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Opinions & Interviews

15 Feb 2017

MFA: Visa-free stay in Belarus may be extended to two weeks

MFA: Visa-free stay in Belarus may be extended to two weeks

MINSK, 15 February (BelTA) – If a decision is made to extend the period of visa-free stay in Belarus, it will most probably involve an extension of up to two weeks so that foreigners could, for instance, visit health improvement and wellness centers, spokesman for the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dmitry Mironchik said during an online conference on the website of the Belarusian TV and Radio Company on 15 February, BelTA has learned.

Dmitry Mironchik noted that further decisions regarding the period of visa-free stay in Belarus will depend on the results of the five-day visa-free policy already in effect, the interest from foreign nationals, and some other criteria. “Further steps will depend on these criteria. Most probably we will consider extending the visa-free stay period. The requirement of entering the country via Minsk National Airport will remain in place, but the allowed period of stay may be extended,” the MFA spokesman said.

When asked to give details about the possible extension, Dmitry Mironchik noted that the possibility of combining tourism with visits to health and wellness resorts is one of Belarus’ advantages. An average stay at a health improvement center lasts for about 12 days. “If we decide to make another step, it will be reasonable to talk about 12 or 14 days,” the spokesman pointed out.

At the same time, he stressed that it is too early to talk about such changes. “We see the direction we should go. But as usual, we will be treading carefully,” Dmitry Mironchik said.

He also explained that the decision to introduce five-day visa-free travel was based on the ‘wise sufficiency’ principle. Dmitry Mironchik noted that the Minsitry of Foreign Affairs initially proposed a longer period. The final decision was made bearing in mind that Belarus has a law that regulates the legal status of foreign nationals and stateless persons and requires those who stay in Belarus for longer than five days to undergo a registration procedure. The visa-free entry rules indicate that foreigners entering Belarus via Minsk National Airport are not required to undergo any formalities, including registration, once they pass the border checkpoint. “If we had insisted on a longer period of stay, it would have been necessary to amend the law, which is a time-consuming process that has to be considered in the parliament. We felt it was time to take the visa-free travel decision,” Dmitry Mironchik said.

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