by David Mustafaev, Ausserer&Consultants
Since October 1st, 2019, a new E-Visa regime is introduced for foreign citizen interested in visiting Saint Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast.
The Russian government has taken steps towards improving and facilitating its visa application process, which manifested in implementation of a new online visa system for Saint Petersburg and Leningrad oblast surrounding it. As recently announced, interested people could apply for Kaliningrad E-Visa and the E-Visa for the Far East regions of Russia. However, starting from October 1, such regime was also introduced for St. Petersburg, which permits applicants to complete the process of application online. Another major plus of E-Visas is that no invitation is required and application itself is free of charge. Such measure is expected to increase the tourism in the region to 12 million visitors per year. It should be noted, that St. Petersburg hardly is an obscure tourist destination. It is estimated that tourism accounts to roughly 13% of city’s budget income. For three consecutive years, from 2016 to 2018, the Northern Capital received recognition from World Travel Awards as one of the leading cultural cities of the World.
Electronic Visas regime to St. Petersburg will likely prove to be a highly useful and time-efficient novelty, but it comes with some restrictions and features. We have compiled a guide to provide some help with understanding how E-Visa works and clearing any related misconceptions.
What is an E-Visa?
As the name suggests, application for an E-Visa is made online, that greatly simplifies the entire process. Applications can be made online on the website of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (https://evisa.kdmid.ru) not earlier than 20 days and no later than 4 days before the intended date of entry.
Who can apply?
For now, only citizens of certain countries may apply for an E-Visa. List of countries is approved by the Government of the Russian Federation and includes 53 countries. The list of countries can be viewed on the application webpage.
What categories of E-Visas exist?
Only three categories of E-Visas are available now: business visa, tourist visa and humanitarian visa. Should the purpose of your trip to the Russian Federation differ from any of the above, you will not be able to apply for an E-Visa. In this case, it will be necessary to settle for an ordinary (non-electronic) visa.
Term of validity and territoriality.
E-Visa is valid for 30 days since its approval. It allows foreign nationals to stay in Russia for up to 8 days starting from the date of entry and cannot be extended. E-Visas are also only single entry.
E-Visa permits traveling exclusively within St. Petersburg and Leningrad oblast, we strongly advise not to attempt visiting other places to avoid entry issues. Violation of the regime of stay by foreign citizen may result in a fine. The fine ranges from 2000 to 5000 rubles (approximately 28 to 70 euros). This can also make it a lot harder to receive a Russian visa in the future. If mentioned restrictions do not accommodate you, it is more preferable to apply for an ordinary visa.
Documents required for application:
- Passport. The passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the date of applying an E-visa and have free space for border crossing stamps.
- Medical insurance that is valid in Russia for the entire period of your stay.
- Photo in JPEG format (width to height ratio 35×45). There is no need to visit a professional photographer, photos can be taken at home using a mobile phone camera as long as the stated requirments are complied with.
Application for an E-Visa does not require invitations, hotel booking confirmations or other documents related to the trip.
Please remember to have a printed visa approval and a medical insurance to present at the border checkpoints.
How to apply:
- Fill in the form online on evisa.kdmid.ru.
- The application will be reviewed within 1 to 4 calendar days and confirmation will be sent to your E-mail address.
We highly advise you to follow instructions carefully given on the website when filling in the application form and double check the input information to avoid visa rejection or a revocation of an issued visa at the Russian border.
Entering and leaving St. Petersburg / Leningrad region with e-visa:
Entering St. Petersburg or Leningrad region by E-visa is possible through Pulkovo airport, the checkpoints on the Russian-Finnish border Torfyanovka, Svetogorsk, Brusnichnoe for cars, buses and bikes and trough Ivangorod on the Russian-Estonian border. For those traveling by sea, a port of St. Petersburg and a port of Vysotsk are available for entering.
Foreign nationals must leave the territory of the Russian Federation only through checkpoints of St. Petersburg and Leningrad region.
Since its introduction, E-Visas have proved to be quite popular with foreign tourists with several hundred applications already confirmed. Feedback is largely positive, with people complimenting the ease of the process and favorable experience with online applications. E-Visas have been most used by citizens of Estonia (286 border crossings), Latvia (76) и Lithuania (75). Germany is currently occupying the 6th place on that list with 32 border crossings so far.
The exact impact on tourism to St. Petersburg and its region remains to be seen, however, with this novelty proving to a moderate success, it is assumed that the E-Visa regime will be introduced throughout the whole Russia from 2021. At that point, E-Visa will no longer be free of charge and will cost around 35 euros in consular fee.
We hope you will find this article useful, please contact Ausserer & Consultants if you have further inquiries on this subject. It would be our pleasure to provide you with advice and support.