Visit St Petersburg Visa Free! See how to get to Russia by ferry or by an international cruise ship without applying for a visa.
If for a long time you have been dreaming of putting your feet on Russian soil without going through the hassle and cost of arranging a visa, now your dream can turn into reality. Finally, after a couple of years of political debate, there is an option to visit Russia for up to 72 hours Visa-Free.
You should know that there are about 60 nationalities which don't need a visa to enter Russia. These are countries with good diplomatic relations with Russia and that have visa waiver treaties with the country. For example, the Commonwealth of Independent States (former countries of the USSR), some countries of South and Central America, and countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania.
See below the full list of countries eligible to enter Russia and St Petersburg visa free; perhaps you're lucky and you are from one of these countries.☺
However, if you are not a citizen of any of these countries (and you don’t have a diplomatic passport), then you need to apply for a Russian Visa unless you choose to travel by sea on an international cruise ship or on a ferry line.
Thanks to the new Visa Waiver Program launched by the Russian government in 2012, worldwide cruise passengers can enter Russia through the following ports: St. Petersburg (the crown jewel of Russia), Anadyr, Arkhangelsk, Kaliningrad, Korsakov, Novorossiysk, Murmansk, Sevastopol, Sochi, Vladivostok, Vyborg and Zarubino without a visa for a period of up to 72 hours.
On the contrary, ferry passengers can enter Russia via St. Petersburg from Helsinki, Tallinn, and Stockholm with St. Peter Line Ferry company or from Lappeenranta to Saint Petersburg or Vyborg with the company Saimaa Travel.
Today this is the only way that currently allows you to enter Russia and visit St Petersburg visa free. This option is available to all nationalities, so for you too if you comply with the given conditions.
Now let's see what regulations and conditions are in place to enter Russia and cruise to St Petersburg visa free. To get started just click on the links below or scroll down the page. Happy reading!
Below you can find a list of countries who their citizens are exempt from applying for Russian visas. We split these countries into four sections with different requirements and different limitations on the length of stay.
Countries: Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine. Citizens of the countries of the CIS (the Commonwealth of Independent States) are permitted to stay in the Russian Federation for up to 90 days without a Visa.
Countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Israel, Nicaragua, Peru, Venezuela, South Africa. Citizens of these countries are allowed to stay in the Russian Federation without a Visa for up to 90 days in each 180-day period, provided they will not be involved in any commercial or work-related activities during their stay.
Countries: Cuba, Montenegro, Serbia (with biometric passport), Thailand, South Korea (up to 60 days), Hong Kong SAR (up to 14 days), Macao SAR. Please note that citizens of Turkey no longer qualify for Visa-free travel to Russia (starting January 1, 2016). Citizens of the countries in this group can stay in the Russian Federation for up to 30 days without a Visa. They are not entitled to work while in Russia.
Countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia. Citizens of these Balkan countries can also stay in Russia without a Visa for up to 30 days, but must also show tourist documents (tourist confirmation and tourist voucher) or an official invitation to immigration officials.
Keep in mind that even if you do not need a Russian Visa, you will still need a passport valid for at least six months after the date of your proposed exit from Russia. Moreover, you will have to register with the Federal Migration Service upon arrival.
If you plan to visit St. Petersburg on an International Cruise Ship like Norwegian Getway or Regal Princess, for instance, or if you book a cruise and St. Petersburg is one of the calls, you don't need to get a Russian visa before you go. However, travelling without a Russian visa does impose strict limitations on your time in Saint Petersburg, so it's a good idea thinking of getting an E-Visa before you start your cruise so that you enjoy much more freedom of movement in the city.
In accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation (RF
Government Resolution №397) to be eligible for the visa-free entry as a cruise ship passenger you must meet the following conditions:
The most popular cruises that visit St. Petersburg are Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line and MSC Cruises (there are also many other cruises that will take you to St. Petersburg on a journey through the Baltics).
When your cruise ship is approaching St. Petersburg, the first thing that will catch your attention will be the Lakhta Center, the tallest building in Europe, and the 13th highest in the world.
If you are traveling by ferry from Helsinki, Tallinn, and Stockholm (with a stop in Helsinki) to St. Petersburg with St. Peter Line Company (the only ferry company linking Europe to Russia), you can also enter Russia via the port of St. Petersburg without a Visa for a maximum period of 72 hours. Depending on the sailing schedule, you can also stay in St. Petersburg for 24 hours only.
In accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation (RF
Government Resolution №397) to be eligible for the visa-free entry as a cruise ferry passenger, you must meet the following conditions:
The ferry ride is classified as a cruise only if passengers book the mandatory city bus tour through St. Peter Line. This is the loophole that lets you enter St Petersburg visa free. The bus tour is simply a shuttle that runs across Vasilevskiy Island to the city center, in which you can make stops.
Unlike cruise passengers who are forced to spend the night on the ship, if they want to enter the city without a visa, ferry passengers travelling with St. Peter Line need to book a hotel or apartment during their stay.
All major ship cruises with international destinations, including Russia, will require you to have the following documents before boarding the ship:
For your information, check-in is available three months out from your sailing date. If you haven't already, check with your cruise line before this date to see what documents your cruise trip requires to go to St Petersburg visa free.
Each cruise line is a little different, but generally, you'll need to set up an account with a username and password, if you haven't already. Input your passport information and credit card payment information for making easy onboard payments.
Once you're logged into your cruise line website you can check-in for multiple people in your party who are linked to your reservation; you can print your boarding passes, luggage tags, and you can also book shore excursions or make appointments for onboard activities, and much more.
When you travel with St. Peter Line Ferry to St. Petersburg, Russia (the only ferry line that exclusively operates this route from Europe) the check-in officer will hand over to you the following documents:
Please note that the check-in officer will ask for your passports and proof of hotel accommodation before boarding and give you all the documents listed above. If you are not a European passport holder remember to check your Schengen eligibility.
We recommend avoiding taking this boat trip to St Petersburg visa free if you are running close to the end of your Schengen eligibility or you don't have a Schengen visa before you make it to Europe.
Upon your arrival in the seaport of Saint Petersburg, you should leave the ferry and proceed to passport and visa control. In order to speed up the migration control procedure, make sure you have the following documents on you before leaving the ship:
Please note that you can ask for a migration card onboard the ferry or the ship, and at the passport control at the sea terminal in Saint Petersburg.
Once you have gone through migration and customs control, you can proceed to the hall of the sea station, which is located right behind the terminal. Outside the sea terminal building, you have two options to get to the city: If you have purchased an organized tour, your guide will take you by bus to the city center, while if you are travelling on your own, you can get to the city center in two ways: by public transportation or by taxi.
If you are a ferry passenger you can exit on your own by taking the local Bus N.58 or by taking the minibuses offered by St. Peter Line Ferry, the so-called city bus tour or shuttle you had to book to be able to go ashore legally.
On your departure day, you should return to the seaport terminal by the shuttle bus you have booked through St. Peter Line Ferry or by a private car or bus arranged by the tour company you've booked your private tour with.
Inside the terminal, you must check-in for the ferry or ship providing your passport and the cruise booking confirmation. Later, you walk directly into the migration and customs control area where you will be asked to show your passport, migration card or slip, and your arrival-departure card or returning board cruise pass. Once you're on the ship, they will scan your boarding pass in and from that moment you are free to go to your room or anywhere in the ship.
The following tips and recommendations may help you to clear up any further questions you may have about the Russian Visa Waiver Program.
We hope you have found this page "St Petersburg Visa Free" Helpful.