Belarus scraps visa requirement for 80 countries

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has signed a decree scrapping visa requirements for the citizens of 80 countries, including 39 countries of Europe - Latvia included - and of the United States, reported LETA.

"The document establishes visa-free regulations for entering Belarus for no more than five days, on entry through a checkpoint on the national border, the National Airport of Minsk, for the citizens of 80 states. The decree applies to the citizens of 39 countries of Europe, including all of the European Union, as well as Brazil, Indonesia, the United States, Japan and other countries," spokespeople for the president of Belarus said.

The countries on the list are primarily those which Belarus regards as favorable in terms of migration, strategic partners and countries that have unilaterally introduced visa-free travel for Belarusian citizens. The new rules also apply to stateless residents of Latvia and Estonia.

"The document aims to intensify business travel, tourism, and private trips by holders of ordinary passports, and will not apply to foreigners traveling in their official capacity: diplomatic, official, special and other equated passports will not be eligible," the press office said.

The decree will take effect one month after its publication.

As Latvia shares a 173-kilometer border with Belarus, the ruling is likely to have a significant impact on the flow of people heading east for day trips or to do business, who will no longer have to go to the trouble of obtaining a visa. Cross-border shopping is also likely to get a boost.

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