Starting from October 2019, foreign tourists will be able to visit St. Petersburg with an E-visa. However, international travel experts mention that Russia has to put more effort into attracting new tourists to Russia.

In this article, we will discuss what an E-visa to St. Petersburg is and who can obtain it.

What is an electronic visa?

In 2017, the mayor of St. Petersburg came with the idea to simplify the visa regime for the city. He approached the president Vladimir Putin in 2017 and proposed the introduction of electronic visas, as well as a visa-free regime for those flying to St. Petersburg and staying there for 72 hours.

In the time of the Football World Championship, which was held in Russia, the experience of Fan-ID proved that a simplified visa regime could bring in more tourists. Compared to the ordinary tourist visas, the Fan-ID was much easier to get and ended up being a successful decision of the Russian government, which brought a lot of revenue to the country.

The new mayor of Saint Petersburg, Aleksandr Beglov, approached president Putin again with the idea of introducing an electronic visa for the city. Vladimir Putin signed the document about introducing electronic visas for St. Petersburg and the Leningradskaya Region from 1st October 2019. The document was published on the official website on July 19.
Below you can find a translation of the decree:

“To establish that from October 1, 2019, entry into the Russian Federation and departure from the Russian Federation of foreign citizens through checkpoints across the state border of the Russian Federation, located on the territory of Saint Petersburg and the adhering regions, can be done on the basis of ordinary business, tourist, and humanitarian visas in the electronic form”

The document says that starting on October 1, 2019, citizens of certain foreign states will be able to enter St. Petersburg and the Leningradskaya Region (adhering to the city) with an e-visa.

How to get an E-visa to St. Petersburg?

The electronic visa to St. Petersburg can be obtained for a period of maximum 30 days, with the maximum allowed period of stay in the country is 8 days. The e-visa is subject to NO consular fees.

To get an electronic visa, you will have to follow these steps:

  1. Make sure that you are eligible for the e-visa regime
  2. Thoroughly plan your route – you will have to indicate the hotels you will be staying in and other specific information while filling in the visa application
  3. Fill the online application form – it has to be done at latest 4 days before your planned date of entry on the territory of the Russian Federation

Where else can I go with an E-visa?

The electronic visa regime exists since August 2018 in the Russian Far East (Vladivostok), and from July 1, 2019 – in the Kaliningrad region.

Read more about the e-visa to Kaliningrad and the Far East.

Who can get an electronic visa for Russia?

The number of countries, whose citizens are eligible for the electronic visa regime, varies depending on the region of your visit. For the E-visa to Vladivostok (Far East), only citizens of 18 countries are eligible. Some of the countries are India, Qatar, China, Morocco, Mexico, and the UAE. Citizens of 53 countries can visit the Kaliningrad region with an e-visa.

Regarding the countries whose citizens are eligible for entering St. Petersburg with an E-visa, it has not been decided yet. The Russian government has to decide on the list of eligible countries until October 1st. Many experts say that if Western Europe, USA, and China will be included in this list it will be a big win for Russian tourism.

If you are not eligible for getting an e-visa to St. Petersburg, you will have to go with an ordinary tourist or business visa.

How will the introduction of e-visas affect St. Petersburg?

St. Ptersburg Bridge
A Classic symbol of St. Petersburg White Nights – a romantic view of the open Palace Bridge, which spans between – the spire of Peter and Paul Fortress

According to the prediction of the Russian Tour Operators Association, the introduction of electronic visas could increase the number of tourists visiting St. Petersburg by 20 to 25 percent. The increase will come mainly from independent travelers, guests from the neighboring countries that would come to visit the city for a weekend, and from the tourists from European countries that have convenient flight routes.

The Head of Tourism Development Committee, Evgeniy Pankevich, couldn’t give an approximation on how the introduction of electronic visas will impact the city and promised to give further details later. Other approximations say that St. Petersburg can expect an increase in tourist by at least 30%.

As of this moment, the officials are not sure about the current number of tourists that have visited St. Petersburg in 2018. An official stated before that 8,2 million tourist visited the city in 2018. After changes in the methodology of counting the tourists, the number increased to 15 million.

People involved in the tourism business in St. Petersburg say that the introduction of electronic visas is a revolution. A hotel owner says “With the introduction of e-visas, we are helping the independent traveler get to Russia without having to go through beaurocratic hell. According to other countries’ experience, the number of tourists visiting the city could potentially increase by 100% in three to five years”.

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