Border area residents make a move

Belarus and Latvia begin issue of permits to simplify border crossing, as envisaged by agreement for residents of border areas

An inter-governmental agreement was signed in Riga on August 23rd, 2010. Later, on December 1st, 2011, Vitebsk’s Regional Executive Committee exchanged written notifications with Latvia, to allow the inter-state document to enter into force. Since then, local authorities have been compiling lists of border area residents who qualify for permits.

The State Border Committee of Belarus has created a special Internet site (www.traffic.gpk.gov.by) defining the exact border territories to which the new system applies, as well as listing the documents needed to cross the border. Residents of border areas of Belarus and Latvia will be able to visit corresponding border territories without the need for a visa, if they hold a permit for ‘local border traffic’. These will be issued to residents of border territories: by the General Consulate in Daugavpils for those wishing to visit Belarus and by the Consulate in Vitebsk for those wishing to visit Latvia.

Residents must have permanently resided in the border territory for at least one year to qualify — or must be part of a joint household (spouses, parents, grandparents and children under the age of 18). The new permits cost 20 Euros, but pensioners, invalids and children under 18 may be exempt from payment. Each permit will last between one and five years but no longer than the expiry date of the valid travel document and the total period of stay in the other state cannot exceed 90 days within six months.

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