Posted: 27.12.2023 16:35:00

Our doors are open to kind guests

The President supported proposal to extend visa-free regime for residents of Lithuania, Latvia and Poland for 2024

The President of Belarus, Aleksandr Lukashenko, has supported the proposal of the Council of Ministers and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to extend the visa-free entry regime with Lithuania, Latvia and Poland for 2024, the Belarusian leader’s press service reports

Aleksandr Kulevsky

The President of Belarus, 
Aleksandr  Lukashenko,

“We will restore our ties with both Lithuania and Poland. It is unavoidable. The main principle is that neighbours should not be at odds with each other. I always say that neighbours are given to us by God, we cannot pick our neighbours. Disagreements happen, but they are all temporal. Time will come when we will live together as we always have, including the Soviet times.”

During a meeting with representatives of the personnel and builders of the Belarusian NPP and residents of Ostrovets on November 3rd, 2023

On April 15th, 2022, a visa-free entry procedure was introduced for citizens of Lithuania and Latvia, as well as for persons with the status of a non-citizen of Latvia. On July 1st, 2022, the same regime came into force for Poles. In December 2022, it was extended to 2023.
The visa-free regime in 2022-2023 has shown a steady interest of residents of the neighbouring countries to visit the Republic of Belarus, despite obstacles and restrictions on the part of the leadership of Lithuania, Latvia and Poland.
The visa-free regime makes it possible to demonstrate Belarus’ openness to restore normal equal-right interaction with its neighbours, to maintain ties with the Belarusian national minority and to overcome the information blockade from political elites of the neighbouring countries through interpersonal communications.
The foreign policy of Belarus has always been aimed at good neighbourliness and strengthening ties with those states that are ready to sincerely be friends with us and co-operate on an equal basis. Therefore, even in pre-Covid times, the Belarusian side allowed citizens of 80 countries to fly to Belarus without a visa for a period of no more than 5 days when entering through the state border checkpoint at Minsk National Airport. This was addressed by Presidential Decree No. 8 of January 9th, 2017 ‘On the Establishment of a Visa-Free Procedure for the Entry and Exit of Foreign Citizens’.
And yet, despite the obstacles and restrictions from the leadership of Lithuania, Latvia and Poland, residents of neighbouring countries are showing increasing interest in visiting Belarus. Numerous positive reviews from guests about the situation in our country are recorded on social networks, contrasting with the negative propaganda of the official authorities. Moreover, in addition to visa-free travel, the leadership of the regions of Belarus bordering Poland, Lithuania and Latvia has lifted restrictions on the export of food products from Belarus for personal use for individuals in these countries. As a result, an image of attractive Belarus is broadcast to its neighbours, which completely breaks the negative stereotypes created in the West.
For many of our neighbours, especially pensioners and the poor, trips to Belarus have become a sustainable source of obtaining necessary goods and medicines. And although the Belarusian visa-free regime is to a certain extent associated with economic goals, its main benefit is public diplomacy.
The policy of openness distinguishes our country favourably from the EU, which limits the rights of Europeans to freedom of movement and acts to the detriment of its interests with only one goal — the artificial isolation of Belarus. But people see everything with their own eyes. And the Belarusian side has always expressed its readiness to resume constructive interaction. The Belarusian leader firmly adheres to the principle that neighbours are not chosen, they are from God, and has openly stated this more than once.

aleksandr gorbash

Since April 15th, 2022, according to presidential decree, visa-free entry into Belarus was established for citizens of Lithuania and Latvia (as well as persons with the status of non-citizen of Latvia), and from July 1st of the same year — for citizens of Poland. The openness and hospitality of Belarus was not affected by the pandemic, the difficult political situation, or the hostile attitude of the authorities of neighbouring countries, who began to openly prevent their citizens from leaving for Belarus.

Since the beginning of the visa-free regime, 796,346 foreigners have travelled to Belarus: 492,896 Lithuanian citizens, 183,836 citizens and 55,870 non-citizens of Latvia, 63,744 Polish citizens

Since January 1st, 411,360 foreigners from the European Union have used visa-free travel: 244,633 citizens of Lithuania, 95,702 citizens and 28,991 non-citizens of Latvia, 42,034 Polish citizens


How often can one enter Belarus without a visa?
One can use the right of visa-free entry into Belarus an unlimited number of times during the entire period of validity of this procedure. The number of days of stay in Belarus without a visa should not exceed 90 days in a calendar year.

Which territory of Belarus can be visited with visa-free entry?
Citizens of Lithuania, Latvia (as well as persons with the status of non-citizen of Latvia) and Poland have the right to visit and move throughout the country.

What documents are required to cross the border without a visa?
► valid document for traveling abroad,
► green card (if traveling by car),
► medical insurance.

How to visit Belarus without a visa?
Citizens of Lithuania and citizens (non-citizens) of Latvia can travel (enter and exit Belarus) through international checkpoints only on the Belarusian-Lithuanian or Belarusian-Latvian sections of the border. Citizens of Poland can enter and exit Belarus through any Belarusian international checkpoint on the border with the European Union.

aleksei stolyarov

Andrei Kozhan, Head of the Main Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus, 
“Since the beginning of this initiative, the total number of those who have visited our country using the visa-free regime is already approaching 800 thousand. This year alone we accepted approximately 405 thousand residents of neighbouring countries on a visa-free basis. Moreover, this is despite all the obstacles that exist at the border, taking into account the closed border crossings [on the part of Belarus’s western neighbours] and the artificial containment of queues. There was, is, and continues to be an interest. Somewhere in September of this year, we began to receive requests from citizens and diaspora associations with a request to extend the visa-free regime for another year. We did not leave such letters unnoticed and drew up our appeal on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Head of State with a request to extend this wonderful undertaking until 2024. Our initiative was supported.”

Latvian resident Janis Kuzins notes on TikTok, “We add chemicals and all sorts of soy to our products... Belarusian products are more respected because they contain real meat. Thanks to you, our opportunities are open.”

  The Lithuanian citizen visited Belarus many times without a visa and thanked Aleksandr Lukashenko for such a gift, “I respect your President very much. I am very grateful to him for making the visa-free regime possible.”

  “Are your stores and you ready? Poor Belarus!” another TikTok user sneers at the anti-Belarusian propaganda accepted in his homeland, demonstrating the abundance of goods in Belarusian retail outlets.

  A resident of the Latvian Daugavpils, having arrived in Minsk, posted an enthusiastic video on TikTok, “We went out for a walk — let’s go, walk, have fun, enjoy the beauty of Minsk... We go to the shops of Belarus — very cool. Good choice, there is everything.”

  “Shops in Belarus are better stocked with products than shops in Poland,” a Polish tourist who visited our country on a visa-free basis concludes.

By Ilya Kryzhevich