet.
So the advantages for you over getting a traditional paper visa are clear. You save yourself the journey to the Russian embassy and, rather than having to apply weeks or months in advance, you’ll be able to do so anywhere you are up to just four business days before your planned entry date.
53 Nationalities Eligible, eVisa to Allow Visits of up to 16 Days
The Russian eVisa will enable tourists to visit the country for up to 16 days at a time, compared to the existing regional eVisas which allow entry for only 8 days each.
The citizens of 53 countries will be eligible to obtain one, including citizens of the European Union, Japan, Singapore, China, India, Indonesia and Mexico. For the moment, citizens of the United States, United Kingdom and Canada will have to continue applying via their Russian embassy. That said, Deputy Foreign Minister Yevgeny Ivanov has said that these nationalities could become eligible for the eVisa in future “if visa dialogue with these states normalises.”
The Russian government’s hope is that the eVisa will encourage visitors to the country who up until now may have been put off by the complicated application process. For sure, the new online system puts Moscow’s St. Basil’s Cathedral, St. Petersburg’s Nevsky Avenue, plus traditional dishes such as borscht (beet soup) closer within reach.
Officials are set to announce further details about the new electronic travel permit ahead of its launch at the start of the next year. So watch this space to find out more about how to make organising your next trip to Russia much easier!