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Transit through Belarus: what foreigners need to know

Make sure your transit visa is in order before entering Belarus

The Republic of Belarus is situated in Central Europe. It borders Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Russia and Poland. The countries Geographical location makes Belarus an international transit point linking the countries and peoples of Europe and Asia. Belarus’ European standard in infrastructure, its developed network of motels and cafes makes transiting through the country  a pleasant and comfortable experience.

Foreign citizens planning transit travel through the territories of Belarus on their way to another destination, have to adhere to certain rules and to conform to Belorussian law.

The main features of transit passage through the territory of the Republic of Belarus are described in the following paragraphs.

The first step that the Traveler needs to undertake is to obtain a Transit Visa.

 

The procedure of obtaining a Belorussian transit visa:

Foreign citizens traveling through the territory of the Republic of Belarus to other countries have to apply for a Transit Visa. The Transit visa is issued by consular institutions of the Republic of Belarus in the applicants country of residence. It is valid for 2 days from the date of entry of a foreign citizen into Belarus. The transit visa is issued in advance not exceeding 1 year from the date of departure. Transit Visa’s can be issued for single, double and multiple entry. It is worth mentioning that Transit Visa’s have to be obtained before any journey that requires crossing the border into Belorussian territory takes place.

Foreign citizens are exempt from applying for a Belorussian Transit Visa in the following cases:

1. If they have another visa of the Republic of Belarus, which gives them right to cross the State border into the nations territory
2. If they travel by air transport through the territory of the Republic of Belarus by direct flight;
3. If travelers are transiting through one of Belarus’ international airports and the connecting flight departs within 24 hrs of having arrived in Belarus. Travelers are not permitted to leave the airport terminal, and must provide proof of departure within the 24 hr period by the way of an accredited ticket or itinerary with their airline.
4. If a visa-free regime is established between your country of citizenship and Belarus. Citizens of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cuba, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Qatar, Russia, Serbia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Venezuela are exempt from having to apply for a Transit Visa.

Take notice that foreign citizens who attempt to enter, or leave the Republic of Belarus without a current Transit Visa are going to be denied entry into the country and forcibly removed from trains, buses, airplanes or detained for breaching the Visa Policy.  Thus, The Embassy of the United States of America in Minsk warns that there have been numerous situations involving American citizens traveling through Belarus by train without transit visas who have been required to disembark while in transit at the border crossings.

 

Documents required to cross the State Border of the Republic of Belarus:

The foreigner, attempting to transit through the territory of the Republic of Belarus should present their valid Passport containing the Transit Visa and filled in Migration Card to the the Border Patrol Officer at the Border Checkpoint.

The Border Patrol Officer will then stamp both the Visa and the Migration Card. The stamp contains the official date of entry into the territories of Belarus, and upon leaving the country will be stamped with the date of departure. Foreigners transiting through Belarus must present the Migration Card along with Transit Visa upon departure.

Take note when entering the Republic of Belarus, the foreign citizen should have the financial means to cover transit charges associated with the length of their trip. Minimum recommendations are approximately (750 000 BYR).

 

Border crossing requirements for foreigners traveling by car:

Foreign citizens planning to enter Belarus by ways of automobile should adhere to these rules:

Foreign citizens have to fill in a declaration of goods and currency forms and proceed through the “Red” causeway in the following circumstances:
1. In the case of importing dutiable goods, including:
-goods where the value exceeds the equivalent of €1,500 (by air – € 10,000) or where the weight exceeds 50kg;
– over 3 liters of alcoholic beverages and beer per one individual over the age of 18;
– ethanol.
2. In the case of importing Belorussian Ruble, foreign currencies, travelers’ cheques in equivalent to, or exceeding U.S. $10,000.
3. In the case of importing goods which are prohibited or restricted to import (civilian weapons and its main parts as well as patrons, drugs, poisons, radioactive and explosive substances, etc.).

It is important to note that import of animals and plants to Belarus is allowed only if there are necessary veterinary and medical documents to show that the animal or fauna do not pose a threat of transferring disease.

For visitors that do not have anything to declare to border officials, they are expected to proceed down the “Green” causeway for processing.

Not declaring dutiable goods constitutes a customs offense for which administrative and in some cases criminal liability will be undertaken. If there is any uncertainty as to what is to be deemed declarable and what is not needed to be, it is better to go through the “Red” Channel.

The next important point is that foreigners transiting by vehicles through the territory of the Republic of Belarus can follow only on the highway networks, that connect the point of  entrance checkpoint, to the point of exit. Moreover, stops for meal breaks, rest and lodging for the night are possible only in the points of transit where there are hotels or specially allocated supervised parking.

In the case where there are no hotels, motels, camp sites or specially allocated supervised parking on the transit route, a stop for meals, rest and lodging for the night must be carried out in the settlement located nearest to the transit route.

 

Toll roads in the Republic of Belarus

Be advised that from August 1st 2013 the electronic toll collection system BelToll is operational in the Republic of Belarus. Roads like M-3 Minsk – Vitebsk, M-4 Minsk – Mogilev, M-5/E 271 Minsk – Gomel , M-6/E 28 Minsk – Grodno – the Polish border (Bruzgi) are equipped by collection stations or the electronic toll collection system.

The current list of paid roads is available on the website www.beltoll.by Foreigners traveling across the territory of the Republic of Belarus by car are required to register in the BelToll system.  Registration can be done either at BelToll Customer Service Points (a list of service points is available on the Beltoll website www.beltoll.by). To use the toll road network it is required to rent or to buy an on-board unit (UBO) and to put money (OBU) on the account (minimum 25 EUR).

When the OBU is no longer needed it can be returned to any BelToll Customer Service Point. The deposit of 20 EUR is given back after returning the working OBU.

The rates for using the toll roads vary from €0.04 to €0.12 per 1 km depending on the maximum laden weight of the vehicle.

Please note that citizens belonging to the Customs Union, driving motor vehicles with maximum laden weight not exceeding 3.5 tons are not required to pay the toll.

 

Forced stop within the territory of the Republic of Belarus

Article 37 of the Law of the Republic of Belarus “On the legal status of foreign citizens and stateless persons” states that transit passage (transit) of foreigners through the territory of the Republic of Belarus should be performed within a period not exceeding two days from the date of their entry into the Republic of Belarus, except in the exceptional cases where a forced stop has occurred.

The definition of a “Forced Stop” Under Article 37 of the act includes the following circumstances:

natural disasters, accidents and other emergencies of natural or man-triggered nature, delay in the movement of the vehicle;
a need to repair damage to the vehicle;

disease or health condition, where further transit may pose a risk to the foreigners health or well being as defined by a registered Belorussian health practitioner,

unanticipated delays in transfers from one mode of transport to another at the transfer point,

occurrence of other unforeseen circumstances that prevent the further travel of the foreigner.

If a forced stop does occur, travelers should contact the Department of Internal Affairs regarding a Transit Visa extension. The issuance of a Visa extension is then conducted  in the location of the forced stop. The Department of Internal Affairs will formalize a Visa for the exit of Belarus not exceeding 5 days over the original Visa Documents expiry. If for whatever reason it is deemed impossible to depart from the territory of Belarus within the 5 days of the Visa Extension, the Department of Internal Affairs will formalize a Visa agreement for a period of time deemed necessary to eliminate the circumstances of the Forced Stop.

In rare cases of refusal to issue the registration or Visa for exit from the Republic of Belarus, the foreigners and their lawful representatives have the right to appeal the given decision in a court of the Republic of Belarus.

All in all, I hope that these important points will facilitate your transit through the territory of the Republic of Belarus, help to save your time and funds.

 

Names and links to appropriate laws:

– The Law of the Republic of Belarus № 15 of January 20, 2010 “On the legal status of foreign citizens and stateless persons in the Republic of Belarus” – http://www.pravo.by/pdf/2010-15/2010-15(028-086).pdf
– “On Approval of the Rules of Transit Passage (Transit) of Foreign Citizens and Stateless Persons through the Territory of the Republic of Belarus” Resolution of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus
No. 63 of January 19, 2006 – http://law.by/main.aspx?guid=3871&p0=C20600063e

About Yuri Drazdow (61 Articles)
Yuri Drazdow is the founder and owner of The Minsk Herald. He is also a journalist specialising in area of business and politics. He has degrees in Journalism and Software Engineering and has been working on media and IT projects in Minsk and London.
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