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This waiver program has ended as the World Cup has completed; congrats France!
Russia has announced a visa waiver for the 2018 World Cup. According to a statement on the website of the Russian embassy in Washington DC, if you hold a valid match ticket, fan ID, and passport you will be able to enter the Russian Federation without a visa. The program is not restricted to citizens of the 32 participating countries, and the holder of a match ticket from any country can use the visa waiver program.
The World Cup will take place between June 14 and July 15, 2018, and games will be played in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Ekaterinburg, Kaliningrad, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Samara, Saransk, and Volgograd.
How To Use The Visa Waiver Program
First, you need to find a ticket from the fixture list. While it may be tempting to try and pick up one of the big name first round fixtures like Spain vs. Portugal (June 15) or England vs. Belgium (June 28), they will probably be sold out and if tickets are still available they will be quite expensive. You are better off purchasing tickets for a less high-profile game, like Morocco vs. Iran (June 15) or Australia vs. Peru (June 26). Tickets are still available for select matches with prices starting at $165, and they can be purchased from FIFA.com
One you have your match ticket, you will need to apply for an official fan ID, which you will need to gain entry to the stadium along with your match ticket, as well as to benefit from the visa waiver. The ID also grants free use of public transport during the World Cup. You need to register for the fan ID, and you can pick it up from official distribution centers, or have it mailed to your home.
According to the Russian Embassy statement, all you will need to enter Russia visa-free is a current passport and your fan ID.
Russian visas are normally expensive, restrictive and a downright pain to acquire. Visiting Russia as a World Cup fan may not reduce the cost since you still have to buy a match ticket, but it will simplify all the other aspects of getting a Russian visa. So, if Russia was always on you travel bucket list now may be the time to make that trip happen.
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