When filling out a form for a Russian visa, there is a specific question asking if I will be flying directly into a city called Nizhnii Novgorod from outside of Russia. I am not, but I think it's weird and wondered why they are asking. I find some information about this on the web:

If you are flying directly into Nizhnii Novgorod from outside of Russia, for example from Vienna, and wish to use a tourist visa, this now requires a special voucher. Processing time is one business day and the cost is an additional £45.00 on top of the standard visa charge. Please make sure that when ordering you select Nizhnii Novgorod as your arrival city, and enter “flying direct” into the comments box.

But I do not find any other “official” comment or explanation of the reason. Is it just some sort of local (city) tax, or are there security reasons for requiring a specific visa for this city? (and then, only if you fly in, but not if you take the train/bus/car)


2 Answers 2


Nizhni Novgorod used to be a military stronghold with a very large production capacity for weapons. This is why it was closed under Soviet rule from 1959 to 1991 so foreigners could not travel there. Also Russian nationals were strongly limited, some of them went there into exile.

Many cities were closed at one point in time and some still are. Nizhni Novgorod still today has some leftovers of this status and his therefore restricted. You need an invitation from "inside" the city to be allowed to enter from outside the country. It's a legacy they did not get rid of until today.

  • 5
    How does it work by train? The Trans-Siberian railway passes through Nizhni Novgorod.
    – gerrit
    Jun 18, 2013 at 12:47
  • 6
    The issue arises only if you have a direct flight from abroad. Weird, but true.
    – uncovery
    Jun 18, 2013 at 13:15
  • 5
    @gerrit This is a historical thing that hasn't been changed because noone wanted to bother.
    – Karlson
    Jun 18, 2013 at 13:44
  • 3
    I am sorry to say that, but you're no less than translating hearsay. There are no leftovers of the former restricted status of NN. Technically, if you are a visa national, all of your traveling in Russia must be covered by an invitation or a tourist voucher. NN is no exception, but that all there is to it. Once you've got a visa, you can fly or come any way you prefer and lots of foreigners do so as a matter of fact.
    – ach
    Feb 14, 2014 at 11:20

The information on that site is likely fraudulent (note that there's a phone number of local travel firms which you are expected to call to get a "voucher"). Nizhny Novgorod is NOT a closed or restricted city and there are no specific limitations, at least legal, on visiting it. You can find a complete list of closed cities on Wikipedia. It's better to use only official information about Russian visas.


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