BOFIT Viikkokatsaus / BOFIT Weekly 2019/36

Starting on October 1, foreign visitors to Russia can get cleared for their visit to St. Petersburg or the surrounding Leningrad region simply by filling in data online and downloading an electronic visa at no cost. It is not clear yet whether the new e-visa will also apply travellers entering Russia via Finnish-Russian rail services. The list of nationalities eligible for e-visas has also yet to be released.

Citizens of 53 countries (e.g. all EU countries, India and China) have been able to visit the Kaliningrad enclave on an e-visa since July. Citizens of China, India and 15 other (predominantly Asian) countries have been able to visit the Russia’s Far East Federal District on an e-visa since 2017.

CIS countries have generally relaxed their visa practices. In order to attract visitors, some CIS countries over the past couple of years have introduced e-visas or increased the number of countries exempt from the visa requirement. This year, Uzbekistan removed the visa requirement for 45 nationalities. The countries of Central Asia are also planning to introduce a joint Silk Road Visa that would allow travel in any Central Asian country with the exception of Turkmenistan.

 EU citizens can now visit a number of CIS countries without visas, including Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. E-visa travel is available for Azerbaijan and Tajikistan. Limited visa-free travel is available for Russia and Belarus. Of all CIS countries, only Turkmenistan retains the traditional visa requirement.