Russia has previously introduced a complimentary electronic visa for St. Petersburg, Kaliningrad, and Vladivostok, and tentative plans were in place to have one for the entire country from January 21, 2021.
Russia’s prime minister signed a directive in early October, making this official. Citizens from 52 countries can enter and roam free within Russia for up to 16 days. The start date has now been confirmed as of January 1, 2021, and there will be 29 valid entry points.
Note that e-visa is not available for the United States, Canada, and United Kingdom passport holders. Applicants only need to pay a $40 consular fee and are NOT required to have invitations, hotel bookings, or other documents to support their application (like previously).
Here are the eligible countries:
6. the Vatican
19. China (including Taiwan)
20. Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
30. the Netherlands
36. San Marino
38. North Macedonia
44. the Philippines
48. the Czech Republic
Valid entry points:
I. Automobile checkpoints
II. Air checkpoints
Nizhny Novgorod (Strigino)
Saint Petersburg (Pulkovo)
III. Railway checkpoints
IV. Maritime checkpoints
Big Port Saint Petersburg (Marine Station section)
Passenger Port Saint Petersburg
V. Pedestrian checkpoints
Announcement from the Russian government (Google translate):
From the beginning of 2021, a unified electronic visa is being introduced in Russia. The list of border checkpoints through which it will be possible to cross the border with such a visa was approved by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.
The list includes 29 border checkpoints. In particular, these are international airports in Belgorod, Volgograd, Yekaterinburg, Kazan, Krasnodar, Krasnoyarsk, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Novosibirsk, Rostov-on-Don, Samara and St. Petersburg.
The ports of St. Petersburg, Vladivostok and Zarubino (Primorsky Territory) are listed among the sea checkpoints. Among the automobile ones there are six border checkpoints in the Kaliningrad region (Bagrationovsk, Gusev, Mamonovo (Grzhekhotki and Gronovo), Morskoye, Sovetsk), one in the Pskov region (Ubylinka) and one in the Leningrad region (Ivangorod). The latter is also on the list of pedestrian checkpoints.
The list will be supplemented with new border posts as they are equipped with the necessary equipment.
A pilot project to introduce an e-visa started in 2017 and had a number of restrictions. Foreign citizens could cross the border with such a document only through some border checkpoints in the Far Eastern Federal District, St. Petersburg, Leningrad and Kaliningrad regions. However, they could not leave the boundaries of these regions.
Now the e-visa will be valid throughout Russia. It will be possible to cross the border through checkpoints in many regions, and travel throughout the country. In addition, the period of stay of foreign citizens in Russia will increase from 8 to 16 days.
An electronic visa will be issued via the Internet for tourist, business, humanitarian and guest trips. To receive it, you will not need invitations, hotel reservations or any other documents confirming the purpose of the trip. The processing time will take no more than four days. The consular fee will be $ 40. Children under 6 years of age will receive a visa free of charge.
The introduction of a unified e-visa in Russia will help the development of tourism, increase the investment attractiveness of the regions and contribute to the growth of the economy as a whole.
Earlier, Mikhail Mishustin approved the list of states whose citizens will be able to obtain an electronic visa.
I would still keep this “confirmed” January 1, 2021 start date as tentative considering the spike of Covid-19 cases in Europe, including Russia.
When I visited Russia during the Worldcup with a FAN ID, I entered the country using the train option from Helsinki that I would assume is included on the list above.
I was in Eastern Estonia two weeks ago and was peeking at Ivangorod from my hotel window in Narva (will be the only pedestrian option with this new electronic visa). The Estonia – Russia border was very calm, and you mainly saw fishers on both sides.
This electronic option makes it much easier for potential tourists to visit Russia. Many prefer not going through the usual visa application process that with Russia has required confirmed hotel reservations with invitation letters.