Putin Requests Electronic Visa System for Foreign Visitors by January 2021

Foreign citizens hoping to enter Russia will have a new electronic visa available beginning January 1, 2021, after Russian President Vladimir Putin has requested the system to be ready at an earlier date, Kommersant reports.

President Vladimir Putin has tasked the government to increase tourism revenue to $15.5 billion by 2024.

Previously, Russia’s national project on Digital Economy called for the e-visa regime to be rolled out nationwide by December 2021.

The visa would be single-use and short-term, allowing its holders to visit Russia once for up to 16 days. It would cover tourist, business, and humanitarian purposes as well as visits to friends or family, the business newspaper wrote.

However, only citizens of a limited number of countries will likely have access to the new electronic visas. That list includes China, South Korea, Japan, all Schengen Zone countries, and potentially New Zealand but not the UK, Canada, or the U.S.

Free electronic visas are currently available to citizens of 18 countries for up to eight-day visits to Russia’s Far East region. On July 1, paid electronic visas will become available to citizens of an as-yet-unspecified set of countries for visits to Kaliningrad Region, the Russian enclave wedged between Lithuania and Poland.

Unlike the e-visas issued for visiting the Far East and the Kaliningrad region, the all-Russia electronic visa won’t be free of charge and will cost up to $50.

In the future, such visas could become multiple. A special mobile application is being planned for the convenience of customers, according to Deputy Head of the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Communications Oleg Pak.

He said that Russia has the experience of hosting the 2018 soccer World Cup, when foreigners entered the country without a visa if they carried a Fan ID. That experience and equipment will be used for providing services for the visa online service, said Pak.