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Due to recent news about Belarus-Russia border closure to foreigners. Has anyone with Russian visa or residence permit run into problems getting back into Russia after visiting Belarus?
I'm concerned since I travel to Minsk from Moscow quite often and I wouldn't want to be in a situation where I will be forced to travel to Latvia or Ukraine so I can get back into Russia.

  • Several additional questions: do you have Russian and Belarusian visas? of which types? – Suncatcher Oct 12 '16 at 8:45
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    I have Russian residence permit and Belarusian visa as well. In the past, I could move freely between two countries without a passport control and once was stopped by Belarusian authority for document check at the airport. So that's why I'm asking if anyone has run into problems recently before I make plans to travel to Belarus from Moscow. I don't want to be stopped at Russian checkpoint upon returning to Russia and told to enter Russia from Ukraine or Latvia. That will add more time to my travel plans and expenses. – Scott K Oct 12 '16 at 11:34
  • @ScottK Nearly three years later, what are your experiences? – gerrit Jul 10 '19 at 12:26
  • Related: travel.stackexchange.com/q/141811/2509 – gerrit Jan 10 at 14:54
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The main point of the news you're talking about is that foreigners should use border checkes during traveling between two countries, and that there are no such borders checks while traveling by car or train, because of "union" of the two states, so, even if you have sufficient documents to get back into Russia, there could be no person able to check them at the border. So, you could try to get back to Russia by plane, as there is border checks in the airports (still may be not an option, you should contact the officials for this).

Update:
Some decisions of Russian aren't understandable. More on that: there is a train from Ukraine to Russia via Belarus, and foreigners can use that because there will be a border check at the end. But if you're traveling by car, no one can guarantee you will pass border because Russia set up different rules for foreigners and Belarus residents. No-visa agreement was setup only for Belarus residents, as it appears right now, not for everybody.

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  • Most flights between Minsk and Moscow are domestic, therefore, no passport control but sometimes they do have someone at the arrival gate to quickly check passports without stamping it. That could be the case at Moscow airport. – Scott K Oct 12 '16 at 1:50
  • @pnuts We are not talking about Texas, right? Updated the answer. – VMAtm Oct 12 '16 at 12:05
  • Does this mean all trains from France, Poland, etc. to Russia through Belarus are now off-limits? – gerrit Oct 12 '16 at 12:15
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    One thing I don't like about Russia is their rules are unclear without considering the repercussions and often times are interpreted differently by officials. – Scott K Oct 12 '16 at 14:03
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    @VMAtm Строгость российских законов компенсируется необязательностью их выполнения - Heaviness of Russian law does get compensated by inecessity to comply with it... – Matas Vaitkevicius Oct 13 '16 at 8:21
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Belarus-Russia border crossing should be fully legal as of 2020-07-01

As of 2020-07-01, Belarus and Russia reportedly recognise each others visas:

Foreign Ministers Vladimir Makei and Sergey Lavrov signed the agreement on mutual recognition of visas between Belarus and Russia in Minsk on Friday, 19 June.

Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei explained that the document provides for full mutual recognition of national visas and other documents related to the entry and stay of foreign nationals.

“Now foreign citizens have the opportunity to visit both countries with the national visa of one of them. Thus, the agreement removes the problems of third-country nationals crossing the Belarusian-Russian land border,” said Makei.

Under the agreement, foreign citizens with a Belarusian visa will be able to freely enter Russia and, vice versa, holders of Russian visas will be allowed to enter Belarus. Foreign visitors will reportedly be able to travel by air, rail and car.

Source: Belarus And Russia Sign Agreement On Mutual Visa Recognition, Belarus Feed, accessed 2020-07-05. Also reported by the Belarusian Telegraph Agency, TASS, and intourist.

Warning as of 2020-07-07: another source in Russian, dated 2020-07-01, states it will take several more months until it actually takes force. These sources contradict each other. Either it's already in force, or it will be soon (and as of July 2020, the 2019-2021 Coronavirus Pandemic means few travellers will make this trip anyway).


2019-2021 Coronavirus pandemic note: Russia and Belarus may still have different COVID-19 entry restrictions, but this is independent of the new visa regime. At the time of writing (2020-07-05), most foreigners are banned from entering Russia but allowed to enter Belarus, and the Russian-Belarusian border may still be closed to everybody. Now is not a good time to travel as a tourist to either country, but the new visa regime is good news for international travellers once the situation normalises.

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there is no passport control at the airport in Moscow if you go to Minsk ! You need a Russian visa if going through Moscow/ St. Petersburg to Minsk. I have just talked to the Russian embassy in Berlin regarding this... they do not know anything. A regulation like that would result in "no direct travel between Russia and Belarus, because there is no control in trains neither

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    @pnuts The other answer says that the problem is that citizens of third-party states must have their documents checked when moving between Belarus and Russia. This is given as the reason why they can no longer drive across the border, since there are no border checks. If there are also no document checks when flying, that would suggest that flying is also not allowed. – David Richerby Oct 12 '16 at 12:47
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    If they have checkpoint at the airport, they can simply escort foreigner to passport control or they could instruct the airlines to not to accept foreigners traveling to Russia from Belarus. Airlines do check passport and visa at check-ins before boarding the plane and they could tell the passenger they will need to book a different route to Russia. I'm guessing this might happen but don't know how its being done right now if they're enforcing it somehow. – Scott K Oct 12 '16 at 13:28
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Both VMAtm answer and Skott K assumptions are wrong here.

So, you could try to get back to Russia by plane, as there is border check in the airports.

Yes, there is border check in the airport but you won't be allowed to enter Belarus anyway. Russian visa gives no allowance to do that and Belarusian Consular Office in airport don't make visas to foreigners who arrive from Russian flights.
So you won't be able to obtain visa even in airport, you should get it prior to your arrival!

All possible grounds when you are excused from obtaining transit visas are listed in paragraph four of the Resolution of Council of Ministers of Belarus about transit, and RU-BY flights (and vice versa) are not among them.

If you are not eligible to any of this grounds you need Belarussian visa (either transit or entry), no matter of way you arrive Belarus (ground or air).

UPDATE: what concerns Russian or non-Russian planes (as suggested by pnuts), Russian Embassy in Belarus gives zero clarification about this:

Пассажирам, следующим авиарейсами через Россию из Беларуси и в Беларусь, следует обратить внимание на необходимость наличия транзитной российской визы независимо от времени пребывания в российском аэропорту, если они летят федеральным (внутренним) рейсом из России в Беларусь или обратно.


Passengers who use flights from/to Belarus through Russia should pay attention to the requirement of transit Russian visa disregard of duration of stay in Russian airport, whether they fly by federal (domestic) flight from Russia to Belarus or vice versa.

There is NO mention about carrier of flight or whatever.

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  • If he is legally there then the only possible transport mode for him is air flights. – Suncatcher Oct 12 '16 at 17:29
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    There is no border checks at Minsk airport for domestic flights from Russia but I always have Belarusian visa before I visit. I know this since I've flown to Minsk from Moscow before. They do have random checks for arrivals in Minsk airport but not always. I never seen random checks in Moscow (Domodedovo) airport. – Scott K Oct 12 '16 at 17:33
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    I agree. I rather wait to see how they interpret this rule and they need to clarify about foreigners in Russia visiting Belarus as they have not left the union. I imagine many foreigners decided to visit Russia without obtaining Russian visa when they entered Belarus from abroad. – Scott K Oct 12 '16 at 18:02
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    Yes, it feels somewhat accurate and represents the meaning quite well. – Suncatcher Oct 12 '16 at 18:24
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    @ScottK, you are wrong saying "Belarusian transit visa is always required". The resolution given in my answer clearly states that it is not. The same 24h gap is true for Belarus as well. – Suncatcher Oct 12 '16 at 19:01

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