Transit visa needed on Warsaw-Moscow train

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As part of a journey through east Central Europe in July ’03, a friend and I boarded a train in Warsaw headed for Moscow, about a 25-hour rail trip. Part of the route entailed traveling through the country of Belarus, thus a stop was made at Terespol, the border town between Belarus and Poland. Here, as part of routine passport inspections, guards boarded the train.

When one made it to our compartment, I handed him my passport and waited while he browsed the pages. I had been informed to acquire a Russian visa beforehand so thought everything was squared away for the trip. Turns out this was not the case, and my Polish traveling companion and I were quickly escorted off the train and into the border patrol station.

It was at the station that the guards explained (in Russian) that American citizens currently needed not only a Russian visa to get to Moscow but also a “transit visa” to travel through Belarus, even if the individual was not staying in the country. Polish citizens didn’t need one, but my friend also disembarked the train so as not to leave me. We then were put on a train back to Warsaw.

Luckily, the incident did not end our journey as we had a contact living in Warsaw and, once we got back, we were able spend the night there and the next day obtain the needed $105 visa from the Belarus Consulate. We were not alone in our efforts, as a group of German doctors had found themselves in the same predicament, patiently waiting at the office as well.

After obtaining the visa, we set off for Moscow again the next day and this time made it to our destination with no problems. The failed border crossing quickly faded into memory as the train pulled into the station and we grabbed our gear and quickly set off to explore the extraordinary city. The mishap took out two days of our time in Moscow, but we decided this also gave us a perfect excuse to visit the area again.

For updated information on visas needed for rail travel in Russia and Belarus, check out the website www.russianembassy.org or www.belarusembassy.org.

ZOIE CLIFT
North Little Rock, AR

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

As part of a journey through east Central Europe in July ’03, a friend and I boarded a train in Warsaw headed for Moscow, about a 25-hour rail trip. Part of the route entailed traveling through the country of Belarus, thus a stop was made at Terespol, the border town between Belarus and Poland. Here, as part of routine passport inspections, guards boarded the train.

When one made it to our compartment, I handed him my passport and waited while he browsed the pages. I had been informed to acquire a Russian visa beforehand so thought everything was squared away for the trip. Turns out this was not the case, and my Polish traveling companion and I were quickly escorted off the train and into the border patrol station.

It was at the station that the guards explained (in Russian) that American citizens currently needed not only a Russian visa to get to Moscow but also a “transit visa” to travel through Belarus, even if the individual was not staying in the country. Polish citizens didn’t need one, but my friend also disembarked the train so as not to leave me. We then were put on a train back to Warsaw.

Luckily, the incident did not end our journey as we had a contact living in Warsaw and, once we got back, we were able spend the night there and the next day obtain the needed $105 visa from the Belarus Consulate. We were not alone in our efforts, as a group of German doctors had found themselves in the same predicament, patiently waiting at the office as well.

After obtaining the visa, we set off for Moscow again the next day and this time made it to our destination with no problems. The failed border crossing quickly faded into memory as the train pulled into the station and we grabbed our gear and quickly set off to explore the extraordinary city. The mishap took out two days of our time in Moscow, but we decided this also gave us a perfect excuse to visit the area again.

For updated information on visas needed for rail travel in Russia and Belarus, check out the website www.russianembassy.org or www.belarusembassy.org.

ZOIE CLIFT
North Little Rock, AR