Visa: How to stay at a hostel in Belarus?
Replies: 16 - Last Post: May 9, 2013 8:39 AM Last Post By: loisachthaler
Dec 17, 2012 4:20 AM
Visa: How to stay at a hostel in Belarus?Hi everybody,
I'm thinking of going to Belarus for about a week in spring, mainly visiting Minsk and Brest and their surroundings. On the usual hostel websites there are a couple of hostels listed in Minsk which seem nice and a good way to meet other travellers.
After searching this forum and other websites, however, it seems that in order to obtain a Belarus visa, one needs to make a hotel booking for the entire duration of the stay. I'd rather stay at a hostel though where I can meet other travellers as opposed to sitting alone in a hotel room. The hostels listed on hostelworld etc. however don't mention anything about registration or visa support.
Hence my question: What does one have to do in order to be able to stay at one of these hostels in Belarus? Also, are there any hostels in Brest?
edit: I hold a German passport.
Dec 17, 2012 5:01 AM
1No hostels in Brest. Hostels in Minsk that I can think of offhand are Hostel Jazz and Hostel Viva - you may contact them directly via their websites or Facebook pages and relay these questions about visa support. (In theory a prepaid booking confirmation signed by the hotel manager is a reason for the consulate to issue you a 10-day visa). I believe they do provide registration since they are officially in the hospitality industry here.
Dec 17, 2012 6:00 AM
2About a year or so ago there was something in the news about the President of Belarus holding talks about a tit for tat scrapping of visas for Belarus (EU member state passport holders) if the EU scrapped the visa requirements the same way for Belarus citizens. Has it come any further forward?
Dec 17, 2012 7:24 AM
3Of course not. There are a lot of improvements to be made to this system (in general) according to the EU and the system doesn't look willing to become any flexible. You can hear our beloved president talking about any issue that has to be dramatically changed yesterday and not a thing changes over decades. But we love it that way - it's kinda predictable.
Simplified visa procedures for EU citizens have been discussed about 7 or so times since 2007. Now they've made an ex-fireman a Sports and Tourism Minister so he'll probably focus on sport only - since it is sport that lost the rank to his predecessor.
Dec 17, 2012 1:57 PM
4Andrei -- thanks for the info. I'll contact them directly. Since I'll stay a night or two in Brest as well, do I need invitations / booking confirmations from a hotel in Brest as well or can I apply for a six-day visa using a booking confirmation for just three nights in Minsk?
Dec 17, 2012 7:40 PM
Jan 25, 2013 1:30 PM
6I was recently in Belarus and got my visa support letter from Prime Tours Ltd, Minsk. As you are aware, there was a requirement to have pre booked accommodation in order to get the support letter, they were unable to have to book any hostels in Minsk as part of this, so I booked a night at the Hotel Yubileynaya with them - US $88.
Before submitting my visa application I got a confirmation email of a reservation (not booking) with the Hostel Postoyalets. I did this as I was unsure at the time exactly of my route in Belarus and how long I wanted to stay in Minsk.
I contacted all of the main travel agencies in Minsk - none were able to book a night in a hostel then issue a support letter. I suspect this was probably due to the fact they wouldn't get a commission. Either way, it seemed the best way to go about it is to book a night at a hotel with the agency then set yourself up in a hostel for the rest of your stay.
Jan 25, 2013 1:52 PM
Jan 29, 2013 6:37 AM
8Well inbound travel agents are disinterested in hostel bookings because the latter do not commission them)
It is also funny that a couple of Britons have just managed to get their visas at a zero fee using an invitation letter of the cycling champ committee (minsk2013.by) - these guys are visiting the championship held in Minsk in February as fans only.
Feb 24, 2013 6:18 AM
I'm heading to Minsk from Vilnius in a few hours... I got my visa (in two days) in Riga, without much hassle...
All I had to do was to show up with proof of my booking for the period I was applying for.. Which was the receipt email I've got from bookings.com... Ergo, I have only the booking, not the paid reservation.. And that is for a hostel in Minsk, not a hotel...
And then I had to buy a special Belarus medical insurance from a company across the street from the embassy (which was only six USD for the week)...
It might be a mistake from the embassy, since the booking receipt shows the price and my credit card details (in case of a no-show on my behalf)... But none the less did I get my visa without extra expenses (such as a LOI)...
My plan is to stay in Minsk most of the time, to a few days trips (incl. Brest), but inform my hostel that I'm leaving earlier than planned... Then spend a night or two in Vitsebsk before heading to Moscow...
Feb 24, 2013 6:18 AM
Mar 1, 2013 10:29 PM
Just an update after I've out of Belarus...
As I said above I got my visa with nothing more than the hostel booking (I used a place called Hostel Traveler on Starovilenskaya 12 (they have two on different locations) which was by far the most central one I could find...
I didn't have any problem with only paying for five nights when I got there, though I'd booked for six... It wasn't a problem either to book a place in Vitsebsk and stay there for the last night either...
Note if you are going to spent MORE that five working days in Belarus you need to go register your visa.. The hostel won't do this for you..
If your changing places even though you're booking is just for one city, you need to register in the city of your booking...
If your visa is for five OR less working days, don't worry about the registration as it is not needed...
May 5, 2013 4:17 AM
Can you advise how you booked your accomodation in Vitebsk? Did you ask a travel agency to do it for you?
I'm going to be going through all the Belarussian border fun in less than 2 months time. I have my visa in hand... but I wasn't aware I would still have to purchase medical insurance at the border?
Anyway, I'll be spending nights in several cities outside of Minsk. Of course, hostels would be nice but alas impossible outside of Minsk.
May 5, 2013 6:48 AM
The border? Where are you applying for the visa?
Most embassy's will direct you to a place/travel agency where you must buy the insurance before applying for the visa..
If your can't apply in person it might be a good idea to call the embassy...
I stayed at Hostel X.O. for around 15US per night...
May 5, 2013 7:22 AM
this might differ from embassy to embassy, but in Berlin they didn't want to see any proof of medical insurance and issued me a visa without it.
They told me though that I will need medical insurance once I enter the country (at the very least for registration) which I can buy at the border. They further told me that they probably won't accept any foreign medical insurance unless I can provide an insurance policy statement in Russian that explicitly states that it is valid in Belarus.
Since the insurance at the border is just € 0.50 per day I decided not to go trough the hassle of obtaining such a statement from my regular travel insurance and just bought one at the border, which turned out to be quite straightforward (I entered the country by train at Brest). The insurance agent entered the train together with the border police and just sold insurance to everybody who needed it (which was only me, at least in my coach).
(4 star Hotel)
From US$273.69 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$39.02 per night
(0 star Hotel)
From US$9.97 per night