1st Time – Minsk, Belarus

A new adventure in September…and the first time I have had to actually get a tourist visa for a place I am visiting … Belarus.

Since I don’t have photos yet, I thought I would outline the steps for getting a visa to Belarus. It’s not complicated but it is time consuming…

The outline below is mostly for people living in the USA but the same steps apply internationally with only a few modifications..

1. Passport 
A valid original passport  The passport must have at least two blank visa pages and be valid for at least 90 days after requested visa expiration date.
2. Invitation Letter
You will need an”invitation letter” ,of some kind, that outlines where you are staying and the dates you have reserved. Belorussian agencies are more than happy to do this for a fee, usually between 25-50 USD but you can do this on your own.  I made a reservation on booking.com and then e-mailed them and asked for a letter. They sent one by e-mail and it didn’t cost me anything and was perfectly acceptable to the Embassy. I also had an issue of accommodation pricing with the tour companies. They tended to be a lot higher than making my own reservation.
3. Application form (click to download)
The form must be completely filled out with no blank spaces must be left. If a question does not apply, type (or write) in “N/A”. If the answer is none, write “NONE”. Incomplete forms will be returned to the applicants UNPROCESSED.
4. Photograph
One photograph of the applicant should be attached (stapled or pasted) to the marked space at the upper right-hand corner of the application form.
The photograph must meet the following requirements:
  • taken within the last 6 months;
  • in color;
  • professionally printed in high quality on photo paper;
  • 45 mm high by 35 mm wide;
  • in sharp focus and clear;
  • taken on plain, light and evenly lit background;
  • taken in full-face view directly facing the camera;
  • with a neutral facial expression and both eyes open;
  • with no shadows, glare, noise or distortion on the image or background;
  • sized such that the face takes 70–80% of the photograph;
  • with no ink marks, tears or creases;
  • must not be retouched.
5. Insurance
You also have to show insurance that is valid in Belarus. You must have 10,000 USD in coverage and your insurance paperwork must be “International” or “World-Wide” and presented on company letterhead showing name of company, phone number, policy number and limits of coverage. I found that this was the most difficult document to acquire.
6. Envelope
If you are able to apply by mail, you should enclose a self-addressed and stamped return envelope showing yourself as both shipper and recipient. To prevent the envelope loss make sure that your envelope has a tracking number. (They don’t ship by Fed-Ex, by the way) If you live outside the USA, you actually have to apply in person at the Embassy or consulate.
7. Payment
A money order or a cashier’s check for visa processing payable to the Embassy of Belarus in the U.S. or Consulate General of Belarus in New York (depending on where you apply). They do not accept cash or personal checks. Outside the US, payment is made in cash, usually in the country of residences currency or Euros. In my case, it was Russian rubles…
Visa fees are calculated by the Tax Code of the Republic of Belarus. The visa fees are recalculated regularly based on the current exchange rate and can be changed without a notice. Make sure to check the check the schedule of the consular fees  before submitting a visa request.
Is a trip to Minsk and Belarus worth the effort?  I’ll let you know in a couple of weeks.. 🙂
Happy Travels!

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