Russia launches electronic visa from Aug 1

On August 1, 2023, Russia will finally be relaunching its long-awaited electronic visa (E-Visa) system after years of delays due to COVID-19. The E-Visa provides an easy online application process for citizens of over 50 countries looking to travel to Russia for tourism, business, or other purposes.

Russia launches electronic visa from Aug 1

What is Russia’s E-Visa System?

Russia’s E-Visa system allows eligible foreign nationals to obtain a Russian visa entirely online by completing an application form and paying a fee on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website.

Applicants simply submit their information and documents electronically through the site instead of having to visit a Russian embassy or consulate in person to apply for a traditional paper visa.

The E-Visa system aims to streamline the Russian visa application process and make travel to Russia more accessible for short-term visitors.

It was originally launched in 2020 but was almost immediately suspended due to global travel restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is now finally set to relaunch after years of suspended services.

Who Can Apply for Russia’s E-Visa?

Citizens from 52 countries will be eligible to apply online for Russia’s relaunched E-Visa system starting August 1, 2023.

The list of eligible nationalities is expected to be very similar to when the system first launched in 2020. It includes nationals of:

  • All European Union (EU) member countries
  • European Free Trade Association (EFTA) member countries – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland
  • China
  • India
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Singapore
  • Turkey
  • Japan
  • United Arab Emirates
  • And many other countries globally

Currently, to visit Russia, these nationals must obtain a traditional visa, which requires submitting an application in-person at an embassy/consulate. The E-Visa program will waive this requirement and allow easy online visa applications.

E-Visa Validity and Conditions

Russia’s E-Visa will permit a single entry into the country and be valid for 30 days from the date it is issued.

The visa will allow a maximum stay of up to 16 calendar days from the date of entry into Russia.

E-Visas can be used for purposes such as:

  • Tourism
  • Business trips
  • Visiting friends/family
  • Attending cultural, scientific, educational, or sporting events

The visa does not allow its holder to work in Russia. Applicants will have to confirm they have sufficient funds to cover their stay and provide a detailed itinerary.

E-Visa holders must enter Russia through one of the approved entry points, which includes major airports, land border crossings, and seaports equipped with electronic visa verification technology.

How Russia’s E-Visa System Works

How Russia E-Visa System Works

The process for obtaining an E-Visa will work as follows:

  1. Applicant completes online application form – Applicants visit the Russian Foreign Ministry’s E-Visa website and fill out the application with personal details, passport information, dates of travel, purpose of visit, etc.
  2. Supporting documents uploaded – Applicant uploads digital copies of a passport photo, passport information page, and other required documents.
  3. Application fee paid – Applicant pays the visa fee by credit/debit card on the E-Visa website. The fee amount may vary based on nationality.
  4. Application processed – The Russian immigration authorities will review the application and make a decision, generally within 4 calendar days.
  5. E-Visa issued – If approved, the electronic visa will be issued and sent to the applicant via email.
  6. Entry to Russia with E-Visa – Traveler can present the printed or digital E-Visa along with passport when entering Russia through approved entry points.

The Return of Russia’s Long-Awaited E-Visa System

Russia had initially launched E-Visas in 2017, but only for specific regions and pilot projects. The goal was to eventually roll out a unified, country-wide E-Visa system that made it easier for tourists and business travelers to visit Russia.

However, the full national launch of the system slated for 2020 was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Travelers have eagerly awaited the return of Russia’s E-Visa system since it was suspended in March 2020. The E-Visa provides a much simpler and faster visa application option compared to traditional visas.

The reintroduction of the E-Visa system has been postponed multiple times over the past three years. Earlier 2022 relaunch dates announced by Russia were pushed back.

Now, the Russian government has firmly declared August 1, 2023 as the official relaunch date, with the Foreign Ministry taking applications starting on this date.

With this long-awaited move, Russia is catching up to many other countries that introduced E-Visa systems years ago. The streamlined process is expected to attract more tourists and business travelers.

Benefits for Travelers of Russia’s E-Visa System

Russia’s visa-on-arrival and E-Visa programs make visiting the country far more convenient for eligible nationalities. Benefits include:

  • Apply easily online without embassy visits
  • Fast processing within 4 calendar days
  • Cheaper application cost compared to regular visas
  • Entry through major airports and land/sea checkpoints
  • Can apply and receive visa approval in advance of travel dates

For many travelers, the E-Visa will provide a smoother way to visit Russia for tourism or short business trips. The ability to apply remotely in just a few clicks is a major advantage.

The E-Visa program will also generate revenue for Russia through application fees and boost tourism by removing barriers to travel. It puts Russia on par with other top tourist destinations in offering visa-free or E-Visa access.

What Travelers Should Know About Russia’s E-Visa

While Russia’s E-Visa represents a major development for travelers, some limitations and conditions remain:

  • Only single-entry visas are issued, valid for 30 days from date of issue
  • Maximum allowed stay in Russia is 16 days from entry date
  • Not valid for employment purposes
  • Required to enter and exit through approved entry points with E-Visa capabilities
  • Mandatory travel insurance still required

So regular visitors to Russia will still need to apply for traditional multi-entry visas. But for many one-time tourists or business visitors, the E-Visa presents a faster and more convenient application option.

Russia Sets Its Sights on Tourism Growth

A key motivation behind Russia relaunching its E-Visa system is to stimulate growth in its tourism industry after years of pandemic slowdowns.

Russia attracted only around 1 million international visitors in 2021 after previously seeing over 24 million in 2019. Popular destinations like St. Petersburg saw foreign tourism drop by over 90%.

The country is eager to regain lost tourism activity and revenue. By removing barriers like complicated visa processes, Russia aims to attract more visitors to experience its rich cultural heritage and stunning landscapes.

Travel analysts expect Russia's tourism industry will steadily rebound, aided by the return of the E-Visa system. This will allow travelers from across the globe to again easily visit Russia’s many world-class tourism attractions.

The August 2023 relaunch date gives travelers time to plan future trips that take advantage of the new E-Visa system. Prospective visitors can anticipate an easier application process and smoother entry experience when the electronic visa system goes live.