Russia plans to introduce 72-hour visa free transit at 11 of the country’s airports for travelers from 20 countries – including the United States in 2013-14.
The relaxed transit-visa rules will apply only to travelers with onward international tickets on major Russian carriers such as Aeroflot, Transaero, S7 or UTair.
The new visa regulations will apply to visitors from 20 countries, including Germany, China, the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Italy, France, Spain, South Korea, Japan, Poland, Canada, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Finland, Singapore, Australia and Greece.
Transit passengers will be required to have a valid passport or identity card, a hotel booking and medical insurance.
Many of the 11 airports that will be covered under the new visa rules lie in the Siberian region of Russia. This includes Novosibirsk, the largest city in Siberia, Vladivostok on the eastern coast and Khabarovsk.
Sochi, the city which will host the 2014 Winter Olympics, is also included.
The 11 airports with the new 72-hour visa-free transit are –
- Sheremetyevo International Airport, Domodedovo International Airport and Vnukovo International Airport in Moscow
- Pulkovo Airport in Saint Petersburg
- Kazan International Airport in Kazan
- Vladivostok International Airport in Vladivostok
- Koltsovo Airport in Yekaterinburg
- Khrabrovo Airport in Kaliningrad
- Tolmachevo Airport in Novosibirsk
- Sochi International Airport in Sochi
- Khabarovsk Novy Airport in Khabarovsk
Russian flag carrier Aeroflot expects a revenue jump of nearly a billion dollars once the new visa rules are introduced.
The Russian government also expects the annual tourist arrivals to jump by nearly 60 percent because of the new visa rules. Just 2.1 million foreign tourists visited Russia in 2012 – nearly the same number as Honduras or Costa Rica.