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Travel to Belarus (current as of Mai 2024)

In July 2024 there is special occasion, when you can come from Vilnius to Minsk without visa. This information may be useful to those who are going to visit Belarus in summer 2024. This year, visa-free travel across the land border of Belarus is again expected on the occasion of the Slavianski Bazaar Music Festival.

How it works: citizens of 73 countries can cross the border of Belarus, including the land border, simply by presenting a ticket to the event of the Slavianski Bazaar . It functioned in 2022 and 2023 great. There are many countries on the list, all of Europe, Australia, Canada. Attention: USA is not included

It’s important:

  • The visa-free period of the festival is from 4 to 21 July, while the entry and exit must be logical in order to get to the event. The festival itself is from 9 to 15 July. For example, to get to an event on the 11th, you can arrive on the 4th and leave not later than on 23rd. Or arrive on the 14th, go to the chanson on the 15th and leave on the 21rd. But you can not come on the 16th or later, because at that time all activities will end.
  • US citizens are not included in the list in 2024. US citizens need to have Belarus visa in any case: when entering through the airport, crossing land border, and going to the festival.
  • Important: do not trust the lists on news sites, they can reprint last year’s list, check the desired country only in official lists. Great Britain, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Greece, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Canada, Mexico, France, Switzerland, Sweden are definitely there.
  • The right to visa-free entry is given only by tickets to the Summer Amphitheater and the Vitebsk Concert Hall. Last year, there was a visa-free mark on the site at the events, this year it is not yet. Therefore, it is important to look at the place where the event is held.

official website of the festival https://fest-sbv.gck.by/news/page/na-festival-bez-vizy-2024-03-04
Buy tickets here https://www.ticketpro.by/slavyanskij-bazar-v-vitebske/
Buy tickets here https://www.kvitki.by/rus/bileti/slavjanskij-bazar/

At the moment Belarus is open and quite country, as it had been some years ago. According to what we see, the embassies are very open for those, who want to get visa. They ask for less documents, in majority of the cases they do not ask for letter of invitation, just the confirmation of booking and Belarusian insurance.

So, let’s assume what we have now.

If you enter Belarus by air, you do not need visa (exception – USA citizens). Now you can fly to Belarus via Turkey, Dubai, Kazachstan, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, China, Egypt.

Read more about visa-free entry to Belarus here

There is another way to come to Belarus. You can fly to Warsaw Poland or Vilnius Lithuania and then go by bus to Minsk. Vilnius is preferrable, because it’s only 180 km from Vilnius to Minsk. In order to enter Belarus by ground border you need to have Belarusian visa stamped in your passport.

How to obtain the Belarusian visa in Belarusian Embassy in your country or at any other country:

According to our recent experience, now you can obtain visa very easy. For the period less than 30 days you can provide just the booking of the hotel for the time of stay and insurance, valid in Belarus.

So you apply to Belarusian embassy. Every embassy has it’s own website, and slightly own rules. At many places you can apply even by post. At other – personally. Please check the website of the Embassy in your country.

You come there with the following documents:

  • printed pdf with the confirmation of hotel booking
  • insurance, valid in Belarus
  • visa application with your recent picture Download application here https://mfa.gov.by/en/visa/useful/visa-applications.html

That’s usually enough to get touristic visa to Belarus.

Visa fee is 35 Euro or 70 Euro for express Visa (issued in 1 day).
If it’s not convenient for you to apply in your country, I could recommend to obtain visa in Vilnius.

We’ll be glad to see you in Minsk soon!

Q&A

I have US citizenship: do I need to obtain visa?
Yes, since 2021 US citizens need Belarusian visa both either when coming by air or by ground.

Which airlines do you recommend:
As you already know, you can now fly to Belarus via Istanbul. There are no direct flights from Europe (for a year now, this is a political decision of the European Union). But there are flights from Istanbul every day. In addition, you can fly through Georgia, Armenia, Dubai, Egypt. However, Istanbul is the main connection point.

Now one feature. You can find tickets from Istanbul to Minsk by Turkish Airlines and the Belarusian company Belavia. The problem is that Turkish airlines have been selling tickets since March, but continue to extend the cancellation of flights to Belarus. At the moment (beginning of May) flights are canceled until November.
Our customers buy these tickets again and again, but the flights are canceled one by one.

At the same time, Belavia flies from Istanbul every day. But if you are in Europe or America, then you will not see these tickets due to sanctions. You will not see them either on ticket aggregator sites or by opening the Belavia airline website, because it is blocked in Europe and the USA

How our clients bypass this moment: You can use VPN to open the site Belavia.by . This site has an English version, you can buy tickets online. There is a chance that your bank will not approve this transaction. If this happens, contact the bank to confirm this payment.

The second option that worked for our client was to buy a ticket through a travel agency. Alternatively, you can buy a ticket at the Belavia office in another country, for example, in Georgia. Most importantly, planes fly. So there is an opportunity to fly.

How to get Belarusian insurance?
You can buy it here https://beg.by/en/online-insurance/
Print the insurance.

How to get to Belarus by bus?

You can come to Minsk with a bus. There are only 180km from Vilnius to Minsk. Of course, there may be a queue at the border. Therefore, it is important to travel by regular bus, which run on schedule. Usually they pass the border faster and the whole journey takes no more than 5 hours.

You can find the timetable of the buses at getbybus.com. If the payment doesn’t go through, you can find the bus, that is convenient for you and then buy the ticket on the website of the bus company (most of them are European, so the payment with visa/mastercard will function)

How to get confirmation of booking for visa?

Booking.com and airbnb no longer work in Belarus. You can find the map of hotels at https://www.trivago.com/ with the approximate prices and availability. But they ask the full prepayment to book. When you select the hotel just google the direct website of the hotel. Local hotels, such as Hotel Minsk, Hotel Belarus etc are ready to make the booking without prepayment. So you can easily book it for longer period they you intend to stay (up to 1 month)
They send you pdf file as confirmation of booking. After getting the visa you can cancel the booking and stay at any place (apartment or hotel)

I want to travel by car/ rent private transfer to Belarus
That’s possible if you have visa in your passport. But there there can be a long queue at the border. It’s unpredictable. That’s why we recommend to use regular bus to enter Belarus, they go to separate queue and usually can be maximum 1-2 hours late according to the schedule.

Covid restrictions
There are no any covid restrictions at the moment. Masks are not required. Neither tests nor certificates or self-isolation upon arrival are not needed.

If you plan a trip to Belarus, you are welcome to contact the agency, we can advise on any further questions on the entry.

Are Visa/Mastercard functioning there?
Mostly US and EU issued visa/mastercard cards function in Belarus. But in some places the transaction can be declined. There are 2 main reasons for that: the service provider can use the bank, that is under sanctions and do not accept foreign card, or your own bank can ban the transaction to Belarus. That’s why I strongly recommend to take Euro/USD cash with you, at least for major part of your expenses. Better to bring cash home, than to find out that you cannot pay the hotel.

If you plan a trip to Belarus, you are welcome to contact the agency, we can advise on any further questions on the entry.