Belarus extends visa-free period for tourists to 30 days

Belarusian President Aleksander Lukashenko has signed a decree allowing foreign tourists to visit Belarus for a maximum period of 30 days without a visa. The visa-free rule previously applied to tourists staying for five days, although the Brest and Grodno regions had a separate 10-day visa-free rule for foreigners.

For the new visa-free rules to apply, foreign tourists must enter and leave Belarus via Minsk airport. Along with their passport, tourists must have on them at least 49 Belarusian roubles (21 euros) for each day of their stay, or 1225 Belarusian roubles (525 euros) if they are staying for the full 30 days. Belarus has not made it clear whether these sums need to be cash only, or whether bank cards are accepted as proof of sufficient funds. Tourists must also have medical insurance valid in Belarus.

The new visa-free regime, however, does not apply to tourists who enter Belarus on Russian airlines, or to tourists who fly out of Belarus to Russia, as these flights are to all intents and purposes internal, and there is no passport control, due to both countries forming a Union State, not too different to the Schengen Area. The regime does not apply to people planning to work or do business in the country, or to those planning to study if their study programme exceeds 30 days.

Importantly, foreigners must register with the local office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, for which there is an administration fee of 24.5 Belarusian roubles (10.50 euros). Tourists staying in hotels, hostels, health resorts and other such establishments need not deal with the state bureaucracy, as they will have their registration arranged by their hosts. However, some hostels have previously refused to register guests with the authorities, so tourists are advised to check before arriving. Tourists with an Airbnb booking are also advised to check with their host before arriving.

The new decree has been introduced to expand the Belarusian tourist sector and increase economic growth. The authorities want to attract more tourists to the country’s spa and health resorts and boost the country’s image as a convenient platform for hosting international fora, conferences, festivals and sports events.