Starting 1 January the visa-free travel time for foreign citizens was extended up to ten days in several areas of Brest Oblast and Grodno Oblast.
There is all you should know about visa-free travel to Brest and Grodno!
Let’s find out how entry regulations in Brest and Grodno differ from each other and those that are active for foreigners coming to Belarus for 5 days by plane through the “Minsk National Airport”.
1. What are visa-free regions in Grodno and Brest?
Check out a map of visa-free territories and checkpoints.
The tourist-recreational zone Brest became visa-free.
The zone includes:
- Kamenets, Brest and Pruzhany districts of Brest region,
- Svisloch district of Grodno region.
Besides, a tourist-recreational park the “Augustow Canal” along with Grodno and Grodno district also fall under new regulations.
2. Where foreigners can cross the borders visa-free?
There are 12 checkpoints:
Brest: Brest (Terespol), Domachevo (Slovatichi), Peschatka (Polovtsy), Pererov (Belovezha), the Brest railway checkpoint (“Terespol”), the checkpoint “Brest Airport”.
Grodno region: “Bruzgi” (“Kuznitsa Bialostokskaya”), “Privalka” (“Raigardas”), “Lesnaya” (Rudavka), “Privalka” (“Shvyandubre”), the railway checkpoint “Grodno”, the checkpoint “Grodno Airport”.
3. What documents are necessary?
Required: passport, medical insurance, tourist permit, migration card (it is issued when a foreigner enters the country).
A tourist permit is the most important document which gives a foreigner a right to private (group) visit to the tourist-recreational zone “Brest” or to the tourist-recreational park “Augustow Canal”.
In fact, foreigners will be able to come to Belarus visa-free only via a Belarusian travel agency.
Moreover, the agency should have a special certificate of conformity and the right to issue documents for a visa-free visit.
In the near future, Brest will launch a site similar to Grodno’s grodnovisafree.by.
Here tourists can choose a tour operator and specify their wishes on a tour program.
As soon as the tourist pays for a tour and signs a contract with the tour operator, he will be sent a confirmation of the right to enter the country without a visa and receive booked tourist services.
There is no fee for filling in and issuance of documents for the right to visit our country.
4. Who can visit Belarus without a visa?
According to Presidential Decree No. 462, citizens of 77 countries, including Hong Kong, which is a special administrative district of the People’s Republic of China, as well as persons with a non-citizen status in Latvia and stateless persons permanently residing in Estonia, can visit Belarus without visas.
5. Is it necessary to register at the local migration departments?
Yes. Foreigners who arrive in Grodno or Brest on a visa-free basis will have to register within five days.
Usually, the registration issues are resolved by the hotels or farm guest houses where foreigners stay.
By the way, those who arrive via a visa-free program in Minsk, don’t have to undergo the registration.
6. Can a visa-free tourist who comes to Brest to visit Grodno as well?
No. It is forbidden for a visa-free tourist who comes to Brest to leave the tourist-recreational zone “Brest”.
However, if a foreigner has ordered a tour only to the Brest territory, he can visit other visa-free areas of the tourist-recreational zone “Brest”.
7. Can a tourist develop his own travel program for the Augustow Canal or Brest?
It is a controversial question. A tourist can make an individual program, but only with the help of a local tour operator.
Based on the client wishes, the tour operator develops a visit program. Mind that the term of the individual program should not exceed ten days.
8. Should a visa-free tourist prove that he has enough money?
When entering Belarus the foreigner should possess not less than two basic units for each day of stay.
By 2018, the size of the basic unit is BYN 24.5 (~12.34), that means BYN49 (~$24.69 ) per day.
9. For how long a visa-free tourist can stay in Brest or Grodno?
A foreigner can stay in the visa-free zone for the entire term of the tour that has been bought from the tour operator.
While purchasing additional tourist services, the period of stay can be extended.
The total period of stay for a foreigner in a visa-free zone should not exceed 10 days, regardless of the number of tours purchased.
10. What can stop a visa-free tourist from leaving Brest and visiting Minsk?
Nothing. There will be no checkpoints at the borders of visa-free travel territories.
However, if the visa-free tourist is stopped by the police at the Minsk territory, he will face liability under Article 23.55 of the Code of Belarus on Administrative Offenses “Violation of the Rules of Stay in the Republic of Belarus”.
The sanction provides for a warning with deportation or without deportation or imposition of a fine of up to twenty basic units (BYN 490/~$246.35) with deportation or without deportation.
According to the law hotels, health centers, guest houses, legal entities and individual entrepreneurs who provide rental services are obliged to provide information about their guests, including their personal data, to the police within three hours after the “registration” of the foreigner.
11. What else changed in the visa-free legislation?
Today visa-free tourists can’t stay at their friends or acquaintances’ places.
They are obliged to book rooms in hotels, health centers, guest houses or officially rented flats.
This doesn’t apply for the so-called excursionists who come to Belarus just for one day.
12. Will Brest become a popular tourist destination starting 1 January?
Time will tell.
At the moment Brest tour operators who can arrange tours for visa-free tourists need to register on a site that does not work yet.
Potential tourists will not be able to contact local tour operators without this site.
Meanwhile, Grodno tour operators temporarily stopped the reception and registration of visa-free tourists.
They explained it by too many controversial questions about the practical application of the decree.
They still are waiting for the repsonse from the relevant authorities.
Also, the system for registration of visa-free tourists on the Grodno site grodnovisafree.by does not work yet.