From Russia to Belarus: crossing the border
The Belarus-Russia border is tricky for a foreigner. What transport can foreign traveler use? Does the visa-free rule apply for this border? These are some of the frequently asked questions of the travelers planning a trip to Belarus and Russia.
There is virtually no border control when traveling between Belarus and Russia, but document checks may be carried out by Russian authorities on the way from Belarus to Russia by road, as it is prohibited by Russian law for third-country nationals to enter Russia outside border control.
Due to the concerns regarding the visa-free entry for citizens of 80 countries established by Belarus, Russia does not allow the entrance of third-country nationals who travel from Belarus by road (including car, bus or train). The Russian side insists that foreigners should cross the border only through international border checkpoints.
Belarus and Russia are still solving the international border checkpoints issue. Since the end of 2018, Belarus and Russia keep discussing the agreement on mutual recognition of visas. When signed, the document is expected to resolve the need for two visas and add the possibility to use other transport besides air. Until this happens, it’s important to remember that the only way for a third-country person to travel between Belarus and Russia directly is by air and with two visas.
If you would like to take advantage of visa-free entry to Belarus, you should know that the visa-free travel rule is only applicable for travelers flying in and out of the Minsk airport and not by the direct flights from/to Russia. For example, you cannot fly from Moscow to Minsk directly without a visa, whereas the flight Moscow – Riga – Minsk is an acceptable way to visit Belarus from Russia without a Belarusian visa.