From that date people living in the border municipalities of Sør-Varanger in Norway and Zapolyarny, Kozunovo and parts of Nikel and Pechenga in Russia can apply for a border certificate from the Russian Consulate General in Kirkenes and the Norwegian Consulate General in Murmansk.
Notes on commencement of the agreement were exchanged by Norwegian and Russian officials in the end of March, the Norwegian Governments web site reads.
The agreement will give residents living within a 30 kilometer zone from both sides of the border opportunity to visit the other country’s border area without a visa. The agreement, that was signed in November 2010, will affect around 9000 people in Norway and some 45 000 in Russia. Holders of the border certificate can stay in the other country’s border territory for up to 15 days in a row. If you want to travel outside the 30 kilometer zone, you will still need to get a visa.
Traffic across the Norwegian-Russian border has been increasing steadily for the last years, and the introduction of visa-free travel is expected to give the development an even further push.
56 053 persons crossed the border in course of the first three months of 2012. In the same period in 2011 the number was 39 738, according to numbers from the Storskog border crossing point.
In the month of March the number of border-crossers exceeded 20 000 for the second time in history. The highest number of crossings in one month was seen in December 2011, when 22 713 persons crossed the border, primarily to do their Christmas shopping in the neighboring country.
The number of cars crossing the border is also continuing to rise. 19 266 cars crossed the border in January-March 2012, nearly 6500 more than in the same period a year before.