What is the change? Russian officials are treating flights to and from Belarus as international flights, a change in policy after the flights were previously treated the same as domestic travel.

What does the change mean? Russian and Belarusian nationals arriving in Russia on flights from Belarus will land in an international terminal and be directed to control points for citizens of the “Union State.” They should be sure to carry a boarding pass and their passports. Third-country nationals will be required to go through border controls and must carry their passports as well. Third-country nationals can transit through Russia when flying directly to Belarus, but the visa-free program Belarus implemented in January is not available for travelers arriving in Minsk on flights from Russia.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate and ongoing. The change took effect May 15.
  • Who is affected: Passengers traveling by plane between Russia and Belarus, including Russian and Belarusian nationals.
  • Impact on processing times: The change is likely to slow the entry process for travelers arriving in Russia on flights from Belarus.

Background: For years, flights between Russia and Belarus were treated the same as domestic flights within Russia. This changed Monday, however, and flights from Belarus will be routed to international terminals in Russia airports. That said, Russian and Belarusian nationals will have quicker entry procedures than third-country nationals, as they will be routed to a line specifically for Union State nationals. Belarus seems unlikely to implement similar procedures at its airports for flights from Russia, with authorities saying they see no reason to do so at this point.

BAL Analysis: Travelers should take note of the change and build extra time into their travel plans if necessary.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Russia. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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