A senior official in the Russian government has confirmed that a Russian electronic visa for 53 nationalities will launch next year, greatly simplifying the process of applying for a visa for the country.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yevgeny Ivanov announced that the new electronic visa system will come into effect on January 1st, 2021, and save eligible nationalities the need to apply for a visa for Russia in person from an embassy or consulate.
The announcement fulfills a previous promise made by President Vladimir Putin that he would make a Russian eVisa available to foreign citizens in an effort to achieve the government’s goal of generating $15.5 billion in annual tourism revenue by 2024.
The simplified online visa process is expected to be a major incentive for foreign nationals to travel to the country, as many potential tourists had previously cited the complicated embassy visa application as a barrier to visiting Russia.
Once implemented, eligible citizens will be able to obtain a 16-day tourist eVisa for Russia through the simple online application system.
Foreign Minister Ivanov confirmed that applicants will be required to submit an online application at least 4 business days before the intended arrival date in Russia, to allow for sufficient processing time for the visa.
As more information about the new system is expected to be announced, those interested in applying for a Russia eVisa are advised to check visa requirements closer to the 2021 launch date.
Eligible Nationalities for the eVisa for Russia
When making the announcement about the new eVisa launch, Ivanov confirmed the nationalities eligible to apply for the Russia online visa, which includes citizens of the European Union, and a number of Southeast Asian, Middle Eastern and Latin American nations.
Individual countries already confirmed as eligible for the Russia eVisa include China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, and Singapore.
Ivanov also confirmed that the online visa for Russia will not be available to US, UK, or Canadian passport holders upon launch, stressing that the decision for inclusion on the list was made partly based on the countries’ visa policy for Russian citizens.
However, the Deputy Foreign Minister suggested that while the visa processes for Russian citizens to travel to these countries are still not satisfactory, Canada, the UK, and the US could one day be added to the eVisa list, “if visa dialogue with these states normalizes.”
Regional Electronic Visas for Russia
Although the eVisa to travel to all of Russia will not be implemented until 2021, the Russian government has already launched several different types of eVisa to travel to individual regions in the country.
In 2017, the country launched an electronic visa for the Far East Federal District, which includes the Primorsky Krai region and its capital city, Vladivostock, and is available to 18 different foreign nationalities.
Then, in 2019, two additional eVisa systems were implemented: an electronic visa for St. Petersburg and Leningrad, as well as an eVisa to visit the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, located between Poland and Lithuania on the southeast coast of the Black Sea.
All of the regional eVisas for Russia currently available permit the holder to stay for up to 8 days in the relevant territory, are valid for 30 days to enter the country from the date of approval and are available for business and tourism, or humanitarian purposes.