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I am traveling by train from Nice, France to Moscow, which goes through Belarus but I am not disembarking anywhere along the route.

I have a Russian visa. Do I need a transit visa for Belarus?

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Basically, it is quite possible that you just cannot go at all. Russia and Belarus have had a Union State for some 20 years, with no border controls between them. All went well for years; third-country nationals filled a common Russo-Belarussian migration card and were admitted at Belarussian border and then proceeded to Russia without any delay or hindrance.

However, in October 2016 Russian government made a declaration that according to its view of the Union State treaty, simplified border crossing means that all border crossing points between Belarus and Russia are bilateral instead of multilateral and only citizens of the Union State may cross it legally. A number of Ukrainians and Poles who crossed into Russia through Belarus were detained, tried for unlawful presence and then expelled. Lots of Polish trucks were turned back on the main road connecting Warsaw, Minsk and Moscow.

So, technically, according to the Russian govt's current interpretation of Russo-Belarussian border setup, no third-country national may legally cross that border, be that by train, car, bus or plane.

  • Does it state this applies to train travellers as well? According to my sources in Minsk, it is currently only actually enforced on the roads – Crazydre Dec 9 '16 at 16:15
  • Well, I suppose they must let it go as it always went on the railway, otherwise they'd severely disrupt its operation and business. However, as I said before, some third-country nationals were detained inside Russia for having crossed the border. Of course, these are campaigns against nationals of those countries whose policy enrages the Führer the most. Who knows, you may find yourself in the ranks quite unexpectedly. – ach Dec 9 '16 at 16:25
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Yes you do. It is only when transiting airports without entering the country that you don't need a visa. With a few exceptions, when entering any country by land, you need at least a transit visa.

This is also stated on the GOV.UK website: you need a Belarusian transit visa.

Furthermore, one should bear in mind that Belarus and Russia (which share a common border) have introduced a restriction whereby only citizens of these countries can cross the border. However, this is currently only enforced on the roads, and not when travelling by rail.

  • When the UK Government travel advice pages say "You need a visa", they mean "British citizens need a visa". The asker doesn't give their nationality and Belarus almost certainly has different regulations for citizens of different countries. (For example, citizens of former Soviet countries are likely to get preferential treatment.) Also, there are many exceptions to your claim that transit visas are almost always required. – David Richerby Dec 5 '16 at 9:53
  • I highly doubt he is a citizen of former USSR, otherwise he wouldn't ask such questions. For all other (NORAM/EU) citizens Belarus does no distinction. – Suncatcher Dec 5 '16 at 11:31
  • @DavidRicherby Technically everything is possible and I have seen stranger distinctions but the main point is that there is no general visa exemptions for trains crossing the country, which is what the OP appeared to be counting on. I think citing a high-quality source stating this explicitly is useful, even if it's only indirectly relevant to most people. – Relaxed Dec 5 '16 at 16:25
  • Incidentally, we do know the OP needed a Russian visa and a quick look at the relevant Wikipedia articles suggest that there is no country whose citizens enjoy visa-free or simplified access to Belarus without also having visa-free access to Russia (at least for short touristic visits; the OP could theoretically have a Russian visa because he or she wants to stay longer or visit for other reasons). – Relaxed Dec 5 '16 at 16:27
  • @Relaxed OK but none of that information is included in the answer and it relies on a much lower quality source than what's in the answer. – David Richerby Dec 5 '16 at 16:33

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