Belarus will expand its visa-free areas and intensify work on the European Union (EU) and Russia visa-free travel options, Belarusian Premier Sergei Rumas told media last Friday, 2 August.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will submit its proposals on visa-free travel with the EU and Russia to Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko in the near future.
At present, the only way for a third-country person to travel between Belarus and Russia directly is by air and with two visas, a Russian and a Belarusian one.
In addition to that, the participants of the meeting discussed the visa waiver for foreign visitors. Particularly, it was decided to expand the visa-free zones in Grodno Oblast and Brest Oblast.
“These measures are expected to give a boost to tourism. We told the head of state about the positive effect of the previous decisions on visa-free travel. We expect an increase in inbound visits,” Sergei Rumas said.
Recall that the agreement on visa facilitation between Belarus and the EU is to be signed before 2 February 2020. While no specific date was announced, the parties reassured to sign the agreement as soon as all formal legal procedures are complete.
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When the amendments to the visa code take force, the Schengen visa fees increase to €80. For Belarusians, the estimated fee will be €35 per person, as soon the parties sign an agreement on simplifying the visa regime.
Meanwhile, fewer Belarusians have been applying for Schengen visas. During 2018, Schengen embassies in Belarus collected a total of 681,106 visa applications. The is 5% fewer compared to 2017.
Last year, 681,106 residents of Belarus applied for a Schengen uniform visa, whereas in 2017 Schengen embassies reported 715,433 visa applications. Most of them were reportedly approved.
Belarus-Russia visa recognition agreement was supposed to be signed by the end of 2019. Negotiations on the agreement that started in 2015 are reportedly now at its final stage.