Visa free travel between South Africa and Russia in the pipe-line.
Visa free travel to Russia was proposed by President Vladimir Putin. He announced in August 2015 that he would like members from the BRICS countries to travel Visa free to Russia. The BRICS countries include Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. This is great news for me as it is not always easy to get a Russian visa. The reason why it was proposed is simple – to increase tourism in Russia. Other states will also be included but the names have not been made public yet.
“To draw foreign tourists, we should probably envisage further simplification of some visa formalities, for example, expand the practice of using group visa-free exchanges. It can be done for the entire BRICS group of countries,” Putin said at the State Council presidium meeting addressing the development of the tourism industry on Aug. 17.
How long will it take for the new law to be implemented?
These things normally take time but President Putin has set strict deadlines and hopefully I will be able to travel visa-free to Russia soon. Not only is this good news for me but also for Andrey, if he wants to travel to South Africa with his Russian passport. Currently a Visa is needed and it costs money and time.
The Government had until 30 October to submit proposals regarding the possibility to implement the visa-free travel between members of the BRICS countries. Seeing that the deadline has already expired, I decided to have a look at the Kremlin website for an update. I couldn’t find any new information.
The president issued an appropriate instruction, which was published on the Kremlin website, asking the Russian government “to analyze the practice of applying the norms to simplify the visa rules for foreign citizens and submit proposals envisioning the possibility of visa-free entry and [visa-free] short-term stay on the territory of the Russian Federation for foreign citizens arriving in the Russian Federation as tourists (including en route [to other countries]) from BRICS countries and other countries whose list will be confirmed by the government.”
The Russian president also gave the government until December 1 to present a presidential draft decree regulating foreign citizens’ entry to Russia and their exit from the country in connection with international large-scale athletic, cultural, scientific and business events.
Russia in particular, has always been very strict when it comes to the issuing of visas and with reason. However, it would be good if they could open the doors to more countries and give people an opportunity to visit Russia.
What are the benefits of Visa-free travel?
As a frequent traveler, I would much rather visit a country where I can travel to without a visa. It allows for freedom and flexibility when it comes to making travel plans.
Take into account the visa expenses and the fact that it is a requirement to apply in person at an office that can be thousands of kilometres away from where the traveller lives. That in itself is a great benefit.
Besides the practical benefits it also gives people a feeling of acceptance and inclusion.
Important Update: From 31 March 2017, Ordinary South African Passport holders can enter Russia Visa Free for a period up to 90 days. If you want to enter Russia for Business Purposes, a Business Visa is required.