20 May 2020 15:00

Russia's liberalized visa system to be available to 4 bln people in 2021

MOSCOW. May 20 (Interfax) - Russia's liberalized visa system will become available to nearly half of the global population in 2021, which will make Russia one of the countries most open to travelers, the Russian Foreign Ministry's Consular Department said.

"Starting in 2021, the most liberal regime for entry into Russia, which does not require visas in passports, will apply to nearly half the global population, about 4 billion people," the department said in a statement on Facebook.

E-visas will be issued to citizens of countries which will be listed by the Russian government. This list has yet to be drawn up. The project is in its trial run in the Far Eastern Federal District, the Kaliningrad region, St. Petersburg, and the Leningrad region, where e-visas may be received by citizens of 53 nations, including EU member states, China, Japan, India, Turkey, and others. Citizens of another 60 countries may visit Russia visa-free on the basis of bilateral agreements.

"As a result, Russia will be a country with one of the most open visa systems. Russia's visa openness index stands at 37.5, compared to the European average of 24, North America's average of 15, Africa's 31, and the Asia Pacific region's 42," the statement said.

Russia's e-visa fee will not exceed $50 starting in January 2021. Visas will be issued within four calendar days of the date on which an application is filed on the Russian Foreign Ministry's website. They may be used for traveling to Russia within the next 60 days. The period of stay is limited to 16 days. An e-visa will be valid throughout the territory of Russia.

The bill, which introduces e-visas throughout Russia on January 1, 2021, was approved by the government in April and submitted to the State Duma. Now, it will undergo three hearings at the State Duma and will be signed by the president before relevant normative acts are drafted and the list of eligible countries is composed.