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Introducing the electronic visa regime for foreign nationals crossing the Russian border through checkpoints in St Petersburg and Leningrad region

03.10.2019

For the attention of companies' CEOs, in-house lawyers and HR specialists

Pepeliaev Group advises that there is an opportunity to obtain an ordinary single-entry business, tourist or humanitarian visa in electronic form (an “Electronic Visa”) for foreign nationals travelling to St Petersburg and Leningrad Region.

Starting from 1 October 2019, the Russian President's Order No. 347 dated 18 July 2019 has introduced a regime of an electronic visa to St Petersburg, Russia for foreign nationals. This regime provides for foreign nationals to have the opportunity to obtain an online visa to Russia if all the following conditions are met at the same time:
  • the Russian border is to be crossed at checkpoints in St Petersburg and Leningrad Region [1].
  • the foreign national is travelling to Russia for a business, tourist or humanitarian purpose;
  • the length of his/her stay in Russia will not exceed 8 full days;
  • the foreign national is a citizen of a country included in a special list [2].
You can obtain an online visa to Russia by using the website of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs by completing a special application form no later than four calendar days before the planned date of entry into Russia [3]. No consular fees will be charged for electronic visas to be issued.

We believe that the new rules for a tourist visa to St Petersburg should significantly facilitate the procedure for foreign nationals planning a short-term visit to Russia (St Petersburg and Leningrad Region) to obtain a Russian visa. 

Nevertheless, given that electronic visas are only being brought into force and given the lack of a number of necessary regulations of the Russian Government, it should not be ruled out that, starting from 1 October, the procedure for obtaining electronic visas will be in force to a limited extent.

It should also be noted that the regime of electronic visas provides that foreign nationals may stay only within St Petersburg and Leningrad Region. In other words, having obtained an electronic visa, a foreign national will not be entitled to go outside of the specified Russian constituent entities (e.g. to Moscow) even within the 8 permitted full days of his/her stay. 

What to think about and what to do

We recommend taking into account the possibility of obtaining electronic visas when planning business trips of foreign nationals to St Petersburg and Leningrad Region.

Help from your adviser

Pepeliaev Group’s lawyers have an extensive experience of advising on all issues of labour law and migration legislation. They are ready to provide necessary legal assistance on issues relating to the new development with regard to a visa to travel to St Petersburg.
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[1] Specific checkpoints must be approved by the Russian Government. So far, a draft Resolution has been developed (https://regulation.gov.ru/projects#npa=94563). 
[2] Instruction No. 2021-r of the Russian Government dated 10 September 2019 adopts a list of 53 countries of which citizens may obtain an electronic visa. The list includes, in particular, the following countries: France, Germany, Spain, Italy and China.  
[3] The specific aspects of obtaining electronic visas must be approved by the Russian Government. So far, the draft Regulation has been developed (https://regulation.gov.ru/projects#npa=93922). 

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