New entry rules to Belarus (2021)
New entry rules 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly had a great effect on the world in general and the tourism industry in particular. People began to travel much less and when they do travel, they do it mostly out of necessity. Now, during the period of active vaccination and the introduction of increased precautions, many have a renewed desire to travel and learn about different countries, including Belarus. However, the pandemic has led to certain consequences and restrictions that should be kept in mind if you intend to visit Belarus for tourism, medical treatment, work or any other purpose. This article will talk about the possible restrictions that may await you at the entry into the country, and about the measures that can be taken to comply with these new restrictions.
Entering Belarus under COVID-19: what to pay attention to
The presence of entry restrictions largely depends on the status of the arriving individual. Thus, entry restrictions (such as the presence of a PCR test and self-isolation) do not apply to citizens of the Republic of Belarus and to foreigners with temporary/permanent residence permits in Belarus. An exception to the above is when the groups of individuals arrive to Belarus from countries where cases of COVID-19 are registered. Also, Belarusian citizens and foreigners with residence permits are allowed to enter Belarus through both air and land checkpoints.
The situation is different when it comes to foreigners who do not have a residence permit in Belarus. Firstly,currently they are allowed to cross the border only through airports. Secondly, upon arrival in the country, they have to present a negative PCR test and, depending on the country they come from, undergo compulsory self-isolation.
Entry through the airport
Entry through the airport for citizens of the Republic of Belarus and the necessity of a PCR test
There are no entry restrictions for citizens of the Republic of Belarus who return to the country by plane. They also don’t need to submit a negative PCR test.
Entry of foreign citizens with temporary or permanent residence permits into the Republic of Belarus through the airport and the necessity of a PCR test
There are also no restrictions for foreigners with temporary/permanent residence permits which allow them to reside in the Republic of Belarus. They also don’t have to present a PCR test upon entry.
Entry of foreign nationals, who don’t have temporary or permanent residence permits, into the Republic of Belarus and the necessity of a PCR test
The situation is somewhat different when it comes to foreigners who don’t have permits for temporary or permanent residence in the Republic of Belarus. One should remember that these individuals are allowed to enter the country only through the airport. Also, foreign nationals and stateless persons who don’t have a residence permit in Belarus are required to submit a negative PCR test when entering the country. The PCR test must be done within 3 days before crossing the border.
As for the prerequisite of self-isolation, you should refer to the list of countries compiled by the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Belarus. If you enter Belarus from a country in the "green zone", you don’t need to be in self-isolation. If you enter Belarus from a country that is in the "red zone" (or, in other words, from the country where cases of COVID-19 are registered), then you’ll need to be in self-isolation for 7 calendar days.
Entry of vaccinated people through the airport: vaccination deadlines and required documents
The aforementioned restrictions don’t apply to foreigners who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and have documentary proof of that (e.g., a certificate).
The vaccination course must have been completed at least one month before and no more than twelve months before the border crossing. The vaccination document should contain the following information: name of the citizen, own name and patronymic name (if available), as well as the date when the vaccination course was completed. Data may be presented in Russian (or Belarusian) and/or English. At the same time, the authenticity of the translation or the authenticity of the translator's signature on the document must be notarized.
Entering Belarus through land checkpoints
Entry into Belarus through land checkpoints for the citizens of the Republic of Belarus and for foreigners with temporary or permanent resident permits: the necessity of a PCR test
For citizens of the Republic of Belarus and foreigners who have temporary or permanent residence permits in Belarus, there are no restrictions regarding the entry into Belarus through land checkpoints. They are also not required to carry a PCR test. However, if a foreigner with a residence permit in Belarus enters the state from a country in the "red zone," a 7-day self-exclusion will be mandatory for them.
Entry of foreigners who don’t have a temporary or permanent residence permit through land checkpoints and the necessity of a PCR test
As for foreign nationals and stateless persons who don’t have a residence permit, their entry into the Republic of Belarus is temporarily suspended. However, there are some exceptions. For example, this restriction (as well as the obligation to submit a negative PCR test and comply with self-isolation) doesn’t apply to the following categories of individuals:
- Foreigners entering the country on the grounds of diplomatic or service passports, UN or EU travel documents, as well as family members accompanying them;
- Heads and other members of official delegations;
- Foreigners rendering international technical, foreign gratuitous and other aid to the Republic of Belarus;
- Drivers in carrying out international road transportation and transportation of international mail;
- Crew members of air vessels and inland water transport vessels, train and locomotive teams, as well as conductors of freight cars in the process of international railway communications;
- Foreigners entering Belarus due to serious illness or death of a close relative or a spouse (moreover, the restrictions do not apply to individuals accompanying them);
- Foreigners transporting stem cells or organs for transplantation;
- Foreigners who are transiting through Belarus in accordance with the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Belarus and the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on a simplified procedure for passage of the road section of Slavutich - Chernobyl NPP, which passes through the territory of Belarus, by employees, vehicles, cargo of the Chernobyl NPP and enterprises that operate in the exclusion zone, as well as foreign specialists involved in international Chernobyl shutdown projects;
- Foreigners entering Belarus on the ground of an invitation issued by legal entities registered in Belarus (permits are issued on the basis of the invitation of the legal entity or a paper copy thereof);
- Foreign citizens entering Belarus on the basis of concluded contracts on provision of tourist services for hunting tours which involve their participation.
For certain categories of foreigners in case of their arrival from the "red zone" a PCR test and 7 days self-isolation are mandatory, and in case of arrival from the "green zone" a PCR test is mandatory, while self-isolation is not required. These categories include:
- Foreigners (as well as persons accompanying them) arriving for the purpose of receiving medical care, if they present documents from a healthcare organization - such as an invitation, healthcare contract, etc. (or copies of such documents);
- Close relatives (which includes parents, adoptive parents, children, including adopted children, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren) and spouses of Belarusian citizens or foreigners who have permission for permanent or temporary residence in Belarus;
- Foreigners who have the right to work in Belarus and who can prove it by corresponding documents;
- Foreign citizens who arrive to Belarus for obtaining education (in particular, for enrollment in educational institutions of the Republic of Belarus) upon presentation of documents (or copies of such documents) of educational institutions of the Republic of Belarus which prove the purpose of the visit. Such documents include an invitation for education, a certificate of education, etc.
For some categories of citizens PCR-test is obligatory and self-isolation is not required. These categories include:
- Citizens of the Russian Federation, who are travelling to Belarus from Kaliningrad region by train and without transfers (at the entrance they will have to provide a PCR test in the system "Travelling without COVID-19");
- Individuals entering Belarus for the purpose of vaccination against COVID-19.
Entry of vaccinated people through land checkpoints: vaccination dates and required documents
Foreigners arriving in Belarus from the "red zone" are exempt from self-exclusion, if they have a certificate of vaccination against COVID-19. The vaccination course must be completed no later than 1 month and no earlier than 12 months prior to the date of arrival in Belarus. The vaccination document should contain the person's name, patronymic (if any), surname, and the date of completion of the vaccination course (in Belarusian or Russian and/or English).
Travelling to Belarus from Russia by train
Citizens of the Russian Federation entering Belarus through land checkpoints, unless they have a temporary or permanent residence permit which allows them to reside in Belarus, are required to carry a PCR test.
Self-isolation upon arrival in Belarus: the “red” and the “green zone”
Self-isolation is mandatory for citizens of the Republic of Belarus and foreigners who arrive in Belarus from countries in the "red zone" (the list of such countries is approved by the Ministry of Health) - that is, from countries where cases of COVID-19 infection are registered. Self-isolation lasts for 7 calendar days from the date of arrival in Belarus. Until the expiry of the self-isolation period, incoming individuals are not permitted to further cross the border.
A list of "red zone" countries can be found on the website of the Ministry of Health: http://minzdrav.gov.by/ru/dlya-belorusskikh-grazhdan/strany-krasnoy-zony.php.
Transit through the territory of the Republic of Belarus
Restrictions regarding entry into the Republic of Belarus do not apply to citizens of the Russian Federation who transit to Russia through land and air checkpoints: they don’t need to carry a PCR test and be on self-isolation.
Other categories of foreigners can travel through Belarus in transit only through air checkpoints. PCR-test and self-isolation are not required when an individual can give documentary evidence of their transit within 24 hours. In this case, "transit" means:
- Entry of a foreigner into Belarus through an air checkpoint, following a set route through the territory of the state and subsequent exit of the foreigner to another country at a road checkpoint;
- Entry of foreigner to Belarus through air checkpoint from one state and their subsequent exit to another state by air in the same checkpoint (in the same transit territory);
- Entry of a foreigner to Belarus through an air checkpoint and their subsequent exit to the Russian Federation through the same airport.
The documents confirming transit travel through the territory of the Republic of Belarus are:
- A travel document (a ticket), a transit visa of the Republic of Belarus, an official invitation of a certain body (organization);
- A ticket to a medical (recreational) institution and other documents.
If a foreigner has no document confirming their 24-hour transit through the territory of the Republic of Belarus, they will be given an Arrival Questionnaire, which should be given to an employee of the Border Guard when leaving the country. In this case, as a place of residence/stay, travellers will have to indicate in the questionnaire "transit through the territory of the Republic of Belarus within no more than 24 hours".
If the transit period exceeds 24 hours, the border crossing will be possible only with a certificate with a negative result of a PCR-test for COVID-19 infection. You need to apply to a health care institution of the Republic of Belarus in order to obtain this certificate.
Special considerations when crossing the Belarussian-Russian border
There is no control executed by Belarusian border guards on the Russian-Belarusian border: this applies both to airports and land checkpoints.
Citizens of the Russian Federation and foreigners arriving from the Russian Federation to Belarus who do not have a temporary/permanent residence permit in the Republic of Belarus are required to submit a PCR test in accordance with the Resolution of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus No. 705 of December 7, 2020: http://www.government.by/upload/docs/filed0b596bfebf36164.PDF.
Citizens of the Russian Federation transiting through Belarus via land or air checkpoints are not subject to restrictions upon their entry into the country. They do not need to present a PCR test and comply with self-isolation regulations.
Citizens of the Russian Federation, who come to Belarus from third countries through air checkpoints not for the purpose of transit, must have a certificate with a negative result of a PCR test. For persons arriving in Belarus from the "red zone" countries, a 7-day self-isolation is mandatory.
Citizens of the Republic of Belarus, foreigners with a temporary/permanent residence permit and citizens of the Russian Federation are allowed to travel to the territory of the Kaliningrad region by rail without transfer while en route.
Arriving in Belarus for the purpose of vaccination
Self-isolation is abolished for individuals who travel to Belarus for the purpose of being vaccinated.
- I was vaccinated with a Pfizer vaccine three months ago. Am I allowed to visit the Republic of Belarus?
Answer: The vaccination course must be completed at least 1 month and no more than 12 months before the border crossing. In this case the 12-month period hasn't expired yet, which means you can come to Belarus.
- I want to come to Belarus in order to get vaccinated. Do I need a PCR-test?
Answer: Yes, you do. Foreigners traveling to the Republic of Belarus for the purpose of vaccination against COVID-19 must provide a PCR test, but are exempt from mandatory self-isolation.
- My PCR test has expired, can I still come to Belarus?
Answer: A negative PCR-test made within 3 days before the border crossing is required in order for a visitor to enter the territory Belarus. The validity of the PCR document is calculated from the date of its execution (i.e. from the first day of the PCR test) and until its expiry on the fourth day. If your PCR-test is overdue, it is considered invalid for entry into the Republic of Belarus. Therefore, it’s highly recommended that you have a PCR-test done before crossing the border. It can be taken at the microbiological laboratory in the MinskNational Airport (testing is available for both arriving and departing passengers). In order to pass the test in the laboratory you need to present your ticket or your boarding pass if you have an electronic record. Details about the microbiology lab's hours of operation can be found here: http://airport.by/uslugi/magaziny-kafe-restorany/medicinskaa-laboratoria.
- I want to visit Belarus without a visa requirement. Is it possible and what do I need in order to do this under COVID-19 conditions?
Answer: It’s possible to enter Belarus without a visa requirement. Citizens of several dozen states (here you can find a list of those states: https://www.tuda-suda.by/poleznyashki/turkhaki/2661-spisok-bezvizovykh-stran-dlya-belorusov-na-2021-god) have a 30-day visa-free regime, but in this case you can enter and leave Belarus only through the National Airport of Minsk. Visa-free regime for foreigners doesn't apply to foreigners arriving to Belarus from Russian airports, as well as those going to Russian airports, because these flights are considered as domestic flights without any border control. Visa-free regime also does not apply to foreign nationals entering Belarus for the purpose of employment, business or study if their stay exceeds 30 days.
In order to enter Belarus under the visa-free regime you need to bring:
- A valid passport or other substitute document for traveling abroad;
- Cash (each day should be an amount in foreign currency or Belarusian rubles equivalent of not less than two basic units, or if you’re staying in Belarus for exactly 30 days - the equivalent of 50 basic units);
- Health insurance policy which is valid in Belarus at the amount of not less than 10,000 euro;
- Nationals of Vietnam, Haiti, Gambia, India, Lebanon, Namibia and Samoa also must have a valid multiple entry visa of EU or Schengen member states with a note confirming arrival at their territory, and air tickets with confirmation of departure from the National airport of Minsk within 30 days from the date of entry.
It should be noted that foreign citizens who intend to stay on the territory of the Republic of Belarus for more than 10 days must register with the bodies of internal affairs at the place of their stay in the country. When staying in hotels, sanatoriums and other places of collective accommodation, registration is carried out by the administrations of these institutions at the time of check-in by default.
As for the pandemic requirements for entry into Belarus, they remain similar to those for all foreigners in general. If you don’t have a temporary/permanent residence permit, currently you can enter the state only through air checkpoints. All foreigners aged 6 years or older arriving in Belarus must present a negative PCR test done not more than 3 days before crossing the border. If you are arriving in Belarus from a country in the "red zone," you will also need to comply with the 7-day mandatory self-isolation.
- I want to come to Belarus in order to receive medical treatment. What do I need for that?
Answer: Foreigners who come to the Republic of Belarus for the purpose of receiving medical treatment have to to present documents (or copies of such documents) issued by health care organizations of the Republic of Belarus (it can be an invitation, an agreement on provision of medical care, etc.) that confirm the purpose of their trip. In this case, they, as well as persons accompanying them, will not need to self-isolate upon arrival in Belarus (but they will still need to present a negative PCR test).
- Where can I get PCR tests done if I want to travel abroad?
Answer: Answer: The list of healthcare organizations that have the right to conduct laboratory tests for SARS-CoV-2 on a fee basis can be found on the website of the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Belarus. PCR test results are available in Russian and English. In Minsk, it is possible to take a PCR test at the following institutions:
- State Institution "Minsk City Center of Hygiene and Epidemiology," Laboratory, P. Brovka st., 13;
- State Institution "Minsk City Center of Hygiene and Epidemiology", laboratory located in the National Airport "Minsk";
- Minsk Scientific and Practical Center for Surgery, Transplantology and Hematology;
- State Institution National Centre for Hygiene, Epidemiology and Public Health;
- State Institution “National Scientific and Practical Centre for Epidemiology and Microbiology”;
- State Institution “National Scientific and Practical Center for Transfusiology and Medical Biotechnology”;
- State Institution “National Clinical Medical Center”;
- State Institution “National Scientific and Practical Center for Sports”;
- Healthcare Institution "Municipal Clinical Dermatovenerologic Dispensary";
- Health Care Institution "2nd City Clinical Hospital";
- Municipal Clinical Infectious Diseases Hospital;
- N.N. Aleksandrov National Scientific and Practical Center of Oncology and Medical Radiology.