Unlike its neighbours, Belarus is not part of the European Union Schengen travel zone. However, Belarus introduced visa free entry in 2017 and just recently extended this from 5 days to 30 for many visitors including UK, USA, Canada and Australia. See here for full list.
The capital, Minsk is starting to catch on as an alternative city break destination. With museums and quite an extensive dining scene, just 5 days will give you a good taste of life here. And what is great is the lack of tourists.
I only managed to take a short trip to Minsk but would definitely recommend coupling 2 to 3 days there with a day or two out of the city. Since July, permitted visitors (see list above) are entitled to the full 30 days of course – but do consider this option with caution.
It can apparently take the best part of a day to deal with all the paperwork etc, to register for more than 5 days. The 30 days is only permitted if you register within 5 days of arrival. I met a a guy on the plane that visits regularly for work, who advised me of this, and the issues that people have had. It’s not a quick process it seems.
- Hotels should do the registration for you but if you are staying in rented accommodation or with friends, for example, you will have to do this yourself.
- The day of arrival and departure are included in the days allowed.
- If you move accommodation you need to repeat the process again, within 5 days.
- You will need to pay a fee for the state duty.
- If you lose the migration card you will have to pay a fee.
It’s also important to note that whether you plan to enter for 5 days or more, and taking the visa free option, this is only permitted if arriving and exiting via the international airport in Minsk.
Those heading to the 2nd European games in 2019 will also be pleased to know visa free entry will be granted to participants, officials and organisers between 20 May and 10 July. Visitors with tickets can enter from 10 June to 10 July.
Full Belarus visa requirements can be found on the Belarus Embassy site but there is very little information to assist with registering after 5 days. I would stick to the 5 days and keep it simple.
Belarus has been gradually changing its visa free requirements. So, this further change from previous years will hopefully be amended again to allow border crossings. We really enjoyed our dual city break onto Vilnius, but it would have been much easier via train, to head over the border than fly.