Russia is set to significantly increase visa fees for citizens from EU nations and several other European countries, according to sources reported by business outlet RBK. The changes have been approved by a government commission, following proposals by the Foreign Ministry.
The draft bill includes the EU’s 27 members, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, and Denmark. Denmark, an EU member, had previously signed a deal with Russia in 2008 to simplify the visa process, but bilateral relations have since deteriorated. As a result, the Russian consulate in Copenhagen suspended visa operations in September after Denmark reduced the number of entry papers issued to Russians.
Under the new rules, visa fees for citizens from the listed nations will increase from the current range of $37-$73 to $50-$300, depending on the type of entry permit. The bill also states that the Russian visa waiver program will no longer cover certain categories of visitors from these countries, including close relatives of Russian citizens, officials, students, athletes, and individuals involved in scientific and cultural activities. It will also apply to those traveling to Russia for humanitarian reasons, such as medical treatment or to attend a funeral.
The aim of these changes is to more than double the Foreign Ministry’s income from issuing visas. The decision to increase visa fees comes in response to the withdrawal of travel agreements by the EU and other countries after the outbreak of the Ukraine conflict. It also seeks to align Russian visa fees with the prices charged by the affected countries.
All of the nations listed in the draft bill have already been designated as ‘unfriendly states’ by Moscow due to their imposition of sanctions, expulsion of diplomats, or engagement in other anti-Russian activities. However, the Foreign Ministry clarified that citizens from these countries will still be eligible for electronic visas, which were introduced by Russia in August.
The e-visa application process requires four days and can be completed using a dedicated website or mobile app. The cost is approximately $52, and it allows travelers to stay in Russia for around two weeks as a tourist, guest, or business visitor. The introduction of electronic entry permits has already had a positive impact on the Russian tourism industry, with a reported 25% increase in foreign bookings of Russian hotels in the first month.
In conclusion, Russia’s decision to increase visa fees for citizens from the EU and other European countries aims to generate higher income for the Foreign Ministry while aligning visa prices with those charged by the affected nations. This move comes in response to the withdrawal of travel agreements and the designation of these countries as ‘unfriendly states’ by Russia. However, citizens from these nations will still be eligible for electronic visas, which have proven to be popular among foreign travelers.