In a couple of months, you (maybe) will be able to obtain a Russian visa to St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region in four days after filling in a simple form and sending (via the Internet) the form with your (digital) photo. No, it’s not a joke, though looks unbelievable (even to us). Read down the post for details.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced he had signed a decree enabling the introduction of e-visas to the city and the nearby Leningrad region.
This kind of visas was first launched in Russia in 2017 for the employees of resident companies of the Free Port of Vladivostok, then in 2018 it was expanded for the whole Russian Far East mostly for citizens of Asian countries. In 2019, the Kaliningrad region has become another area to enjoy the tool. And (fanfare 🥁🎺) St. Petersburg’s turn is coming soon.
What’s the e-visa and how it works?
We still don’t know some details regarding the electronic visa for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region, but we know how it works for Kaliningrad and think this will not differ much. Follow our website and social media accounts to keep yourself informed, we are tracking the theme.
So how it looks:
• You visit the website of the Russian Ministry of External Affairs;
• Fill in an application (not very long) and attach a digital photo of yourself;
• Push «send» and get your visa in four days as a maximum (weekends and holidays included);
• Enter to St. Petersburg or the Leningrad region through one of defined border crossing;
• Travel strictly within the region(s) for eight days as a maximum. The visa is issued for a 30-day period, but your stay is limited to eight;
• Leave Russia through one of defined border crossings.
There are two issues the Russian government will clear up by October, 1:
• which nationalities will be included in the e-visa for St. Petersburg / the Leningrad region?
• which border crossings will be permitted to enter and leave the country.
UPDATE: we covered the both issues in our follow-up news.
Regarding the list of countries whose citizens will be eligible for an electronic visa, we think it will to some degree repeat the one for Kaliningrad, which covers 53 countries, including the European Union. The presence of the Leningrad region which borders Estonia and Finland suggests the high probability that the EU will also be welcomed.
Important! What you will NOT see with an e-visa to St. Petersburg (provided all the limitations will remain):
• the Valaam archipelago, it’s in the Republic of Karelia;
• the city of Veliky Novgorod, it’s in the Novgorod region;
• the city of Pskov, it’s in the Pskov region.
• Moscow (the capital).
What you WILL be able to visit:
• the town of Vyborg;
• the town of Gatchina;
• all the boroughs of St. Petersburg, including Peterhof, Tsarskoe Selo, Kronstadt, etc.
Right now, there are only two ways to get a visa-free access to Russia:
• You arrive with the ferry Princess Anastasia and book a tour with the ferry company (Moby SPL);
• You arrive with a cruise company and buy a tour with a local travel agency or an individual guide.
In both cases, you are required to strictly stick to the program of your tour without the possibility to wander around the city on your own. Though in case you book an individual guide there is some… hmm… freedom (sapienti sat).
If you are not eligible for the e-visa, you need to obtain a traditional visa. For this you will need a Russian invitation letter applying to a Russian embassy or a consulate.