Russia to scrap visas for SA travellers from April


Cape Town - From April 1, South African leisure travellers will no longer need to apply for visas when travelling to Russia.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation said in a statement that South African citizens travelling to Russia without the intention of working, studying or living in the country will be free from visa requirements and can enter, stay or transit without a visa for a duration of up to 90 days. 

The Department of Home Affairs (DOH) has been engaging with Russia on the issue since last year, with some travellers having jumped the gun on the official implementation period and the Russian Embassy to South Africa at the time warning that visa-free travel between the two countries for a period up to 90 days was not yet in effect. 

SEE: Visa-free travel between Russian and SA on the cards but not in effect as yet

South African tour operator Trafalgar responded to the decision saying,  it is "very welcome news for travellers".

Theresa Szejwallo, MD The Travel Corporation South Africa, explains the visa process for Russia was a cumbersome and time-consuming process.

Szejwallo says,“We had to request invitations in Russian for all our travellers, which the travellers then had to present in person to the embassy to apply for a visa.” 

SEE: A South African's first impressions of Russia

Russia is a destination that has considerably increased in popularity with South African travellers during the past year. According to Szejwallo, Trafalgar’s Eastern Europe destinations, including Russia, are up 56% year on year.

"Although most travellers are still reluctant to explore the destination on their own, they feel it’s a lot safer and easier to travel in group to Russia with a reputable company." 

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