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I have an upcoming trip to Moscow and initially planned to continue my journey to Minsk and onwards to Vienna by train. I have a Russian visa and was planning to apply for a Belarussian one as well. I am on an Austrian passport.

Researching the trip further, I realized that it's apparently not possible for foreigners to cross the Russia/Belarus border by land.

So my questions are:

  1. Is this still the case as of May 2019?
  2. Are there any problems when I fly instead: Moscow-Minsk-Vienna?
  3. What about flying Moscow-Minsk and then leaving Belarus by train (to Poland)?

Update I understand that there is visa-free travel to Belarus when arriving at Minsk airport but it explicitly excludes arriving from (or leaving to) Russia.

To sum up my situation:

  • I can't legally take the train from Moscow to Minsk (even with visas for both countries)
  • I can't fly (while using the visa-free programme)

The question that remains is: Can I enter Belarus via plane from Russia if I hold valid visas for both countries or in other words do I go through immigration when taking such a flight? I understand that Russia used to treat these flights as domestic and that the lack of exit/entry stamps might cause all sorts of problems (that is if you're even allowed to board such a flight as a foreigner).

It appears these flights are now considered international. Can someone confirm whether this is still the case? If so would this allow me to fly into Belarus without problems? If yes again, could I leave Belarus by either train or flight afterwards?

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As far as I know by searching for a similar trip (researched options in both directions, on land and air) it should be okay. If you go by plane and arrive at the airport already holding a Belarus Visa, you should be correctly registered as having left the Russian Federation and entered Belarus legally.

If you want to be extra sure you can fly Moscow - EU - Minsk - Vienna, but it should not be neccessary.

Sources e.g. TripAdvisor - Flying from Moscow to Minsk for foreigners, TripAdvisor - crossing belarus / russian border for foreigners.

Be sure to either already have the mandatory medical insurance valid for Belarus, or buy at the airport as advised here: TripAdvisor - Medical insurance in Minsk airport.


When exactly is your trip?

If between June 10 and July 10, the European Games Minsk 2019 make it possible to also go via some land border crossings if you have a ticket (best to take a train from Moscow to Minsk probably). This should also apply to flying. I have contacted them (they are a government committee, so have some authority over the info) and they confirmed that an Austrian Citizen can fly from Kaliningrad, should thus also apply to other origins in Russia.

I haven't checked but there seems to be a list of crossings you can use. It should still be better for you to fly, but taking a train with RZD is an option. The train route from Moscow is on the list as far as I could see.

Sources: LonelyPlanet - European Games and transiting Russia, TripAdvisor - Visa-free transit for European games Minsk

Ticket holders are covered by a mutual agreement of Russia and Belarus and don't need a visa for both countries. As you already have a Russian Visa, it may be a good option as the event is in Belarus and their border guards are sure to honor the agreement.

If you do get a ticket, you must register it here so information is shared with Russia: registration form Source: [...] Visa-Free Entry To 2nd European Games - belarusfeed.com

I have 3 tickets available and can give you one for free if you want as I couldn't convince enough friends to accompany me on the trip.

  • Thank you! Yes I found out about the European Games on the webpage of the Indonesian embassy. I am considering this. – martin May 17 at 10:40
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During the European Games 2019 you don't need a Belarusian visa just a ticket for any event. Don't forget to register it here. Otherwise, a Belarusian visa is required and you can only enter by air.


My own experience covers the first case (visa-free scheme during the European Games). I flew to Minsk from Zhukovsky airport in Moscow. The Belavia staff wasn't immediately aware of the exact rules but after checking the Travel Information Manual and a few phone calls they let me board with my ticket (and without a visa).

There was passport control before departure and I got a Russian exit stamp. In Minsk, I just walked out of the airport without any checks. On leaving Belarus at Minsk airport I showed my passport and the ticket for the European Games and got an exit stamp. They also stamped and kept my Russian immigration card.


Before embarking on the trip, I did some research which might be helpful:

I contacted the Belarusian embassy in Jakarta:

"Is it possible to travel from Moscow to Minsk by plane and which visa do I need?" Visa of Belarus and visa of Russia. In case you transit in Moscow for Belarus you may not require visa of Russian Federation (please check transfer airport rules). If you stay in Belarus up to 2 days you may ask for Belarus transit visa, details are below.

"Is it possible to travel from Moscow to Minsk by land transport (bus, train) and which visa do I need?" Train – yes. Car and bus – no.

You may check updated rules of crossing border from Russia to Belarus directly with the consular section of the Embassy of Australia in Russia.

According to Belarus visa rules you may enter and exit Belarus at any checkpoint.

According to Russian visa rules Russia-Belarus border has additional control for foreign citizens.

An interesting detail is the following paragraph:

Taking practice into account there are no problems for traveling from Russia to Belarus with international train after entering Russia via international checkpoint of the Russian Federation. Problems arise when foreign citizens try to cross border of the Russian Federation from Belarus by land coach (car, bus, train). Russian border guards in these cases deny exiting Russia and sent to Russia– Latvia border.

Nevertheless, it is suggested to check this with Consular section of the Embassy of Russian Federation when submitting documents for Russian visa.

I then contacted the Australian embassy in Moscow:

We recommend that you refer to the Entry and Exit section of the travel advisory on Belarus published on Smartraveller website, which states that:

  • Visa-free entry (into Belarus) doesn't apply to travellers arriving from, or travelling to, Russia. If you're travelling to Belarus through Russia, you'll need to get a Russian transit visa in addition to your visa for Belarus. For information on Russian visas, contact the nearest Embassy of Russia.

  • Foreigners aren't permitted to cross the land border between Belarus and Russia. Don't enter or exit Belarus by the land border with Russia. Travel between Belarus and Russia by air. Contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus and the Embassy of Russia for up-to-date information.

This is the most up to date official advice provided by Russian authorities, and there has been no changes to date.

Both also pointed me to the visa-free regime during the European Games in Minsk. With some restrictions, this allows transiting to and from Russia not just by air but also by land transport. Information is available on the homepage of the European Games as well as on the official government web page. Some useful FAQs are also available on BelarusFeed:

  1. Visa-free entry into and exit from Belarus at all border points (air and road), temporary stay on the territory of Belarus and transit through Russia shall be provided:

1.1. from 20 May to 10 July 2019 for all participants of the Games, WADA officials, foreign anti-doping experts, foreign volunteers, artists and performers, administrative and technical staff involved in the preparation and staging of the Games [...];

1.2. from 10 June to 10 July 2019 for foreign tourists who are citizens of the states listed in the Appendix to the Order of the President of the Republic of Belarus No. 8 d/d 9 January 2017 "On Visa-Free Entry and Exit for Foreign Citizens" [this is a list of 74 countries including Austria]

[...]

Crossing the land border of Russia and Belarus in both directions is possible on the following international road and rail routes.

International Road Routes Redki – Krasnaya Gorka (M-1 Minsk – Moscow) Ezerishche – Nevel (M-8/E 95 (border of Russia (Ezerishche) – Vitebsk – Gomel – border of Ukraine (New Huta) / P-23 Kiev – St. Petersburg) Selishche – Novozybkov (M-1 (border of Russia (Selishche) – Gomel – Kobrin) / A-240 Gomel – Bryansk)

International Railway Routes Ezerishche – Nevel (Vitebsk – Pskov) Osinovka – Krasnoe (Minsk – Smolensk) Region Zakopytye – Zlynka (Gomel – Bryansk)

From the ticketing team of the European Games, I got this information when asking about Russian exit stamps when crossing by train:

As far as we informed the whole procedure at all borders including the stamps at the passports will be implemented during the visa-free period from 10th of June till 10th July.

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    > On leaving Belarus at Minsk airport I showed my passport and the ticket for the European Games and got an exit stamp. They also stamped and kept my Russian immigration card. / I wasn't able to go myself, but my colleague was and with the exception of some uncertainty at the Lithuania / Kaliningrad border everything went fine. The Belarusians did not stamp and take his immigration card on exit to Ukraine though. Thanks for pointing it out, I will tell him to contact a consulate. – JakeDot Jun 24 at 8:23
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    Your answer, while helpful, still contains a lot of uncertainty. "It should be ok" is not what I was looking for when asking this which is why I didn't want to accept it yet, hoping someone else would have more information. In my opinion, this kind of questions needs definitive answers from embassies, immigration officials or people who travel the route frequently. That's why I thought (and, in hindsight, I was probably wrong) my own experience would justify a separate answer. – martin Jul 12 at 8:49
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    That said, I think the only acceptable answer to this question should be: "Go ask your embassy". When I learned one thing from this trip it's that immigration law is one thing, how it's applied in practice at any given point in time can be a different story. – martin Jul 12 at 8:49
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    Surely you found while doing your own research that for this specific question/answer, there simply was no certainty involved, with the specifics only getting published a few days before the games started, and I included the info into my answer as soon as I became aware of it. – JakeDot Jul 12 at 9:14
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    My next question would be whether there should be an agreed-upon community answer regarding Russia-Belarus border crossings. There are many posts (and mine probably didn't help much either) basically asking the same or very similar questions which will have one (more or less vague) answer today and might have another one a few months or years from now. I feel like we should "answer" this kind of questions once and for all and keep the status quo updated there. – martin Jul 12 at 9:21

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