Russia will offer electronic visas to foreign visitors starting in 2021, President Vladimir Putin has ordered in a decree.
Tourists around the world have frequently cited difficulties with obtaining visas as a barrier to visiting Russia. In 2018, Russia offered visa-free entry for foreign fans with Fan ID’s visiting Russia for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, resulting in a 10 percent boost in tourism that year.
Putin has signed a presidential order instructing the prime minister, the Foreign Ministry, the Interior Ministry and the Federal Security Service (FSB) to implement the e-visas by Jan. 1, 2021.
The e-visa offer will apply to single-entry visas for visits of up to 16 days in length, and can be used for any type of visa.
Russia will approve the list of countries eligible for the offer. So far, China, South Korea, Japan, European countries and New Zealand are among the countries being considered, the Kommersant business daily reported on Monday.
The e-visas are expected to cost around $50, Kommersant quoted Oleg Pak, the deputy head of the Communications and Press Ministry, as saying.
Since 2017, citizens of 18 countries have been able to obtain free single-entry e-visas to visit the Far East Federal District. Beginning July 1, 2019, the e-visa offer will apply to travelers visiting the Western enclave of Kaliningrad.
The new program, along with last year’s Fan ID offer, will shape Russia’s e-visa program, Pak told Kommersant.