There are several cases where it is possible to enter the territory of the Russian Federation without a visa: if you are a citizen of a country which has a visa-free regime with Russia, if you are travelling on a cruise ship or ferry travelling to St Petersburg for no more than 72 hours or if you are a ticket-holder of a special event held in Russia.
COUNTRIES WHICH HAVE A VISA-FREE REGIME WITH RUSSIA.
|COUNTRY||TERMS OF VISA-FREE STAY||ENTERED INTO FORCE|
|ABKHAZIA||Enter Russia without a visa for no longer than 90 days.||26.04.2011|
|AZERBAIJAN||Enter Russia without a visa for no longer than 90 days.||03.07.1997|
|ARGENTINA||The total length of stay in Russia should not exceed 90 days in each 180-day period (the 180-day period starts from the moment of entry into the country).||18.03.2009|
|ARMENIA||Enter Russia without a visa for no longer than 90 days.||25.09.2000|
|BELARUS||For tourists — up to 30 days (with a tourist invitation), business and private visits - up to 90 days (with an original invitation)||30.11.2000|
|BOSNIA AND HERTZEGOVINA||For tourists — up to 30 days (with a tourist invitation), business and private visits - up to 90 days (with an original invitation)||24.09.2007|
|BRAZIL||The total length of stay in Russia should not exceed 90 days in each 180-day period (the 180-day period starts from the moment of entry into the country).||26.11.2008|
|VENEZUELA||The total length of stay in Russia should not exceed 90 days in each 180-day period (the 180-day period starts from the moment of entry into the country).||26.11.2008|
|KAZAKHSTAN||Enter Russia without a visa for no longer than 90 days.||30.11.2000|
|KYRGYZSTAN||Enter Russia without a visa for no longer than 90 days.||30.11.2000|
|MACEDONIA||For tourists - up to 30 days, for non-commercial aims - up to 90 days. An original invitation letter is needed.||19.06.2008|
|MOLDOVA||Enter Russia without a visa for no longer than 90 days.||30.11.2000|
|NICARAGUA||For tourists - up to 30 days, for non-commercial aims - up to 90 days. An original invitation letter is needed.||28.07.2009|
|PERU||For tourists - up to 30 days, for non-commercial aims - up to 90 days. An original invitation letter is needed.||21.06.2011|
|SERBIA||Enter Russia without a visa for no longer than 30 days, only for biometric passport holders issued after 8 April 2008.||20.02.2009|
|TAJIKISTAN||Enter Russia without a visa for no longer than 90 days.||30.11.2000|
|THAILAND||Enter Russia without a visa for no longer than 30 days. For a longer stay a visa is needed.||13.12.2005|
|TURKEY||Visa-free regime cancelled in January 2016||01.01.2016|
|UZBEKISTAN||Enter Russia without a visa for no longer than 90 days.||30.11.2000|
|UKRAINE||Enter Russia without a visa for no longer than 90 days.||16.01.1997|
|MONTENEGRO||Enter Russia without a visa for no longer than 30 days. An original invitation letter is needed.||24.08.2009|
VISA - FREE REGIME FOR TRAVELLERS TO ST PETERSBURG ON CRUISE SHIPS.
If you are visiting to St Petersburg as part of an organised cruise for no longer than 72 hours you don’t need to get a Russian visa before your trip. The tour operator should provide you with the required documentation (a blanket visa) to disembark the ship and tour the city visa-free.
There are some conditions for this, for example you can only leave the ship when accompanied by an authorised guide and you have to sleep on the ship on which you arrived. You cannot book a hotel by yourself and stay there. You also need a so-called tour-ticket which confirms that you have booked an excursion and paid for it. The tour-ticket should be issued by an authorised tour operator.
VISA - FREE REGIME FOR TRAVELLER TO ST PETERSBURG ON A FERRY.
There are some slight differences between travelling by ferry and cruise ship. Cruise passengers are required to stay on the ship and cannot book a hotel. Ferry passengers may stay at any hotel in the city they want.
If you travel to St Petersburg by a ferry from Stockholm, Helsinki or Tallinn with the ferry company St Petersburg Line, a return ticket should be booked as well as a tour of the city provided by an authorised tour operator.
If you are planning to stay overnight - a prepaid accommodation booking is also needed. St Petersburg Line may try to force you to book a hotel via them, mainly at the Sokos Hotel Chain they own, but according to federal law you may book any hotel by yourself and stay there.
The period of 72 hours begins from the moment of passing passport control at the sea port of St Petersburg. St Petersburg Line obliges you to buy a ticket for the city shuttle bus (owned by St Petersburg Line) for €25 for adults and €12.50 for children (0-12 years) (shuttle route - Sea Station Terminal, V.O.,1 Morskoy Slavy square - Sokos Hotel Vasilievsky - Sokos Hotel Palace Bridge - Saint Isaac’s Square) at the moment of booking ferry tickets. This city tour is actually no more than a shuttle from the ferry terminal to the historic centre of St Petersburg. Passengers who arrive under a visa-free regime must stay within the territory defined by the pre-paid excursion programme.
If you stay for more than one day in Russia you should have prepaid confirmation of accommodation in St Petersburg and also undergo registration formalities at the hotel.
NOTE: if you travel on a ferry with a car (as a driver) you must have a Russian visa to enter the country.
Although according the law you should stay in St Petersburg during the 72 hours, some tourists travel to neighbouring regions and even to Moscow, although it is technically illegal.
If you are planning to stay in St Petersburg for only 24 hours you do not need booking confirmation from a hotel.
Step-by-step guide to travel without visa if you arrive by ferry.
1. Book your ferry tickets on https://booking.stpeterline.com
2. During the process of booking you will be obliged to book the mandatory “Bus city tour of St Petersburg” option. Also there are options to book hotel and other excursions - they are not obligatory and you can book accommodation and a tour programme with any travel agency.
3. Book accommodation and pay for it. Get a confirmation that indicates that you have paid for your accommodation.
4. Get a Boat Arrival Card and a Boat Departure Card at the time of your check-in at the boat terminal. Your boat departure card serves as your visa during your stay in St Petersburg - you will NOT get a visa in your passport. Your arrival card will be taken on the immigration control.
5. Before leaving the boat you should fill in a registration form which you need to always have with you and will be asked for when you check in at a hotel.
6. After passing passport control you can get a “free” city-tour shuttle. You can get off at any place. Alternatively you can order a taxi or a private transfer from a tourist agency.
7. Enjoy your stay in St Petersburg for no more than 72 hours. We recommend you have confirmation from the hotel with you during your stay in St Petersburg. You must also have your Boat Departure Card along with your passport - these documents are your Russian visa and make your stay in Russia legitimate.
8. Be at the passport control according to the ferry schedule.
VISA-FREE SPECIAL EVENTS IN RUSSIA
Previously, for certain special events being held in Russia the visa requirement has been cancelled, provided you hold a ticket for such event. This temporary cancellation of visa requirements has been held for a football European Championship final, the Eurovision Song Contest and the Winter Olympics in Sochi. A similar situation will probably be introduced for the 2018 FIFA World Cup which will be held in various cities in Russia.