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Citizens of 18 countries granted visa-free travel to Russian Far East

Last week saw Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev sign a decree enabling citizens of 18 countries to travel to the Russian Far East without a visa, effective from August 2017 – a move that will interest many of those contemplating applications for Russian business visas and tourist visas alike.

Indeed, the Ministry of Far East Development has cited a particular wish to attract more tourists to the region, Deputy Minister for the Development of the Far East Pavel Volkov having told Russian news agency TASS that it was hoping for an at least 30% increase in tourism.

“Given the fact that every wealthy tourist spends at least $1,000 in the territory, we assume this will significantly increase the opportunities for the development of the region, trade turnover, and currency flows.”

What will be the immediate effects of the lifting of visa requirements?

The 18 countries from which visa-free travel to the extreme east parts of Russia will now be possible include Algeria, Bahrain, Brunei, India, Iran, Qatar, China, North Korea, Kuwait, Morocco, Mexico, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Tunisia, Turkey and Japan.

The change will mean that visitors from the aforementioned countries will be subject to simplified entry procedures into Russia through the free port of Vladivostok.

Volkov said tourists and entrepreneurs would only be required to complete and submit a form on the website of Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with applications being approved in four days. Electronic single entry visas will be valid for 30 days and issued directly at the Russian border.

Prime Minister Medvedev commented: “We are proactively forming the modern infrastructure and creating special regimes in the Far East; the law on visits to the free port of Vladivostok was approved in March.”

He said that removing the need for both Russian business visas and tourist visas would “promote the growth of investment and tourist attractiveness of the Far East.”

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