Belarus might not have as strict a visa policy as Russia but getting yourself a Belarus visa one can still be majorly annoying and frustrating if you don’t go in prepared.
Belarus is a beautiful country to travel to, and the women are amazing as well. In previous articles, we talked about Belarusian girls and why they are awesome.
But to get there, you might have to walk through a small bureaucratic hell. If you do it right, you can get your Belarus visa in the least amount of time and with the least amount of effort possible.
So let’s jump right in!
Who Needs A Belarus Visa?
Not all foreigners need a visa to get into Belarus.
In February 2017 the citizens of 80 different countries were exempted from the travel visa requirement if they enter through the Minsk International Airport.
There are also some countries whose citizens can travel without a visa even if they don’t enter through Minsk. These include most Eastern European states (like Russia, Moldova, and Ukraine), a lot of South American countries, as well as some Arab countries. Check Wikipedia for the full list, theirs is actually better organized than the one you see on the Ministry Of Foreign Affairs website.
There are three different levels of visa-free stays for these people. Some countries get an indefinite stay, while citizens of others can only stay for 90 or 30 days at a time within either a 180 day or a year period.
The Minsk International Airport Exception
In early 2017 almost all foreigners entering through the Minsk airport were granted visa-free visit for up to 5 days. The presidential decree came into force on February 12th of 2017 and it is one of the most popular decisions that the president made.
Or, in other words, there is no need to worry that this will change. So who gets that 5-day free pass?
There are a lot of countries but here are the major ones:
- All EU countries
- The US
- New Zeland
- Nearly all South American countries
That basically means that if you are planning a trip of fewer than 5 days, this is your time to go read about how pretty Eastern European women are.
You Still Here? Good, Let’s Get You A Belarus Visa
Although Belarus is not that big and five days could probably be enough to see it, it is no fun to rush through beautiful places if you can afford a longer trip.
Before you look into getting a Belarus visa, double check if your country of origin is not on the list of visa-free travel countries.
Who knows, you might as well get lucky (the US is not on there and neither are most European countries).
Where To Get A Belarus Visa
A Belarus visa can either be issued by your nearest embassy or consulate or upon arrival.
If you choose to get your visa at the airport, though, the fees will be significantly higher and you are also not exempted from having to submit your documents at least 3 business days in advance.
The only time this rule can be broken is if you are going to Belarus following the death or serious illness of a close relative. This is not the sort of thing you plan for, though, so the airport visas become an expensive, and not super convenient, last resort.
The smart way to get a Belarus visa is to apply at the consulate or embassy of Belarus back when you are still in your home country.
Types Of Belarus Visas
Belarus issues type B, type C, and type D visas. No, there is no type A and I have no explanation why that is.
- Type B visas are just transit visas. You would not generally need those because the Minsk International Airport already has that visa-free entry option for citizens of most countries around the world. You can’t use transit visas to cheat the Belarus visa system either – entry from and return to the same country does not qualify as transit.
- Type C is the short-term visa that most tourists opt for. It is valid for up to 90 days and can be single, double, or multiple entries. Your best bet would be a single entry visa as the fees are lower and 90 days are so little that most people don’t take two separate trips in that period.
- Type D visas are if you plan on staying for longer. They are still valid for only 90 days but these days can be dispersed around a year-long period. Type D can be convenient if you have multiple trips planned but it isn’t the best option if you want to actually live in Belarus. You can become a resident fairly easily and the visa is not worth the hassle.
- Type C and type D visas can both be single, double, or multiple entries. Either way, you have to specify for how long you are going to stay. You can’t spend more than 90 days with just a visa in Belarus. Once again, resident status is not hard to obtain, go for it.
Documents For A Belarus Visa
There are three main documents that you need to present when applying for a visa – the application form, a photo, and your passport or another travel document.
You can get the visa application on the Belarusian embassy website and you have to complete it by hand in block letters. They would probably have some forms at the embassy as well but getting them could include some extra waiting time. If you want to avoid that, print out the form, complete it, and bring it with you. I would also make a copy, just to be safe.
The photo should be a full face shot with a light background and a size 35×45 mm. More importantly, make sure you don’t smear any ink on it or scratch it in your bag. The people at the embassy are really strict about that kind of thing and it’s quite possibly the most stupid way to have to go back another day (and waste some more hours on queues). Although it doesn’t explicitly say so in their requirements, you would do best to pick a photo where you can see your entire jawline and ears. Hair pulled back is the best policy or else some clerks might send you back ‘because the photo is not clear enough’.
Finally, for the travel document, a passport is fine but an ID card or a driver’s license is not. Double check if you have any folded pages, spots, scratches, or torn pages on your passport. You would be surprised at how easy it is for those to appear and they essentially make the passport useless.
If you are getting the short-term type C visa as a tourist, you would also need a confirmation for your accommodation in Belarus. The hotel will know what to send, just make sure you ask. The booking confirmation should come from the hotel itself and not the agency or website.
As for rentals, your Airbnb host could send a booking confirmation but only if their apartment is registered as a ‘private unitary enterprise’. Very few properties are but in case yours is, also ask for a confirmation that the host is actually the owner and the license of ‘private unitary enterprise’ along with the booking confirmation.
Belarus Visas For Business Or Study Trips
If you are going to Belarus for work or study, you might have it slightly easier with the visa. For business travel, you will need a letter of invitation from the company that you are working with. Normally, you have to submit the original but you could also give them a copy or a fax if the consul approves. They usually do.
Students would get a similar letter of invitation from their educational institution. Universities have the production of these letters streamlined and they are also very experienced in the visa procedure. Contact your international student’s office and you should be fine, they usually go through the process with you.
Group visas are also an option if you are taking an organized trip. In that case, the agency would probably handle everything as a whole. Follow what they are telling you and you should be fine.
Citizens Of European Countries
There is a simplified visa application process if you are a citizen of the EU. You can only get single-entry for up to 30 days with this one but you will not have to confirm travel details with the government officials. The only thing you need is the application form and your passport. If you make a copy of the first few pages of your passport and attach that to the application it significantly shortens the time to get your visa.
Finally, if you do run into problems in Minsk, you can always contact your country’s embassy or consulate there. They will speak your language and help you maneuver through the complexities of Belarusian bureucracy.
Do you have any tips for getting a Belarus visa quick and painlessly? Leave a comment below!