Beginning October 1, 2019, travelers visiting St. Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast are going to be able to visit St. Petersburg with an electronic visa.
The decree signed by Russia’s President Valdimir Putin states: “Foreign citizens arriving in the Russian Federation via checkpoints on the basis of electronic visas have the right to freedom of movement within the territories of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region.”
Tourists have often complained about the difficulties obtaining visas to visit Russia and President Putin already promised to offer eVisas to foreign visitors by 2021. In order to do so, the country has already been increasing the number of entry points on an electronic visa since August 2017. It was then when 18 nationalities were authorized to enter and exit Russia on electronic visas through designated crossing points like Vladivostok airport.
A couple of years later, in July 2019, citizens from another 53 countries were allowed to use eVisa for the Kaliningrad region through border crossing points as well as Kaliningrad airport.
With this new 30-day eVisa, tourists and business people alike are going to be able to visit Russia for 8 days without any extra paperwork. What that means is that, although the electronic visa is valid for a period of 30 calendar days, visitors will only be allowed to remain in Russia for stays of up to 8 days.
The list of nationalities that are going to be able to benefit from this eVisa program has not been disclosed yet, but it is expected to be announced shortly.
A senior tourism official in the Russian administration declared that this move “is expected to attract 12 million tourists each year, up from the 8.2 million who visited St. Petersburg in 2018.”
RUSSIA GRADUALLY CHANGES ITS VISA SYSTEM
The current Russian visa system requires travelers willing to visit the country to apply for a visa by submitting the necessary documents at an embassy or consulate appointment. The process of obtaining a Russian visa is made even more cumbersome by the need to provide guest invitations when travelers are visiting family or friends.
Any simplification of the process is surely seen by travelers as a step in the right direction, and that is one of the goals behind this new Russia electronic visa. The advantages Russia eVisa holds over traditional visas are numerous. According to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “An e-visa is issued within 4 calendar days, including weekends and bank holidays, and there is no need for any invitations or confirmations.” Travelers only need to fill in the application form on the website, saving themselves the trip to the consular agency during its business hours. Not to mention, the Internet is open 24/7.
VISIT ST. PETERSBURGH WITH THE RUSSIA EVISA
Saint Petersburg has so many interesting sights and attractions that is difficult to choose just a few. Nevertheless, a trip to the city that considers itself Russia’s cultural capital would not be complete without a visit to the Hermitage, St. Petersburg’s most famous attraction and one of the world’s greatest treasuries of art. This museum as well as the Palace Square provide a sense of the vision the city’s designers infused into their masterpiece.
Art and architecture lovers can also step into the Russian Museum and, afterwards, enjoy the dazzling Church on the Spilled Blood, the sculpted Summer Gardens, the awe-inspiring architecture of Ostrovsky Square, and follow the banks of the Fontanka River or enjoy an evening stroll along Nevsky Prospekt is mandatory.
If you want to do some shopping, head over Gostiny Dvor and take a break from walking.
For those wondering about safety in St Petersburg, this city is generally safe and the most common crime is petty theft. Travelers are reminded to carry their passports with them at all times and immediately report any incident to the police. As usual, it is advised to use common sense and guard your valuables as well as avoid groups of beggars or gypsies.