Just cos you’re in Europe doesn’t mean backpacking is always easy. I’ve been fighting for visas across the world for years, and getting a visa for Belarus is no different. You can get your Belarus visa in Estonia though, here’s how:
1) Things you need:
1 passport photo
1 filled in application form (available at the embassy)
– A name, address and phone number of a friend in Belarus*
– A letter of invitation (you get this online for various companies, costs around $100)*
– Hotel bookings for 10 days in Belarus, complete with printed out confirmation#
*If you have a friend in Belarus OR you have the letter of invitation, you’re entitled to a tourist visa of 30 days.
#If you have the hotel bookings, you’re entitled to a 10 day tourist visa BUT you don’t have the hassle of having to get the invitation
Where is the Belarus Embassy in Tallinn, Estonia:
It’s south of the city, about a 30 minute walk from the old town or you can take a tram, or bus number 5. Here’s the map:
How much does a Belarus visa cost?
Quite a lot, mine cots 175 Euros ($225) but that’s because, despite being Irish, I use a british passport. Both British and US passport holders pay more. Normally the cost is 120 Euro ($155) for other nationalites.
Those prices are for express visas, available that day or the next day. If you can wait a week for your visa, you pay about 50 Euro less.
To pay for the visa, you apply at the embassy, they give you a bill, you then walk about 15 minutes to the nearest Swedbank and give them the bill, and pay them in cash, in Euros. There are ATMs outside the bank.
I turned up at the embassy at 9.30 am with just a passport photo and passport with no idea about what to expect. I tried to apply but the lady told me I needed a letter of invitation. I know how long that can take, and how expensive it can be, with my past experiences in Sudan and Russia so it wasn’t something I wanted to try to organize again.
I asked if there was another way, she told me if I had friends in the country they could vouch for me, but I didn’t so that wasn’t much help. She also said if I book hotels for 10 days I bypass the invitation protocol but will only get a 10 day visa .
That was the option for me! I didn’t want to go and find a cheap hotel or hostel, book it, print it out, come back the next day and waste a day SOOO I used my iphone, walked around some flats outside until I found wifi and booked a place on hostelworld, then went to a random office and begged them to print it out for me.
The look of a desperate, backpacking Irishman must have worked, they printed it out, I brought it back to the embassy before 1pm and still lodged my application that day. I went to the bank to pay my extortionate 175 Euro and came back the same day at 3pm with my visa prepared and ready. Bham. Job done!
I know you guys might think im crazy for spending so much for a short visa to a country most people couldn’t put on a map, but that’s half the reason. With the headache and expense of the visa, I’m hoping I’m almost gonna have the country to myself! It’s gonna be ‘real’ traveling again, and I can’t wait. Happy travels!