International tourism is currently going through difficult times, but the borders are gradually opening with certain restrictions. Russia is resuming air traffic with many countries and is beginning to issue tourist visas again.
The main document that regulates entry to Russia during the pandemic is the Government Decree No. 635-r (March 16, 2020) that is regularly upgraded.
According to this document, only certain categories of foreigners can visit Russia, regardless of citizenship: diplomats, pilots, Russians’ family members, athletes to participate in competitions and specialists by invitation and foreigners with a residence permit in Russia. They can enter with any kind of transport.
Residents of the partially recognized republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia can also enter Russia via land and railway checkpoints, regardless of the trip purpose. The main thing is that the entry must be from these republics.
However, no restrictions apply to Russian citizens: holders of Russian passports can freely return to the Motherland. Before registering for a flight, they need to fill out a special electronic form and upon arrival in Russia, they need to pass a PCR test for COVID-19 within three days and upload the results to the state services website. If they have a certificate of vaccination with a Russian vaccine, then the test is not needed. Note that foreign vaccines are not yet recognized in Russia.
According to the abovementioned decree, foreigners can come to Russia from those countries with which Russia has resumed regular flights, including for tourist purposes. It is important to come from that country where the visitor has citizenship or a residence permit. That is, a Turkish citizen must fly from Turkey, while a UK citizen - only from the UK. It’s forbidden to enter Russia via land or sea borders (with the exception of Belarus: citizens of this state can also enter by train).
As of July 2021, the countries from which a tourist can fly directly are: Austria, Azerbaijan, Albania, Armenia, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, UK, Hungary, Venezuela, Vietnam, Germany, Greece, Egypt, India, Iceland, Jordan, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Qatar, Cyprus, Kyrgyzstan, Korea, Cuba, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Mauritius, Maldives, Malta, Morocco, Mexico, UAE, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, North Macedonia, Seychelles, Serbia, Singapore, Syria, the U.S., Tajikistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Switzerland, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia and Japan.
To board the plane, you must provide a negative PCR test for COVID-19 (in English or Russian), made no earlier than 72 hours before entering Russia. Children under the age of two do not need to pass a test. There is no quarantine for holders of such certificates (anyway, you won’t be allowed on a flight without them). Also, those arriving need to fill out a special form (sample) and have a policy covering medical expenses in the case of COVID-19.
Citizens of the Eurasian Economic Union (Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan) (and from September 1, 2021, all CIS citizens) must install the mobile app called ‘Traveling without COVID-19’ to enter Russia (Google Play and App Store) and enter the test results in the application.
In Russia, it is still necessary to wear a mask in public places, including on any form of public transport and shopping malls. You are not required to wear one outside.
Russia has its own visa rules for each country, which can be found on the website of the Russian Embassy or the visa center of your country. If you already have a visa to Russia and you are included in the list of countries whose citizens are allowed to enter, then you can enter with this visa. If you need a new visa, then you need to apply for it at the visa center or the embassy in your country. Russia is once again issuing tourist, business and other types of visas, for countries with which it has resumed air traffic.
Note, a tourist visa will be given for up to six months, if a confirmed hotel booking is provided (the document is in Russian).
Meanwhile, citizens of 52 countries, including the EU, Japan and China, will be able to enter the country with an electronic visa, which can be issued in just four days, without the need for any documents confirming the purpose of the trip. Additionally, 72-hour visa-free entry to Russia for cruise ship passengers will, once again, come into force.
Important! In many countries, there are still restrictions on LEAVING for the purpose of tourism, so having a Russian visa does not even guarantee that you will get permission to leave your country. This should be clarified before making any trips.
All information is current as of July 23, 2021.
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