Bering Strait Visa-Free Travel Program
Under the Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics Concerning Mutual Visits by Inhabitants of the Bering Straits Region, signed at Jackson Hole on September 23, 1989 and entered into force July 10, 1991 (“the Agreement”), which recognized that native inhabitants live on both sides of the U.S.-Russian border, qualifying U.S. inhabitants may travel to the designated areas in accordance with the procedures established by the Agreement, and without acquiring Russian visas, to visit relatives across the Bering Strait in designated areas of Chukotka, Russia.
Qualifying “U.S. inhabitants” are U.S. citizens who are permanent residents of the designated U.S. area, which is comprised of the Nome and Kobuk census areas of Alaska. The designated Russian area means the Iultinskiy Rayon, Providenskiy Rayon, and Chukostsky Rayon, as well as the eastern part of the Anadyrskiy Rayon, bounded on the south by the Anadyr River and on the west by the Tanyurer River, including the city of Anadyr (Chukostsky Autonomous Okrug).
“Relatives” are blood relatives, fellow clan or tribe members, or native inhabitants who share a linguistic or cultural heritage with native inhabitants of the other territory.
The U.S. and Russian Bering Strait Chief Commissioners perform duties in relation to the Agreement. The U.S. Chief Commissioner is Vera Metcalf, VMetcalf@kawerak.org, PO Box 948, Nome, AK 99762; telephone: 907-443-4380. Please, contact Commissioner Metcalf with questions about travel under the Agreement or to make an appointment in order to obtain an endorsement insert.
Upon invitation of Russian relatives, U.S. inhabitants may travel to the designated Russian area according to the following procedures:
1. The U.S. inhabitant desiring to visit relatives under the Agreement must notify the Russian Chief Commissioner, through the U.S. Chief Commissioner or through a Russian relative who has extended a written invitation to visit, at least ten days before the intended date of travel. The U.S. inhabitant must also provide his or her name and passport number, date and place of birth, name(s) and address(es) of the relatives who have extended an invitation to visit, the date of the intended visit, the method of travel, and the intended checkpoint of entry.
2. Before seeking to travel, the U.S. inhabitant intending to travel should make an appointment with the U.S. Chief Commissioner to validate his/her status and identity as a qualifying U.S. inhabitant from one of the approved census areas per the Agreement and to receive an endorsement insert in his/her passport. The applicant should bring one standard passport-size photo (2” x 2”) to the appointment.
3. The U.S. inhabitant should travel to the designated Russian area via one of the designated ports of entry with a valid U.S. passport and the Bering Strait Region endorsement insert with the U.S. Chief Commissioner’s signature and seal. Currently, there are procedures in place for the operation of checkpoints for travel under the Agreement at Anadyr and Provideniya; travelers are encouraged to use those two ports of entry for travel to the Russian territory under this agreement. Travelers may also wish to bring a copy of their invitation letter.
4. Individual visits to Russia are limited to 90 days.