The Russian government is preparing to launch the new unified E-visa for Russia which will grant eligible foreigners freedom of movement within the entire Russian territory for tourism and business purposes. The E-visa is an electronic visa that can be obtained completely online and allows for a quick approval process.
The nationwide electronic visa was approved in February 2020 and expected to go live on the 1st of January 2021 but the launch is currently on hold pending the evaluation of the current coronavirus situation, as confirmed by the Russian Foreign Ministry.
However, the Russian authorities have already released a complete list of eligible nationalities together with other crucial visa information such as:
- Eligible border crossing points
- Validity of the unified E-visa
- Details of the E-visa online application process
The unified E-visa for Russia is expected to significantly boost international tourism for the Federation. Experts report that the country may see a 20-25% increase in foreign arrivals as a result of the new policy.
New Russian Unified E-visa: Eligibility
The following nationalities have been confirmed to be eligible for the new Russian visa online:
- Czech Republic
- North Macedonia
- San Marino
- Saudi Arabia
- Vatican City
The new list covers almost all the countries already eligible for the region-specific electronic visas for Russia, the first of which was launched in August 2017.
At the moment, citizens of nations like the U.S., Canada, and the UK cannot apply online for Russian visas.
Besides holding a valid passport issued by one of the eligible countries, the Russian government has confirmed that applicants must intend to travel to the Federation for the following purposes:
- Private or business visit
- Participating in scientific, cultural, socio-political, economic, sporting events
- Carrying out relevant communications and contacts
If the above does not cover the purpose of the visit, travelers will have to apply for a traditional paper visa at a Russian embassy or consulate.
The Government Approved the Unified E-visa Application Process
The process of requesting an E-visa is expected to be quick and easy, in line with the region-specific electronic visa applications launched in the past few years.
Applicants will need to create an account online and fill out the application form. The visa can be requested no earlier than 40 days and no later than 4 days before the expected date of arrival.
The unified E-visa application will require:
- Personal and passport details such as date of birth and full name
- A machine-readable passport issued by an eligible country valid for at least 6 months from the date of submission
- A digital recent photograph of the applicant in JPEG format
- The payment of the relevant application fee
- Medical insurance for the entire duration of the stay in Russia (except for exempt nationalities)
Minors must apply for their separate electronic visa.
Russian authorities expect to take no longer than 4 days to review the application and issue a visa.
How to Use the Unified Electronic Visa for Russia
Once the application is reviewed and approved, the electronic visa will be available as a PDF for download. All communications regarding the visa application will be made via email at the address provided in the online form.
Visitors will then carry with them a physical or electronic copy of the visa as they travel to Russia. This must be shown to Russian border control officers together with relevant identification. Should the information in the visa and on the traveler’s passport not match or be deemed incorrect, the visa may be revoked. The final decision regarding entry into the country is made by the Russian authorities at the border.
Holders of a unified E-visa will be allowed to move freely within the Russian territory and across regions, with the exception of restricted territories or facilities that require special written permission as per federal laws.
The Russian government has released the complete list of approved border crossing points for E-visa travel:
- Air checkpoints: Pulkovo, Belgorod, Volgograd (Gumrak), Ekaterinburg (Koltsovo), Kazan, Krasnodar (Pashkovsky), Krasnoyarsk (Yemelyanovo), Moscow (Vnukovo), Moscow (Domodedovo), Moscow (Sheremetyevo), Nizhny Novgorod (Strigino), Novosibirsk (Tolmachevo), Rostov-on-Don (Platov), Samara (Kurumoch)
- Naval checkpoints: Vladivostok, Zarubino, Saint Petersburg Marine Station, Saint Petersburg Passenger Port
- Railroad checkpoints: Pogranichny, Khasan
- Automobile checkpoints: Bagrationovsk, Gusev, Mamonovo (Grzechotki), Mamonovo (Gronowo), Morskoje, Sovetsk, Ivangorod, Ubylinka
- Pedestrian checkpoint: Ivangorod
The unified E-visa is a single-entry visa, meaning that once the system is live, visitors will need to re-apply if they leave Russia and wish to enter again on an electronic visa. The visa is valid for 60 days from the date of issue but allows a single stay in the Russian Federation territory of up to 16 days. The entry date and the day of departure are counted as 2 days.
Russian authorities confirmed that the unified E-visa will not be extendable except when visitors cannot leave the country due to extraordinary circumstances such as natural disasters or emergency medical treatments.