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I'll be flying into Kazakhstan from Europe, and then flying from Astana to Tokyo with a stop in Novosibirsk, Russia. The Astana-Novosibirsk and Novosibirsk-Tokyo legs are on the same airline (S7) and the stop is only a couple of hours so I thought that I wouldn't need a visa.

However I then read that

Please note that if a foreign citizen travels across the territory of Russia to the countries of the Customs Union (Belorussia, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan) he is required to apply for a transit visa, unless he’s a citizen of countries eligible for visa-free travel to Russia in accordance with bilateral agreements.

(cf Do I need a visa for Russia if just transit through Moscow?)

It seems that the reason is that flights between Russia and Belorussia, Kazakhstan, Armenia, or Kyrgyzstan are considered domestic flights, so if one passes through Russia on to one of those countries he essentially enters Russia. However, I assume that his doesn't apply to flying OUT of one those countries via Russia? Since even if the Kazakhstan-Russia flight is considered domestic, I'd only ever be going OUT of Russia rather than IN?

Thanks!

  • I don't know for sure (so this is not an answer), but I'd expect the way it works is that without a visa you're not allowed to be present in Russia -- except specifically for sterile international transit zones in airports, which won't be where a pseudo-domestic flight from Kazakhstan arrives into. – Henning Makholm Jun 20 at 15:55
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    There are similar transit troubles with the British-Irish common travel area, and the desire to avoid them was a major driver for why the Schengen agreement was designed such that short-visit visas from any member country are valid for the entire zone by default. – Henning Makholm Jun 20 at 15:59
  • I don't follow your reasoning, here. Your default assumption should be "I will need a visa unless I'm visiting a country that's very friendly with my country." The text you quoted can be summarized as "Even if you're just in Russia to transit to Kazakhstan, you still need a visa." So why would you think that you wouldn't need a visa when you're just in Russia to transit from Kazakhstan? I certainly don't know the answer but the presumption has to be that you'll need a visa. – David Richerby Jun 20 at 16:34
  • @DavidRicherby are you talking to me (the OP)? I'm not visiting Russia. A reasonable assumption is "I don't need a visa if I will only be at the airport for a few hours transferring from one international flight to another." However, apparently that isn't the case for stopping in Russia to go to Kazakhstan for certain reasons; but, the case I describe is unclear. After all at which point am I likely to run into problems? Will the airline/Kazakh authorities prevent me from getting on the first flight? Does one go through immigration upon arriving in Russia from Kazakhstan? – Aqualone Jun 20 at 18:56
  • @Aqualone "I'm not visiting Russia." You're entering Russian territory, even if only briefly and only for the purpose of leaving again. "A reasonable assumption is 'I don't need a visa if I will only be at the airport for a few hours transferring from one international flight to another.'" No, that's not a reasonable assumption. The default situation is that, if you wish to set foot on a country's soil, you'll need a visa. If you need a visa and don't have it, you won't be allowed to board the plane. I don't know if you'll pass through immigration in Russia. – David Richerby Jun 20 at 19:19
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Answering my own question:

I have called the airline to confirm, and the answer is that in this kind of situation one does not need a visa provided that they stay in the international transit area of the airport for less than 24 hours.

see also for example

https://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/forums/asia-central-asia/kazakhstan/transiting-through-russia-as-u-s-citizen

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_policy_of_Russia#Visa-free_transit

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    How will you GET TO the international transit area of the airport if the flight you arrive on is "domestic"? – Henning Makholm Jun 20 at 19:48
  • In my case at least, my first flight will be arriving to the international terminal. In general I'm not sure how it works. I don't think Russia and Kazakhstan are in any sort of a schengen like system and I'm not sure in what sense some flights between them are considered domestic. – Aqualone Jun 20 at 22:42
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    I traveled from Kazakhstan to Europe via Russia without Russian visa. But as I learned, you need to do some research. It is not just being in transit, you should have an airport with such international transit area, and in the right terminals (connected). [So beware on small cities (departure), small airplanes] – Giacomo Catenazzi Jun 21 at 7:57

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