Are Belarusians required to ask for permission each time they want to leave their country?
Published: 04 April 2011
Belarus is one of the few countries of the former Soviet Union that does not require a special passport for foreign travel. In the past, the Belarusian authorities would issue a special stamp to validate a passport for foreign travel for a five-year period. Today, the stamp is no longer in use, and the national passport is automatically valid for foreign travel. It is never an issue for people to leave the country or to come back, with a few notable exceptions of pressure on prominent opposition leaders.
The biggest obstacle Belarusians face when they decide to travel abroad is getting a foreign visa, especially to the United States or the European Union. Since Belarus’ European neighbours – Latvia, Lithuania and Poland – joined the Schengen area, to spend a weekend outside Belarus’ western borders a Belarusian citizen needs to prove that he/she has a job, money and a reason to travel. This involves providing many translated and notarized documents, and Belarusians can never be sure whether they will be issued visas even if their documents are in order.