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I'm planning to fly from Europe to Minsk on 29 September, fly out from Minsk to St Petersburg on 1 October and go back from St Petersburg to Europe on 9 October with a layover (2 hours) in Minsk.

As I'm in a possession of Russian single-entry visa for my stay there, I have some doubts about required visa to Belarus. From what I see, "5-day visa-free regime" does not apply to me as I go to Russia directly from Belarus. But in this case, which visa is applicable for me ? Is single-entry visa enough taking into consideration my layover when going back (even though I won't leave the airport) ? Or should I apply for double-entry visa ? If the latter, how to overcome that my visa invitation letter states only 2 nights in Belarus ?

I will be using European Union passport but I have a residency outside EU, in case it makes any difference.

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Let's separate chaff from grain in your considerations at first. You have 3 legs in your trips:

  1. Europe - Belarus. You are arriving by air to MSQ, yeah?

5-day visa-free regime perfectly applies to this leg, no matter where you are heading further (to Russia, to Jamaica or somewhere else), except when you do direct transit to Russia, see next point.

  1. Belarus - Russia. Even a valid Russian visa doesn't give you permission to transit through Belarus visa-free.
  2. SPB - Belarus (2h) - Europe. I assume you are flying from LED to MSQ again, so you are eligible for visa-free transit as your hop is only 2 hours, whilst the allowed transit duration is 24h.

Transit passage (transit) of foreign citizens through the territory of the Republic of Belarus without transit visas is possible:
...
- when flying to the country of destination using international airlines with a stop-over at the airport of the Republic of Belarus, provided that the passengers have documents granting entry to the country of destination and air tickets with the confirmation of the date of departure from the transfer airport, if the period of stay in the territory of Belarus does not exceed 24 hours. In this case, the passengers are not allowed to leave the designated area of the airport;
...

UPDATE: after verification of a bunch of disjointed and controversial information regarding transit to Russia, the final conclusion is NO. Transit foreigners arriving in Minsk and departing to Russia are not covered by this visa-free regime, because BY-RU flights are loaded from domestic zones of MSQ airport and don't undergo border control.

This is also explained in this official comment in Deutsch or Russian (sorry, didn't find English version). Pay attention to fifth question in the above FAQ.

And, as ground BY-RU transit is totally prohibited to foreigners, your only escape is a full-featured entry/transit Belarusian visa.

The bottom line: going to Russia after being 5 days in Belarus is not equal to direct transit to Russia via Belarusian airport. The former is allowed without Belarusian visa, whilst the latter is does not.

  • 1
    Hi, all your analysis is correct. The only thing which concerns me is if you go to mfa.gov.by/en/visa/visafreetravel/e0ced19bb1f9bf2c.html, it says clearly "visa-free movement through the airport does not extend to persons [...] who intend to fly to the airports of the Russian Federation" – Mateusz Kowalski Jul 1 '17 at 21:25
  • Yes, my information was incorrect. The second leg is impossible without Belarusian entry visa. – Suncatcher Jul 2 '17 at 8:07
  • @MateuszKowalski added update – Suncatcher Jul 2 '17 at 8:20
  • Thanks a lot @Suncatcher. Any ideas if 3rd leg (LED - MSQ - Europe) requires that my Belariusian visa is double-entry ? – Mateusz Kowalski Jul 2 '17 at 17:56
  • @MateuszKowalski, no, all other legs are exactly as described. 2h-hop doesn't require a visa. It's a pure transit. – Suncatcher Jul 2 '17 at 20:02
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After taking the trip, for the future generations coming here from Google:

1) For the flight Europe–MSQ, one goes through immigration in Belarus (as expected) and gets an entry stamp. Single-entry visa is accepted in this case. Visa-free regime cannot be used, as the next destination is Russia.

2) For the flight MSQ–LED, one does not pass Belarus exit immigration, but does go through entry immigration in Russia. This means no exit stamp from Belarus and an entry stamp in Russia.

3) For the flight LED–MSQ, one goes through exit immigration in Russia, but does not go through immigration in Minsk. This means an exit stamp from Russia, but no entry stamp in Belarus. No any check takes place in Minsk; one leaves the plane directly to the non-secure zone of the airport.

At this moment please do note the state of entry/exit stamps - Russian part is clear (both entry and exit stamps), but so far the traveller has never got the Belarusian exit stamp.

4) For the flight MSQ-Europe, one crosses the border in Belarus, but the dates do not match at this moment - visa was valid only till the day of the flight to Russia, whereas the border is crossed at the day of the flight back to the Europe. This raises the questions and the real date of leaving Belarus has to be proven with the boarding pass MSQ–LED.

The Belarusian exit stamp is given with the current date, what causes the dates from stamps and visa not matching each other. Every trip to Belarus will require explaining this situation.

Just please note, none of this has caused any inconveniences. This is just a very unusual route for the foreigner and as such, has to be handled manually.

  • " but the dates do not match at this moment - visa was valid only till the day of the flight to Russia" You mean because of the Russian entry stamp? Like you said you don't get a Belarusian Exit stamp – Crazydre Dec 10 '17 at 23:46
  • The problem comes from lack of the exit stamp when leaving Belarus - one has to have another proof of leaving the country before the visa expiration date; the boarding pass was okay for them, don't know though if the Russian entry stamp is a sufficient proof of leaving Belarus for them – Mateusz Kowalski Dec 12 '17 at 9:57
  • I assume life can be made easier if one gets a longer Belarus visa? For example, a 30 day Belarus visa that would cover both the Belarus trip and Russia trip? Therefore, the exit stamp date would never be after visa expiration date? – kiradotee Oct 6 at 14:23
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I intend this to be a comment to Suncatcher's answer, but because I'm a new user, I'm not allowed to comment(rep < 50). 5 day visa free transit cannot be used if the destination after entering Belarus is Russia. There are (generally) no passport checks between Belarus and Russia.

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I did a research on the matter from here in Minsk.

  1. Foreigners must cross through international checkpoints in either direction: there is only one land crossing (and nothing there) at the BY-RU border and it's unpractical which limits all other options to flights.

  2. There is passport control in Russia, but not necessarily an efficient one - a US traveler recently handed in the second part of his migration card in Russia though he was leaving for Belarus (don't do that - keep it). There is no inbound border control for flights from Russia here in Minsk.

  3. BY-RU flights are no longer domestic.

I hope that makes sense)

A

  • Comment after taking the trip -- (1) is not correct; foreigner flying from Minsk to Russia DOES NOT cross any border check in Belarus, but DOES cross one in Russia – Mateusz Kowalski Dec 10 '17 at 21:34
  • This does very little to actually answer the questions posed. – Jan Dec 13 '17 at 14:24

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