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Belarus

Last Breath of the Soviet Union

Page Contents
General Visa Information
Locations of Belarusian Embassies and Consulates
Getting a Belarusian Visa on Arrival
Getting a Belarusian Visa in Vilnius, Lithuania
Getting a Belarusian Visa in Warsaw, Poland
Getting a Belarusian Visa in Russia
Getting a Belarusian Visa in London, United Kingdom
Medical Insurance Requirements
Registration
Entry to Russia from Belarus
Accommodations
Tourist Information
Guidebooks
Note: the Mound of Glory

General Visa Information 

Check out the two consulate sites below for particulars in English.
Check here for the locations of the:
Belarusian Embassies, consulates and missions and the
Belarus Ministry of Foreign Affairs

For information on the web and a place to download the application, check these two sites:
Belarus consulate in UK
Belarus consulate in US

For a tourist visa, you will need either an invitation or confirmation of hotel bookings. This is a recent change in spring 2004. Prior to this you needed both an invitation and an accommodations voucher.

For a transit visa, you will need a visa for that country to which you are headed OR train tickets to prove onward travel. It is no longer true that you can transit Belarus with a Russian visa. It seems you must choose a seven day period in advance in which to use your 48 hour transit visa, allowing a certain amount of flexibility. Transit visas allow a one night stay in Belarus.

For a visitor's visa or a business visa, you will need an official invitation. Effective 1 October 2004 citizens of all the 25 European Union states, as well as of Andorra, Argentina, Bahrain, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Iceland, Japan, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Norway, Oman, Qatar, South African Republic, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and Uruguay, applying for Belarusian visitor's or business visas who want to stay in the Republic of Belarus for the period less than 30 days NO longer need any formal letters of invitation from Belarusian citizens or organizations.

Locations of Belarusian Embassies and Consulates 
This site is the the Belarus Ministry of Foreign Affairs. You can switch to the English language pages and download the visa application in English or in German. The consular department is located at: 37a K. Marx str. 220030 Minsk
tel. +375 17 2222 665, fax +375 17 2222 663
Email: consul@mfa.org.by
Visa questions: +375 17 2222 661

Belarusian entry visas are issued by embassies/consulates of Belarus in: Austria (Vienna), Belgium (Brussels), Bulgaria (Sofia), Canada (Ottawa), China (Beijing), Czech Rep. (Prague), Egypt (Cairo), Estonia (Tallinn), France (Paris), Germany (Bonn, Berlin), India (Delhi), Iran (Tehran), Israel (Tel Aviv), Italy (Rome), Japan (Tokyo), Kazaksatan (Almaty), Latvia (Riga, Daugavpils), Lithuania (Vilnius), Moldova (Kishinev), Netherlands (The Hague), Poland (Bialystok, Gdansk, Warsaw), Romania (Bucharest), Russian Federation (Kaliningrad, Moscow), South Africa (Pretoria) Sweden (Stockholm), Switzerland (Bern), Syria (Damascus), Turkey (Ankara), Ukraine (Kiev), United Kingdom (London), U.S.A. (New York, Washington D.C.), Uzbekistan (Tashkent), Vietnam (Hanoi), Yugoslavia (Belgrade)

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Getting a Visa on Arrival 
Belarusian visas can NOT be obtained at the land borders. However, you can arrive at the airport in Minsk and buy a visa with the necessary proof of accommodations or an original invitation, the completed application, photo and payment of a fee.

Fees for visas issued on arrival at the Consular office at the National airport in Minsk (contact phone + 375 17 279 20 58) depend upon whether or not there is a Belarusian consulate in the country of your passport or official residence. In the event that there is no consulate or embassy of Belarus established in your country of residence the costs are:
private or business visa - 100 USD
tourist visa - 45 USD
transit visa - 30 USD

In the event that there is a consulate or embassy of Belarus established in your country of residence the costs are:
private or business visa - 140 USD
tourist visa - 60 USD
transit visa - 50 USD

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Getting a Belarusian Visa in Vilnius, Lithuania 
Belarusian tourist visas are eaily obtained in Vilnius. Given that confirmation of hotel bookings can be difficult to obtain if you do not speak Belarusian or Russian, your best bet is to buy an invitation, for a mere 4 USD, from:
Viliota travel agency
Address: Basanaviciaus 15, Vilnius, Lithuania
Tel: (+370 2) 65 22 38

Or try Litamicus at Gedimino pr. 24, opposite Scandic Hotel N‘ringa.

The Consular department of the Repubilc of Belarus:
Address: Muitin‘s g. 41
Reception hours:
Monday 8.30 - 16.30
Tuesday 8.30 - 16.30
Wednesday no reception
Thursday 8.30 - 16.30
Friday 8.30 - 16.30
They are closed for lunch from 12.00 - 13.00
Telephone for information: 213-22-55

The embassy website says it takes 48 hours to get a express visa, but there are reports from personal experience that it is possible to get a visa through travel agencies the same day.

To avoid the voucher and/or invitation thing, it's better to use a travel agent to obtain the visa! In Vilnius, a one month visa costs 67 Euro (at the embassy 50) but that already includes the necessary vouchers. Bring one photo.

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Getting a Belarusian Visa in Poland 
The Belarus consulate in Warsaw is very inconveniently located, almost to Wilanow but far enough away to require a separate trip. Also, very few people (even in the tourist info offices) seem to know where it is nor are they able to give coherent directions of what bus to take to get there. Further, the consulate staff are quite soviet in their outlook, locking the doors (at least) 10 minutes before closing time and refusing to accept applications even if you get in the door before the closing time.

On the other hand, the Gdansk location is VERY convenient, in the tall building you see straight in front of you if you walk up Rajska, at the end of the street, about 10 minutes north of the old town. They are open M, T, Th, F from 8 - 12, with pickup from 12 - 15. On the other hand, I paid the extra for same day service for my transit visa, and as a result they did it for me in the morning in about 15 minutes. They were also much friendlier, so I didn't mind paying the extra so much.

A traveler reported in 2004 that the price of an "express" visa for transit (express, because I wanted to buy my train ticket (required for the visa) in Warsaw) was 105 euro, ONE entrance.

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Getting a Belarusian Visa in Russia 
You CAN obtain a Belarus visa in Russia in either Moscow or Petersburg.

In Petersburg The consulate moved and as of June 2004 it is now located at:
Address: Bonch-Bruevicha ul 3, St Petersburg
Tel:(812) 273 0078 (unchanged)
It's near the British consulate and on bus route 22 from Nevsky. Transit visas are issued on the spot for US$36.00 (if you provide a photo and the necessary tickets), and in five days for US$20.00.

In Moscow it's located at Maroseika 17⁄6, a couple of blocks from the Kitai Gorod or Lubyanka metro stations. Local Tel.: 924 70 31, 777 66 44. The building is very interesting. It is the very striking green­blue and white mansion designed by Vasily Bazhenov, who also designed the Pashkov House. It's had a number of famous occupants. The visa section is entered via the side street. Walk about 100m down the street, turn left into what looks like a residential area, then hook back around in the direction you came 60m. The direction signs are tiny, and you may need to ask someone; the office is on the second floor ­ go up steel steps to the solitary door with a security guard looking gruffly at all and sundry...

In June 2004 prices were reported as 45 USD for same day delivery, 36 USD for next day and 20 USD probably for one week processing.

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Getting a Belarusian Visa in London, United Kingdom 
Address: 6 Kensington Court, London W8 5DL
Tel: 020 7937 3288 (indirect, 9.00 - 12.30 and 14.00 - 18.00)
Tel: 020 7938 3677 (direct, 14.00 - 16.00) Fax: 020 7361 0005
Email: uk@belembassy.org
Website: http://belarus.embassyhomepage.com/

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Medical Insurance Requirements 
Effective October 1, 2000 medical insurance is required for all foreign citizens traveling to the Republic of Belarus. The medical insurance agreement can be concluded with a Belarusian or a foreign insurance company. The insurance certificate issued by a foreign insurance company should be valid on the territory of Belarus during the period of stay and should cover the insurance cases established by the Law of the Republic of Belarus. The minimum insurance limit of responsibility is five thousand US dollars. ApplicantsĘshould not submit their insurance certificate to the Embassy. It should be presented to the customs officer and/or frontier guard when entering Belarus. Medical insurance is not required for holders of Belarusian transit visas traveling to other countries via Belarus.

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Registration Requirements 
After arriving in Belarus, please report within 3 business days the information about the address and duration of your stay to the local Passport and Visa Office of the Ministry of Interior and have registration put in holder's passport. If staying in a hotel, this will be arranged by the hostel services (reception bureau).

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Entry to Russia from Belarus 
When taking the train from Belarus to Russia, there is NO border crossing. The train passes through in the middle of the night, and there is no stop for customs and immigration. Two travelers in the summer of 2004 reported that when transiting Belarus this is not a problem.

"As I have read in this forum many people have wondered how to get Russian migration card when traveling to Russia from Lithuania or Poland, transiting through Belarus, I have good news. We were in Moscow with a friend of mine (From Vilnius, Lithuania), traveling by car through Belarus and back last weekend. As there is no passport control (only Russian customs control for temporary import of cars) you must get Russian migration card from Belarus passport control when entering BY from Lithuania or Poland. You must clearly state you are going to Russia and request this form. It will be stamped by Belarusian immigration and it is perfectly ok to register your stay in Russia with this migration card. Same procedure applies when traveling by train, just REQUEST THIS CARD FROM BELARUS IMMIGRATION. If you travel to Russia without this card you will have problems registering into a hotel and could be fined when leaving Russia or Belarus. If driving a car, hold the transit customs declaration you filled in when you entered Belarus from LT or PL as Belarus customs will need to see it when returning to Lithuania or Poland. Smolensk customs needs a photocopy of driver's passport and car registration documents (which is not standard procedure in Russian customs) in addition to a photocopy of Russian car insurance (which is a standard procedure.)"

But this is potentially a problem if you are not transiting the country. If this is the case, then you should receive an orange Belarusian migration card upon entry into Belarus and you will then need to figure out how to obtain a Russian migration card.

In summer 2003, one traveler flew from Minsk to Moscow in an attempt to get a Russian migration card. Unfortunately, the flight arrived at the domestic part of Domodedovo airport, and he did not go through customs and immigration. He walked over to the international arrivals part of the airport, explained the situation and persuaded them to issue him a Russian migration card.

If anyone has other information regarding this matter, I would appreciate hearing from you.

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Accommodations 
There is still a two tier pricing system for hotels in Belarus.

There are no hostels in Belarus open to foreigners. Only a few places are permitted to have foreigners stay overnight as most places can't register them. Since registration is essential if you stay more than 72 hours, this severely limits where you can stay.

Homestays ­ HOFA ­ These folks, although located in St. Petersburg, Russia, can arrange home-stays in a variety of places including Belarus and can provide the necessary visa support documents and vouchers as well. Also ask them whether they can arrange for registration.

There are some "grandmothers" with rooms at the train station, but not nearly as many as elsewhere as there aren't many tourists in Belarus. Also there are few people, except possibly among the under 30 crowd, who speak English or any foreign language other than Russian.

The cheapest place to stay in Minsk at the moment seems to be the Academy of Science dorm. 50 USD for a double room for the first night (because of the registration procedure), following nights are 32 USD (16 USD per person so to say).

The information on accommodation in www.inyourpocket.com may not be correct!!!!!!!!Of course, this is good advise on any travel guide given that it takes time to collect the information and have it printed or updated on a website.

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Khatyn
Khatyn

Tourist Information 
Travel in Belarus is generally avoided by the independent traveler because of the requirements to book travel in advance. OTOH if you are interested in Soviet architecture and having a "Soviet­style" experience, this is the place to go.

Belintourist, is the National Tourist Travel Holding Company and their website has lots of good tourist information: Belintourist. Once in Minsk, you can visit them at: Masherova 19
Tel: 223 34 21 or 226 98 40
Fax: 223 11 43
While it's not a real tourist agency, it is the most helpful contact once in Minsk. They are open from 9:00 to 5:00, Mondays through Fridays.

Andrei Burdenkoff, a frequent contributor on the Lonely Planet's ThornTree, operates a tourist company in Belarus. He can be reached at belarus@holiday-t.com.

The most frequent recommendation for information about Minsk is In Your Pocket Guide for Minsk

Besides the inyourpocket.com guide, there is a now a website called What's on in Minsk

Belarus Travel Guide was put together by a TT user whose wife is from Belarus and who visits the country regularly.

Belarus Travel is another tour company with lots of good information about things to do and places to visit. They also provide visa support and can assist with making hotel reservations for travel to Belarus.

Another good site on the web for information about Belarus culture, history and tourism is The Virtual Guide to Belarus.

There really isn't much old to see in Belarus as the country was almost completely flattened during WWII. What the Germans did not knock down, the Soviets did. Other than Minsk, the places to consider are the Brest Fortress, a visit to Lake Naroch and the Khatyn War Memorial.

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Mound of Glory
MtnGlory

Guidebooks 
For information about Belarus and in particular, Minsk, check out the inyourpocket.com as no current guidebook covers the area well. On the web they have a humorous A to Z Guide of Belarus.

The latest Lonely Planet Guide book on Russia published in March 2006 includes Belarus. 

Bradt travel guides published a Belarus Guide in August 2008.

Belarus - Culture Smart!: the essential guide to customs & culture was published in October 2008.

Note: The photo in the background of this page and the adjacent picture are both of the Mound of Glory monument, which is located 21 kilometers from Minsk. This 35 meter high hill crowned with the obelisk was built on the site where in 1944 a Belarusian operation successfully completed the liberation of Minsk and Belarus from Nazi occupation during World War II. It was constructed by the citizens of Minsk who carried the earth to construct it bucket by bucket. The foundation was laid with a symbolic handful of earth from Minsk, from every Hero City of the former USSR, from the sites of major battles on the territory of the USSR during WW II and from thousands of Belarusian villages, towns and cities terrorized by the German invaders.

At the top of the 240 steps stands a typically beautiful and unique Soviet masterpiece. Three huge bayonets, rimmed by an elaborate mosaic, depicting the horrors of the war in words and pictures. Below is a café (Open 10:00 ­ 23:00) that is probably best left alone, although just beyond that, the owner of the adjoining small house has seemingly made it his life's purpose to carve large totems and erect them in his garden. Some echoing the sentiments of the monument, others on a more traditional theme. Feel free to walk around them.

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last revised 2 Nov 2008 © 2003-2008 Ruth E. Imershein
The information contained on these pages is intended to assist in making travel plans but things change, mistakes can be made.
Please do not depend entirely on this information when making your decisions.

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