Sorry Mel. I read your post...
Paperwork for travelling(not working)
Canadian citizens do not need visas, for most European countries. They can stay up to 3 months, in each country. Their passport must be valid for 6 months after entry into a country. Canadians need visas, for Russia,Turkey,Estonia, Latvia, Poland and Romania. If canadians have a visa, for Estonia, Latvia or Lithuania, they can enter, any of the three countries, with the same visa.
Which as it lists countries that Canadians need visa's to visit, and doesn't list Belarus, I read it that you were saying that you don't need a visa. Putting 2 and 2 togetehr, if you have taken that from the Rough Guide to Europe, it probably doesn't include Belarus (or Ukraine or Moldova, as many don't), so wouldnt comment about Belarus visa's excpet for transit to Russia (which i'm guessing is included in the guide book, or at least Moscow and St. Pete's are).
There are many reports of embassies (such as the UK) still requiring invitations for tourists visas from European and Canadian citizens.
This is true, but in standard Soviet style, seems to be a requirement of certain embassies, as oposed to the official requirement. This is no way unique - diplomatic reciprocity, and individual embassy quirks cuase many problems in that different embassies say or do different things to official policy, often for no apparent reason, and often also depending on who at the embassy you deal with, where you are resident, if the month has a Q in the name, or what your passport is.
There's nothing you can do about that, and you need to tailor your stuff to the specific embassy that you are applying to's requirements, rather than the offical country requirements. Annoying it can be, yes, but there's feck al lyou can do about it, and many embassies of former Soviet countries in particular have their own quirks and bizare rules/Requirements.
And to kind of prove that point:
no longer need to submit formal letters of invitation to obtain Visitor and Business visas.
Despite the fact that I have an EU passport so should be exempt, I HAVE had to get an official invitation letter to renew my business visa, and that is still taking a chunk of time.
We can answer your questions about Belarus. We have been there many times as my wife is from Minsk. Belarus can be both expensive and a bit challenging to travel to. But if you plan correctly, you can minimize both.
For example, usually the least expensive way to get to Minsk is usually via Vilnius, Lithuania. (unfortunately there are no real budget airlines flying to Belarus at this time). Lithuanian Airlines is positioning themselves as a discount airline, so if you book early enough you can fly to Vilnius for amazingly low rates. Then just take a 4 hour train ride and you are in the center of Minsk. This is often about 1/4 of the cost of flying directly to Minsk. I don't think that Lithuanian Airlines flies to Canada. BUT if you can fly to somewhere in Europe cheaply that IS served by LAL (such as London), you are in luck. You can do something similar by flying into Warsaw, but it is a 10 hour (and more expensive) train ride.
As for paperwork, at first it might seem daunting, but it is really not so bad. You need to get an invitation from a tourist agency. I suggest using a Belarusian Travel Agency that can offer you real help and advice. To get an invitation, the agency usually will reserve a hotel for you. The invitation usually costs between $25-30. Submit an application form, the invitation, hotel voucher and photo to the Belarus embassy (usually you can do everthing by mail) and in a week or two you will have a tourist visa. Private invitations are also possible, but a bit more challenging for your friend.
We have written an indepth Travel Guide for Belarus that covers all of this in detail. Have a look at it and let me know if you have more questions. I have subscribed to this thread and come back if I see a comment.
i have a couple of questions regarding the information found on your travel guide. i hope you don't mind me asking you, or anyone else out there.
it says that insurance is sometimes required. i remember from looking at another site that insurance needs to be purchased upon entry. because this is required, do i need additional insurance? i don't have any insurance and want to make sure that i won't have any problem visiting belarus in january. if the foreign traveler insurance is all i need, is that something i need to line up prior to travel or is that something i can take care of when i arrive at customs?
another question. i'm in the process of obtainning a private visa, something you do not recommend. my friend there is in the process of sending me the orginal invitation. with this invitation, will i need to provide hotel reservation information? if i stay with my friend i want to make sure i don't need to waste money in getting a hotel if i'm not going to stay in a hotel.
i hope my questions makes sense. i'm just trying to tie up all little questions as quickly as i can. thanks-b.
or does anyone else might know the answer to these questions?
"it says that insurance is sometimes required."
No, it does not say that!! Please be careful when quoting a source. Our guide says "Proof of medical insurance is required, but rarely requested at the embassy or at the border".
Insurance is a requirement by Belarus law! But your question is "do I need additional insurance". I have been to Belarus many times and have only been asked to show proof of insurance on two instances:
- When registering in a hotel
- When registration with the foreign police.
As you are not planning to stay in a hotel, it depends on if you are planning to stay long enough to be registered with the foreign police. Registration with foreign police is required if you stay longer than 3 working days.
On the otherhand, insurance is cheap! I believe that it costs about $.50/day. You can buy it when you enter the airport, before clearing passport control at one of the kiosks there. So, I always buy it just to avoid potential problems. But have never been asked for it when entering the country. It will probably also be required if you get ill. But I have fortunately never had to use it for this purpose. So, in the end, the decision is up to you.
I have never done the private visa, because I have found that it is just too much trouble for everyone involved. However, I will be very interested to hear your experiences with it. But the purpose of the private visa is to give you the right to stay at your friends house. I do not believe that you will need a hotel reservation if you are getting a private visa, because that is the point of the private visa. You will stay privately, not in a hotel. However, do remember, that if you stay more than three working days you are required to register with the foreign police. That is also a headache and you will need the help of your friend to accomplish that.
I hope that this answers your questions, but if not please feel free to ask again. I am subscribed to this thread.
[ Edit: Edited at Nov 18, 2006 12:51 AM by Eurotravel ]
i apologize for the confusion. what i had meant to say write was, "it says that insurance is sometimes requested." i'm sorry for the misunderstanding. however, thanks you for your reply. i'm not attempting to skip out on the required insurance, just attemtping to figure out if i need more than what they provide for sale? i think my question was answered regarding the insurance, thank you.i hope i didn't mislead anyone out there with my question-b.
I believe that for Belarus, the only kind of insurance that is "required" is the type you can buy at the boarder. I have never been asked for proof of insurance when applying for my visa or at any other time than the times I have mentioned (hotel and registering with foreign police).
But in any case, I suggest you apply early for your visa. A consulate officer can ask you for any supplemental information he/she thinks is necessary. Once when applying for a visa for Russia, the Russian consulate did not believe that my passport was valid. I had to get a letter from my consulate stating that my passport was in proper condition and then return to the Russian consulate. You never know. So, if indeed the Belarus consulate asks for proof of insurance, tell them you will buy it at the boarder. If they are not satisfied with that, you will have to buy an inexpensive travel insurance and return to the consulate with proof (or fax it to them).
thank you for the information. i had plans on applying for visa awhile ago but i had to renew my passport unfortunately which took a couple of week. my invitation is on the way and i've been told i should receive it my middle of next week. when it arrives, it along with all the other necessary information will travel to the embassy here in the states for the visa. thank you again for all the help and information. i'll make every attempt to drop back by and let you all know about my experience with the belarus private visa. thanks again-b.
Can anyone tell me exactly what the Visa looks like? I had it sent to a relatives place because I am out of town for this month. I was told that it had arrived but all that was included was my passport with some information on one of the pages. My relative said there is some cyrillic letters so she can't quite understand any of it. I searched online to see if I could find a website that layed out what everthing is but couldn't find anything for Belarus. The only thing I came across was how to read a Russian visa. What I'm attempting to find out is if nothing else is required and I have the visa. Second, are there dates in which I'm allowed to travel according to the visa? On my application I put I wanted to visit from January 1st. through January 31st. I just want to make sure when I buy plane ticket and go that everthing is okay upon my arrival to Belarus. I'm sorry for these questions, I've just never traveled some where that required a visa. Thanks for all the help-b.
Here is a photo of a US passport with a Ukrainian Visa
It is a an official paper that is glued onto one full page in your passport and will be written in English and Cyrillic. It will have your name, passport number, citizenship, etc written on it.
Your visa will be valied for a period of time, usually what you have requested. You may enter ONCE any time in that period. So, if the visa is valid for 1 Jan to 31 Jan, you can arrive in Belarus anytime during that time and you must leave before it expires. If you are staying privately, you will need to register with the foreing police while you are there.
I will be arriving in Belarus just a few days before you!