Russia and Belarus agree on mutual recognition of visas

The river at sunrise in winter

The law ratifying the Agreement between the Russian and Belarusian governments on mutual recognition of visas and other aspects of entry of foreigners and stateless persons into the territory of the Union State member states will soon come into force. By the end of 2024, both countries should complete all necessary internal procedures, and foreign citizens and stateless persons will be able to enter, exit, stay and transit through the territory of Russia and Belarus with a visa of one of these countries and identity documents.

In 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the need to prepare an agreement on mutual recognition of visas issued to citizens of foreign countries. In 2017, an action plan to create a common migration space of the Union State was adopted, including the preparation and signing of an agreement on mutual recognition of visas by the end of the same year. However, the agreement was never signed. The situation was aggravated by Belarus' introduction of visa-free entry for citizens of 80 countries for up to five days. In response, Russia strengthened control at the border, including the regions bordering Belarus, as well as departure and arrival zones at airports. Flights from Belarus to Russia and back began to be serviced in the international terminals of Russian airports.

Within the framework of the new law, a legal framework was created that defines the conditions for foreign citizens and stateless persons to cross the border between Russia and Belarus. Since the entry into force of this agreement, foreigners will be able to visit Belarus with a Russian visa, and vice versa - to enter Russia with a Belarusian visa. This right will apply to entry, stay, transit and exit from both countries by any mode of transport (air, rail or road) along the six routes specified in the agreement. The maximum stay in Russia and Belarus under this agreement is 90 days. However, foreign tourists using the 30-day visa-free entry program to Belarus through the airports of Minsk, Brest, Vitebsk, Gomel, Grodno and Mogilev will not be able to take advantage of this agreement and will be required to obtain a Russian visa to visit the neighboring country.