Visa-free travel to Russia

Several countries now have bilateral agreements in place with the Russian Federation to allow visa-free travel to Russia for their citizens. Unfortunately, however, there is no indication that similar agreements will be reached with the EU, the US, or the UK any time soon.

If you are not a citizen of one of the countries below and do not hold a diplomatic passport, the only other way to visit the Russian Federation without a visa is on a cruise ship to St. Petersburg. This exemption allows you to stay in the city for up to 72 hours without a visa on the condition that you are sleeping on the ship and are accompanied at all times by a licensed tour guide. If your cruise calls in St. Petersburg for 48 or 72 hours, there are companies offering shore tours which include a day in Moscow.

The same visa-free regime is applied to passengers on ferries from Helsinki and Tallinn operated by the company St. Peter Line, although in the case of ferry passengers you need to book your own accommodation. Again, it is possible within the 72 hours to visit Moscow as well. You can find out more about visa-free tours to Moscow and St. Petersburg here.

Nationalities which can travel to Russia without visas are divided into four groups with different requirements and different limitations on length of stay for each group. Even if you do not need a visa to enter Russia, you will certainly need a passport valid for at least six months after the date of your proposed exit from Russia, and you may require other official documents. You will also, like all foreign travelers in Russia, still need to register with the Federal Migration Service upon arrival.

Group 1

Countries: Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan.

Citizens of the countries of the CIS (the Commonwealth of Independent States) are permitted to stay in the Russian Federation for up to 90 days without a visa.

Group 2

Countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Israel, Nicaragua, Peru, Venezuela.

Citizens of these countries are allowed to stay in the Russian Federation without a visa for up to 90 days in each 180-day period, provided they will not be involved in any commercial or work-related activities during their stay.

Group 3

Countries: Cuba, Montenegro, Serbia (with biometric passport), Thailand, Turkey (total amount of days in Russia not exceeding 90 in each 180-day period), Hong Kong SAR (up to 14 days), Macao SAR.

Citizens of the countries in this group can stay in the Russian Federation for up to 30 days without a visa. They are not entitled to work while in Russia.

Group 4

Countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia.

Citizens of these Balkan countries can also stay in Russia without a visa for up to 30 days, but must also show tourist documents (tourist confirmation and tourist voucher) or an official invitation to immigration officials.