Russia’s plan to facilitate visa procedures for citizens of the European Union members, in order to increase tourism is coming into life. But, in the latest decision of the world’s biggest country by area is not included the UK, which is now in the transitional period of leaving the EU.

The new visa program of Russia is looking forward to including the 27 EU countries and the four non-EU Schengen members.

Russia expects that tourists from 53 other countries will make up the shortfall of the new system of visas that will be available from 1 January 2021 and the citizens of these countries will be able to travel throughout the whole territory of Russia for up to 16 days, VisaGuide.World reports.

Even though some have considered the decision of not including the UK in the new visa process as political, the co-editor of Hidden Europe Nicky Gardner, says that this is Russia’s response to the high visa charges which the United Kingdom demands, even for short visits by Russians.

“Consider it the result of political tensions, if you will, but we suspect it’s more a tit-for-tat move by Russia in response to the unusually high visa charges which the United Kingdom demands even for short visits by Russians,” Gardner pointed out.

He added that as the UK tightens its entrance requirements, the progressive relaxation of visa regimes elsewhere in Europe is very welcome.

“The existing e-visa scheme covering just those three designated Russian regions has one big plus: there is absolutely no charge. But the new nationwide scheme will have a fee,” Gardner also highlighted. 

Currently, the new e-visa does not require any fees to be paid, but the head of the Russian Federal Agency for Tourism Zarina Doguzova had said that the fee may be about €50.

According to the Independent, the e-visa is expected to cost US$50 (£38) – while the standard Russian visa for British travellers is over £100.

British travellers who want to get into Russia still will be required to apply on visa application centres that are located in London, Manchester or Edinburgh.

Aside from the United Kingdom, citizens of Canada and the United States of America are also ineligible to benefit for this visa program.

Britons Holding Fan-IDs Eligible for Visa-Free Entry During Euro 2020

The only Britons exempt from the regular visa will be fans of UK football team who obtain a ticket to one of the matches that will be played in St Petersburg, during Euro 2020. These fans will qualify to get a “Fan-ID”.

With a “Fan-ID”, they will be eligible to enter freely in Russia, during the tournament, and for a set period after it finishes, as they were eligible to do so in the World Cup of 2018.

The “Fan-ID” holders can enter into Russia between May 30 and July 3 and stay up to the end of July 2020.

Over 5.1 million overseas tourists arrived in Russia, in 2019 which was an increment for about fifth more compared to 2018, when Russia hosted the World Cup, according to the Association of Tour Operators of Russia.

From the 5.1 million tourists, about 30 per cent were Chinese citizens who don’t need a visa to enter Russia. But due to the coronavirus outbreak and the Kremlin ban for Chinese citizens, the number of visitors for 2020, is expected to drop, in particular of visitors from China.

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