Russia Suspends New e-Visa Scheme Due to Corona Pandemic

Russia has temporarily suspended its exciting new e-visa programme due to the ongoing corona pandemic.

Russian visa

Russia has always had the reputation among travellers of being one of the more difficult countries to visit due to its cumbersome visa process.

Although I never had any problems applying for a Russia visa, it is a time-consuming process and I can certainly imagine it being a hassle for many.

As I always enjoyed my visits to Russia, I was therefore happy to hear last year that the Russian Government was planning to introduce a new e-visa system for nationals from 52 different countries in 2021.

hermitage st petersburg russia
The world famous Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg. ©Paliparan

Suspension

The Russian Government has now announced that the e-visa programme has been temporarily suspended.

According to the Moscow Times, tourism authorities revealed that the new electronic visa system is suspended until further notice because of the coronavirus pandemic.

On the website of the Russian e-visa portal, a message now confirms the suspension. It reads: “In order to ensure the security of the state, protect public health and prevent the spread of a new coronavirus infection in the Russian Federation, the issuance of electronic visas has been temporarily suspended. If the situation changes, government decisions will be made.”

russia visa corona
Aeroflot planes at Moscow Sheremetyevo airport. ©Paliparan

Closed borders

As Russia had already closed its borders to most foreign visitors, the decision to temporarily suspend the e-visa scheme doesn’t come as a big surprise.

Only a select few nationalities, as well as certain categories of foreign citizens, can currently travel to Russia according to the Moscow Times.

This is linked to air traffic restrictions, as airline companies are only allowed to operate flights from cities in the Russian Federation to a select few countries.

russia visa corona
View over the Russian city of Irkutsk in the icy cold Siberian winter. ©Paliparan

Future

Although Russia is currently one of the most sealed off countries in the world, there is good hope that once the corona virus pandemic eases restrictions will be lifted.

The Russian tourism industry has been hit hard by the pandemic and could definitely use foreign visitors to bring in money.

The e-visa scheme was already in the works before corona hit, and I can only imagine that there are now even more reasons to push ahead with it once the public health situation allows for it.

Russia is a fabulous country to visit and there is so much more to see than just Moscow and St. Petersburg alone. The vast country is full of exciting cities and natural wonders which would make for a wonderful trip once corona restrictions ease.

I for one certainly plan to visit Russia a couple of times when the visa procedure is brought back to a simple online application once the corona virus pandemic has finally receded! Let’s hope that the temporary suspension of the e-visa programme is indeed really temporary!

koen red square moscow
I always enjoyed visiting Russia and would gladly make use of the simple and straightforward electronic visa to visit more places across the vast territories of the Russian Federation. ©Paliparan

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Koen

Koen works as a freelance journalist covering south-eastern Europe and is the founding father and editor-in-chief of Paliparan. As a contributor to some major Fleet Street newspapers and some lesser known publications in the Balkans, he travels thousands of miles each year for work as well as on his personal holidays. Whether it is horse riding in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan mountains, exploring the backstreets of Bogotá, or sipping a glass of moschofilero in a Greek beachside taverna, Koen loves to immerse himself into the local culture, explore new places and eat and drink himself around the world.

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