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Belarus-Russia Visa Recognition Will Work As Mini-Schengen – Officials

Once the Belarus-Russia visa recognition agreement comes into force, foreigners won’t need two visas to stay in Belarus and Russia.

Belarus and Russia fully agreed on a draft intergovernmental agreement on the mutual recognition of visas on Friday, 30 November.

It should resolve the issue of transit of citizens of third countries with Russian or Belarusian visas through the territory of both countries.

Mini-Schengen

“It will work as a so-called mini-Schengen without the unification of visa rules,” said Head of the Department for Citizenship and Migration Aleksei Begun.

It means that foreigners who have a visa of one country will be able to enter, leave, and stay in the other country as long as the visa is valid.

russi-belarus border

However, travelers entering Belarus and Russia as part of Belarus visa-free travel program will still be obliged to receive a visa to stay in Russia.

The long-awaited agreement on the mutual recognition of visas is expected to be signed this December. The states reportedly came to terms on every point of the agreement.

Read also: How I crossed a Belarusian border. 5 foreigners tell their stories

Aleksei Begun also noted that after signing the agreement signed, the Russian side promised to remove control for plans arriving from Belarus at its airports.

“We will exchange information about border crossings, visas issued, canceled visas, temporary or permanent residence permits,” the official said.

When will it come into force?

The Belarusian side expects the mutual recognition of visas to come into force by May next year.

20 May is the day when Belarus is to enable visa-free travel for foreigners with accreditation for the 2nd European Games Minsk 2019.

The strangest border in Europe

Russia announced setting up border posts on the border with Belarus in February 2017. In spring all flights to and from Belarus in Russian airports were transferred to the international terminals.

In autumn that year the Russian side declared the introduction of temporary border posts with Belarus starting spring 2018. Russia explained it with the concerns regarding the visa-free entry for citizens of 80 countries previously established by Belarus.

Expert On Why Belarus And Russia Need International Checkpoint On The Border

The two countries have been negotiating the mutual recognition of visas for several years. So far, this only applied to travelers during the 2018 World Cup.

As to the third-country nationals who want to cross the Belarusian-Russian border by car, bus or train, the issue remains unresolved.

Read also: Russian police to help Belarus ensure security at 2019 European Games

Plans about the imminent signing of the agreement by the end of 2017 and in the spring of 2018 have remained unfulfilled.

Last month it became Russia reported about its plan to establish an international checkpoint on the border with Belarus in the Smolensk region.