More visa-free traveling in the Baltic
The Russian Federation Council ratifies an agreement on local visa-free traveling with Latvia.
The local border traffic agreement will open up for visa-free traveling for locals living up to 50 km from the border line. The deal will come into force in June this year, Rossiiskaya Gazeta reports. That might make Latvia the first country to get a local visa-free zone with Russia. Latvia from before has a similar agreement with Belarus, which came info force in February 2012.
The visa-free permits will be issued free of charge to all local inhabitants, irrespectively of nationality, which have resided in the border municipalities more than three years.
As previously reported, Russia has from before signed an agreement on local border traffic with Norway. That agreement was signed already in 2010, but has not yet come into force.
Russia has also signed local border traffic agreements with Poland and Lithuania. These agreements are expected to come into force in July this year. The Russian-Polish agreement will be historical because it will include the whole Kaliningrad Oblast and similiarly big areas on the Polish side. Up to five million people will be entitled to get the facilitated traveling permits.
Read also: Historical visa deal
Because of the special relationship with Kaliningrad, Russia and Poland got the blessing from the EU Commission to apply special conditions in their local border traffic agreement. Otherwise, the Schengen Code allows for the establishment of the visa-free zones only in a 30 km, and in exceptional cases 50 km, range from the border.
In Belarus, national authorities have established a special website dedicated to the development of local visa-free traveling with neighboring Latvia.