As of the 1st April 2017, Russian citizens no longer require a visitor’s visa to enter the Republic of South Africa and vice versa.
Although this news broke earlier this year, it was not made official until now. It is now official that the South African and Russian governments have officially introduced visa-free travel for their citizens as part of marking the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. This is purely in respect of the visitor’s visa and is not applicable intent to study, working or for living in each other’s country.
The Consul General of Russia in Cape Town, Roman Ambarov, said that there was a lot of work that needs to be done between the two countries in order to achieve this. Russia will be hosting the Fifa World Cup 2018, making it a lot easier for South Africans to plan a trip without the concerns of incurring visa costs as an added hassle. He also mentioned that it is their hope that this will help to motivate the increase of tourism for citizens of both countries, strengthening business and cultural ties between the two lands.
Spokesperson Mayihlome Tshewete said on behalf of Malusi Gigaba (then still the Minister of Home Affairs) that he too approved the proposed arrangement and believed that it would be a great opportunity to promote tourism, trade, business and exchange programmes. The Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Janine Myburgh agreed from the tourism point of view. However mentioned that trade opportunities are currently still limited.
This all seems to be happening hot on the heels of the controversial nuclear deal that is still waiting for approval. This will definitely make moving between the two countries an advantage if it does get the go ahead. It will be interesting to see how this will all play out in the end.