In February 2017 visa-free entry to Belarus will open to citizens of 80 countries. Foreigners will be able to spend up to 5 days in Belarus without any visa and registration formalities.
To make the exploration of one of the Europe’s last off-the-beaten-track spots more comfortable, here’s a list of FAQs and things to know for those who decide to use this option.
1. Will I be able to come to Belarus visa-free?
The list of countries whose citizens will be able to enter Belarus visa-free includes 80 states. These are 39 European states, including all EU countries, as well as to Brazil, Indonesia, the USA, Japan and other states.
Here are all of them:
Antigua and Barbuda
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Order of Malta
Please, note, that if you’re a citizen of China, Haiti, Honduras, Gambia, India, Lebanon, Namibia, Samoa or Vietnam, you must have a valid document for travel abroad with a valid multiple visa of the states-members of the European Union or the states-participants of the Schengen area with a note of entry to the territory of a state-member of the European Union or a state-member of the Schengen area, as well as tickets confirming the date of departure from the Minsk National Airport within 5 days from the date of entry to Belarus.
You can also use the visa-free option if you have a non-citizen status of the Republic of Latvia or you are a person without citizenship, permanently residing in Estonia.
2. My country is not in the list, can I still come to Belarus visa-free?
Yes, the possibility remains.
For example, no visa at all is needed for the citizens of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine.
Also, Belarus has relaxed visa rules for short-term visits (usually up to 90 days) for citizens of the following states:
- Brazil (twice a year up to 90 days)
- Venezuela (90 days)
- Israel (90 days)
- Qatar (30 days)
- Cuba (30 days)
- Macedonia (with an invitation or a tourist voucher)
- Mongolia (90 days)
- Serbia (30 days)
- Turkey (30 days of one visit and up to 90 days within one year from the date of first entry)
- Montenegro (30 days with an invitation or a tourist voucher)
- Ecuador (30 days of one stay and 90 days within a year)
- Chinese citizens don’t need a visa in case of a transit travel (up to 3 days if you come by direct flights from China and have a valid Schengen visa). In case of group tourist visits you also need no visa.
However, before you come, make sure you consult the nearest Belarusian embassy for document formalities.
3. How long can I stay in Belarus without a visa?
According to the Decree “On establishment of visa-free entry and exit of foreign nationals”, foreign citizens of 80 countries can enter Belarus for up to 5 days.
The countdown will start once an entry stamp is put in your passport and migration at the airport upon arrival.
Important: double check that there is no random money in your documents when you had it to a border officer as it can be considered as bribery. At the border you are not allowed to take pictures or videos and talk on the phone – leave it for later.
4. What will happen if I don’t leave the country in 5 days?
Well, it depends on the reason.
In case of an illness, natural disaster or other unforeseen circumstances preventing the exit, a tourist or their representative will have to contact an internal affairs body and ask for a visa. In this case, it will be possible to leave Belarus through any border checkpoint without any fine or sanction.
However, those who violate visa-free rules, will face administrative punishment – a warning and/or a fine of up to €550. Rule-breakers might also be deported.
5. What documents do I need to have to travel to Belarus without a visa?
- a valid passport or another substituting document for traveling abroad (ID cards that Europeans use for travelling inside the EU are not allowed!);
- financial means of at least 25 Euro (or equal amount in dollars or Belarusian rubles) for each day of stay. That is 125 Euro for 5 days;
- medical insurance with coverage for at least 10,000 Euros that covers the territory of Belarus. It can be an insurance from “Belgosstrakh” or “Eximgarant” which you can buy on the border (at the airport or border control look for a window that says “Obligatory medical insurance”), or it can be an international insurance if it covers Belarus.
6. How do I travel to Belarus? Can I come and leave by train or bus?
Foreigners can enter and exit from the territory of Belarus only through the State border checkpoint of the Republic of Belarus “Minsk National Airport”.
So you need to fly – buses, cars and trains are excluded (for exit as well!), at least for now.
7. Since I am in Eastern Europe I fancy seeing Russia as well! Can I leave to Russia from Belarus or can I come to Minsk from Russia?
No, you can’t. Visa-free travel does not apply to persons coming to Belarus with flights from Russia and intending to fly to Russia.
Despite the fact that Belarus and Russia are a Union State, visa-free initiative applies to the territory of Belarus alone. And because flights from Minsk to Russia are considered internal ones, flying there without a visa will be considered a violation.
Also, even if you have a valid Russian visa, you can not fly from Minsk to Moscow (or other Russian city) directly.
Solution? If you want to continue the tour further to the East, you will have to take an international flight out of Belarus (to Poland or Lithuania, for example) and then fly to Russia from there.
8. How many times can I come to Belarus visa-free?
As many as you wish!
Note: The duration of temporary stay of a foreign citizen who travels to Belarus visa-free should not exceed 90 (ninety) days in a calendar year from the date of the first entry into the Republic of Belarus, unless otherwise specified by the Law, other legislative acts and international treaties of the Republic of Belarus.
9. Do I need to make a registration?
No, you don’t. Registration is required only if you stay in Belarus for more than 5 days.
10. So when will the visa-free thing start?
The decree was signed on 9 January and published on the national legal portal on 11 January.
It comes into force one month after publication, so visa-free travel will open on 12 February 2017.
11. What if I want to stay longer than 5 days?
In this case you will have to apply for a regular visa. By the way, the costs of long-term visas to Belarus have recently been lowered.
But, believe us, five days will be just enough to explore not only the capital, but some other places as well.
And then probably you will want to come back!