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Do you need at transit visa for SVO if you are flying onwards to ALA? US Citizen.

Do you need at transit visa for SVO if you are flying onwards to ALA? US Citizen.

Old Jan 9, 16, 3:44 pm
  #1  
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Do you need at transit visa for SVO if you are flying onwards to ALA? US Citizen.

The Russian Federation DC website says transit travelers that are flying to ALA need a transit visa. I called a couple of visa agencies that my work provides and the all say otherwise. I checked Timatic and it say something different as well.

What is the verdict on this?
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Old Jan 10, 16, 1:47 am
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I'd say no visa needed. SU flights depart from terminal F, KC's from terminal E - both of these are for international flights only.
If you travel with checked luggage on SU - make sure your departure airport qualifies for tagging your bags to your final destination. Most of US/EU airports do qualify. It's not required for int'l-to-int'l connections, but Kazakhstan is probably regarded as domestic for customs puproses.
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Old Jan 10, 16, 7:31 am
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Originally Posted by greycap7 View Post
The Russian Federation DC website says transit travelers that are flying to ALA need a transit visa. I called a couple of visa agencies that my work provides and the all say otherwise. I checked Timatic and it say something different as well.

What is the verdict on this?
The Russian Federation DC Web site couldn't make it any clearer:

"Passengers travelling to the Republic of Belarus or the Republic of Kazakhstan via the Russian Federation must obtain Russian Transit Visas."


My verdict would go with Russian Federation website
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Old Jan 10, 16, 1:27 pm
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Yes and I have heard of people being denied boarding without a transit visa. The common customs and immigration zone means arrival in Moscow is where you will clear immigration for all 3 countries. If you fly back via Moscow you will need a double entry transit visa and have the novelty of visiting Kazakhstan without actually clearing immigration there. Think of it as Schenhen with visas and hassles.

N.B if you need a visa for Kakhstan you should still get one as it will be needed for internal hotel/travel purposes.
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Old Jan 10, 16, 1:41 pm
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Originally Posted by Swanhunter View Post
Yes and I have heard of people being denied boarding without a transit visa. The common customs and immigration zone means arrival in Moscow is where you will clear immigration for all 3 countries. If you fly back via Moscow you will need a double entry transit visa and have the novelty of visiting Kazakhstan without actually clearing immigration there. Think of it as Schenhen with visas and hassles.

N.B if you need a visa for Kakhstan you should still get one as it will be needed for internal hotel/travel purposes.
I'm going for the weekend so I'm wondering if it is worth all the hassle of getting a visa anyways. Kazakhstan has been on my bucket list for a while. But it seems like I should only bother with this if I am get going for a longer period of time or make my routing visa something other than Moscow.
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Old Jan 13, 16, 4:10 pm
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Originally Posted by Swanhunter View Post
Yes and I have heard of people being denied boarding without a transit visa. The common customs and immigration zone means arrival in Moscow is where you will clear immigration for all 3 countries.
Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan are not a common immigration zone. Belarus and Russia indeed do not have customs and immigration control on their common border, but it is still not like Schengen because separate visas are required for these 2 countries. Russia and Kazakhstan are even further from Schengen because they do have immigration control, and the OP will not clear Kazakh immigration in Moscow.
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Old Jan 13, 16, 5:12 pm
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Officially, I see no reason why you should have to have one (regardless of what the website says, kaz and rus don't have open border policies). However, I've heard from a few americans that they were forced to pay for a visa at the airport. I think it depends on what terminal the flight leaves from, but that's just a theory. Side note, you will have to clear immigration in Kazakhstan coming from Russia, however you won't be subject to customs checks.

Both my parents and my brother flew IAD-SVO-TSE last summer on 2 different occasions with american passports (no rus visa) and didn't have any problems whatsoever, but they speak fluent Russian and are originally from Kazakhstan, so that could've made a difference.

Final advice, check which terminal the ALA flights leaves from, if it's from an international terminal, you should be fine. Almaty is a really nice place so definitely worth a visit plus the tenge is really weak atm, a weekend might be a but short though.
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Old Jan 13, 16, 5:17 pm
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Originally Posted by Swanhunter View Post
Yes and I have heard of people being denied boarding without a transit visa. The common customs and immigration zone means arrival in Moscow is where you will clear immigration for all 3 countries. If you fly back via Moscow you will need a double entry transit visa and have the novelty of visiting Kazakhstan without actually clearing immigration there. Think of it as Schenhen with visas and hassles.

N.B if you need a visa for Kakhstan you should still get one as it will be needed for internal hotel/travel purposes.
Post above already said this, but this info is false. Belarus, Kazakshtan and Russia don't have an open border policy like the Schengen, it's just a customs union atm no immigration. You don't need a visa to visit Kaz, you do need a visa if visiting Russia, idk about Belarus. There is no unified visa for all three countries.
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Old Jan 13, 16, 11:05 pm
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Originally Posted by bnurkhai View Post
Officially, I see no reason why you should have to have one (regardless of what the website says, kaz and rus don't have open border policies). However, I've heard from a few americans that they were forced to pay for a visa at the airport. I think it depends on what terminal the flight leaves from, but that's just a theory. Side note, you will have to clear immigration in Kazakhstan coming from Russia, however you won't be subject to customs checks.
I think the transit visa requirement has to do with the fact that Russia and Kazakhstan are a customs union. Kazakhstan does not perform customs checks on flights from Russia, but citizens of other countries would still have to be subjected to customs checks somewhere. My assumption is that the customs checks would be performed in the first country of the customs union, which in case would be Russia. Hence, the requirement to have a transit visa in order to clear Russian immigration and more importantly customs inspection.
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Old Jan 14, 16, 10:42 pm
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Originally Posted by König View Post
I think the transit visa requirement has to do with the fact that Russia and Kazakhstan are a customs union. Kazakhstan does not perform customs checks on flights from Russia, but citizens of other countries would still have to be subjected to customs checks somewhere. My assumption is that the customs checks would be performed in the first country of the customs union, which in case would be Russia. Hence, the requirement to have a transit visa in order to clear Russian immigration and more importantly customs inspection.
Right, but as I said before, my parents and brother flew through Moscow with American passports (no visa) to TSE and didn't run into any problems. Depending on what terminal you fly in/out of you may not even have to deal with Russian immigration/customs (of my three international transfers in SVO, my passport got checked only once). The whole system isn't well set up (what a surprise), if all Rus-Kaz flights departed out of the domestic terminal, then that would make sense, but as far as I know that is not the case (I actually don't think any kaz flights are out of domestic). So a IAD-SVO-ALA passenger goes through the same process as IAD-SVO-BUD passenger, unless there is a passport check for every international transfer (has happend once to me), then immigration officials have no way of finding out. Therein lies the problem with only having a customs union, but not a unified immigration policy.

That being said op, I would err on the side of caution and get the visa or fly through another country.

Last edited by bnurkhai; Jan 14, 16 at 10:48 pm
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Old Jan 19, 16, 12:32 pm
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Originally Posted by bnurkhai View Post
Post above already said this, but this info is false. Belarus, Kazakshtan and Russia don't have an open border policy like the Schengen, it's just a customs union atm no immigration. You don't need a visa to visit Kaz, you do need a visa if visiting Russia, idk about Belarus. There is no unified visa for all three countries.
Good point about Kazakhstan, however Russia and Belarus are a common immigration zone in that there are no controls at the border. You do need the relevant visa for hotel check in, registration etc. When I travelled the Trans-Sib I was stamped into Belarus at Brest and only received a Russian exit stamp at Nauskhki.
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Old Jan 21, 16, 9:16 pm
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Originally Posted by Swanhunter View Post
Good point about Kazakhstan, however Russia and Belarus are a common immigration zone in that there are no controls at the border. You do need the relevant visa for hotel check in, registration etc. When I travelled the Trans-Sib I was stamped into Belarus at Brest and only received a Russian exit stamp at Nauskhki.
There are indeed no immigration and custom checks at the border, but I would stop short of saying that they have a common immigration zone. Each of them has its own immigration laws and regulation, and they both require their own visas from most foreigners. So, if someone were to enter Belarus and exit Russia, he/she would require Belorussian and Russian visas in the passport. In practice, a person with just one visa--either Russian or Belorussian--can travel within both countries, but it is still illegal and if caught, he/she would face fines and deportation.
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Old Jan 22, 16, 12:26 am
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Originally Posted by bnurkhai View Post
Right, but as I said before, my parents and brother flew through Moscow with American passports (no visa) to TSE and didn't run into any problems. Depending on what terminal you fly in/out of you may not even have to deal with Russian immigration/customs (of my three international transfers in SVO, my passport got checked only once). The whole system isn't well set up (what a surprise), if all Rus-Kaz flights departed out of the domestic terminal, then that would make sense, but as far as I know that is not the case (I actually don't think any kaz flights are out of domestic). So a IAD-SVO-ALA passenger goes through the same process as IAD-SVO-BUD passenger, unless there is a passport check for every international transfer (has happend once to me), then immigration officials have no way of finding out. Therein lies the problem with only having a customs union, but not a unified immigration policy.

That being said op, I would err on the side of caution and get the visa or fly through another country.
Thanks for the information. Just to err on the side of caution. What are the current Russian transit visa processing times?

Thanks
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Old Jan 26, 16, 9:41 pm
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Originally Posted by bnurkhai View Post
Post above already said this, but this info is false. Belarus, Kazakshtan and Russia don't have an open border policy like the Schengen, it's just a customs union atm no immigration. You don't need a visa to visit Kaz, you do need a visa if visiting Russia, idk about Belarus. There is no unified visa for all three countries.
When I used to fly between St. Petersburg and Minsk, Belarus, a year ago, no one in Minsk looked at my passport. It was like a domestic flight.

You are supposed to have visas for both Russia and Kazakhstan when you travel through these countries, but your passport and visa will be examined in depth only once, when you enter the first of the two countries.
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