Russian Visa No Longer Necessary for Some Tourists Traveling to St. Petersburg
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Applying for a Russian visa is a notoriously inconvenient and expensive process, with no guarantee that you will be granted a visa. Further, tourists are often required to show proof of their accommodations in order to apply for these visas, sometimes putting thousands of dollars in jeopardy. This is all about to change for guests arriving from some countries.
Starting on the first of October of 2019, foreigners from 18 countries will be allowed to come and stay in St. Petersburg for up to 8 days without a tourist visa. The qualifying countries have not yet been named.
Earlier this evening (July 19th, 2019), Russian president Vladimir Putin, signed a decree stating that:
“entrance to the Russian Federation and departure from the Russian Federation for foreign citizens via the checkpoints of the state border of the Russian Federation located in the territories of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region can be made on the basis of regular single-entry business, tourist and humanitarian visas in the form of electronic documents”.
This means that if you are a citizen of a qualifying country and want to come to Russia, you should apply for electronic visa no later than 4 days prior to your arrival. What is even better is that you don’t have to pay any consular fees for obtaining this e-visa!
Our Experience Russia team is elated that the visa regulations are changing for the best. More guests arriving to St. Petersburg will not have to go through the long and expensive process of applying for a visa anymore.
Currently, it seems that guests arriving by cruise ship who do not qualify for this new e-visa, will still be able to receive a tour ticket by booking with a local company.
Update (July 24, 2019): While the qualifying countries have not yet been announced, it seems that citizens from the same 18 countries that qualify for e-visas in the Russian far-east will be included. (Algeria, Bahrain, Brunei, China, India, Iran, Japan, North Korea, Kuwait, Mexico, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Taiwan, Tunisia, and Turkey) See this link for more information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_policy_of_Russia#Russian_Far_East
Update (July 25, 2019): All Turkish citizens who have special and service passports will soon be permitted to enter Russia from any point of entry without a visa, for short-term stays. There are still no updates on the new e-visa regime in St. Petersburg.
Update (August 7, 2019): As of today, the new visa policy for Turkish citizens has gone into effect, read more information here: https://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/visa-free-travel-starts-between-turkey-russia-145587 .
Update (August 27th, 2019): The official list has been released and includes the following countries: Austria, Andorra, Bahrain, Belgium, Bulgaria, Vatican, Hungary, Germany, Greece, Denmark, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Iceland, Spain, Italy, Qatar, Cyprus, China (including Taiwan), The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Latvia, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Northern Macedonia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, Philippines, Finland, France, Croatia, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Sweden, Estonia, and Japan . Please see our St. Petersburg e-Visa Guide for additional information.
We will keep this article updated as more information is released.
Regardless of which country you’re a citizen of, everyone is eligible to tour St. Petersburg for up to 72 hours, if you’re arriving by cruise ship or ferry and you book a tour with a local tour operator. Be sure to check out our selection of visa-free shore excursions of St. Petersburg, to find the one that’s right for you. If you have any questions about traveling to Russia or tours in St. Petersburg, don’t hesitate to contact us.