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Heihe, in the north east of China is just across the river from the Russian city of Blagoveshchensk. There is a free trade agreement between the countries covering these two cities. Russians can enter Heihe here, and Chinese citizens can enter Blagoveshchensk without any visas. If I, as a British citizen with a residence permit in China, wanted to visit Blagoveshchensk would I also experience relaxed border controls?

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I searched both English and Russian language sites for this info yet couldn't produce anything definitive. Yet, I suspect, this visa-free regime doesn't apply to you. The simplified visa-free rules are specifically for Chinese and Russian citizens. As a British citizen you'll still need a visa to travel to Russia. –  Aleks G Aug 14 at 11:26

2 Answers 2

I searched both English and Russian language sites for this info yet couldn't produce anything definitive. The website of Russian Border Control does have some info about Russia-China border crossing in the Amur region, but, again I couldn't find anything specific. They do have information in Chinese and in English. Again, nothing definitive about non-Chinese citizens could be found on the English language site. I don't know Mandarin, so couldn't search that section.

Yet, I believe, this visa-free regime doesn't apply to you. The simplified visa-free rules are specifically for Chinese and Russian citizens, moreover, it only applies to Russian citizens whose passports were issued in the Blagoveshchensk region. Possibly, there's a similar restriction on Chinese citizens. As a British citizen you'll still need a visa to travel to Russia.

EDIT: I did a bit more research and found the relevant legal act. There are two specific acts of interest:

Стороны достигли принципиальной договоренности о распространении практики упрощенного пропуска граждан Китайской Народной Республики на основании действительных заграничных паспортов без оформления российских виз...

Translated approximately as:

Sides reached an agreement in principle about implementing the practice of simplified passage of citizens of People's Republic of China based on valid travel passports without the need for Russian visa.

Стороны достигли принципиальной договоренности о распространении практики упрощенного пропуска граждан Китайской Народной Республики на основании действительных заграничных паспортов без оформления российских виз...

Translated approximately as:

Sides reached an agreement in principle about implementing the practice of simplified passage of citizens of People's Republic of China based on valid travel passports without the need for Russian visa.

(I.e. this passage is the copy/paste of the passage from the former act.)

As you can see from these acts, the language is very clear and states "citizens [not residents] of the People's Republic of China" (my emphasis). Hence, as a British citizen, you will need a visa to visit Blagoveshchensk in Russia.

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There are several border regions in Russia where neighboring residents enjoy relaxed border crossing rules. They range from possibility to get a long-term visa when otherwise only a short-term one would have been granted, to complete visa-free travel in the specified region (never in the whole country). In all these cases, the relaxation applies only to citizens of the neighbor country. So I bet 99.9 to 0.1 that you'll need the usual visa.

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