Russian Government kept its word. As of 1 October, citizens of 53 countries can apply for free electronic visas to enter Russia through road border posts in eastern Finland, Finnish airports or seaports and visit Saint Petersburg.
Those e-visas must be applied from the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. They can be used only once within a period of 30 days since the date of issue and allow travelers to stay up to eight days in the city of Saint Petersburg and the surrounding Leningrad Oblast (region). They cannot be used for example to visit the Republic of Karelia, which borders Finland further north, or to travel further east to Moscow.
By easing entry process from Finland, Russians expect that the number of visitors to Saint Petersburg will increase by 50%, from 8 to 12 million per year. At the same time, this new visa protocol will make possible to avoid time and bureaucracy costs.
North Korean allowed, UK and US excluded
The website of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has published the list of countries whose citizens can already apply for this type of free visa. Among the 53 countries included in the list there are 38 from Europe and all those that are currently part of the European Union (EU) except Great Britain, now immersed in the Brexit process.
Citizens of the United States cannot benefit of this advantage either.
The list specifies, for example, that nationals of Andorra, the Vatican, San Marino, North Macedonia or Liechtenstein are welcome when applying for one of the free visas to travel from Finland. Also citizens of some countries outside Europe, including Saudi Arabia, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea), Oman, China (including Taiwan), Kuwait or the Philippines.
Not for train trips
This new protocol allows to enter Russia by road through border posts located in southeast Finland. It also permits to travel by plane to Saint Petersburg Pulkovo airport and by using the ferries services at sea ports.
However, in this first stage are excluded the train trips on the high-speed Allegro service that connects Helsinki and Saint Pertersburg.
According to the Finnish Broadcasting Service (Yle), Russia has plans for a new passenger rail connection between the Finnish border city of Imatra and Saint Petersburg to be used mainly by travelers holding the digital document.
If you want to apply for a free e-visa to travel to Russia, you can do it HERE
List of states whose nationals can apply free e-visas
- China (including Taiwan)
- The Democratic People's Republic of Korea
- San Marino
- Saudi Arabia
- North Macedonia
- Czech Republic
If you want to consult this list of states in the website of the Russian Ministry of foreign affairs, you can do it HERE