Firstly, you should be aware that technically there is no visa to enter South Ossetia. Here it is called an 'entry permit.' Although they may seem like the same thing, they are not and the authorities in South Ossetia are adamant about that too.
The entry permit for South Ossetia is not an easy one to get however. The process is filled with a lack of information and could be better described as a bureaucratic nightmare.
According to the law of South Ossetia it takes up to 30 days to obtain a permit, but in reality it can take up to 3 months.
In order to begin planning your tour, you will first have to look into obtaining a Russian Visa - if you need one.
Luckily, we will provide you with more information and help make this process go as smoothly as possible!
Why are we even talking about a Russian Visa?
It is no mistake. In order to enter South Ossetia, travellers must pass through the territory of the Russian Federation. The only other border is with Georgia and not able to be crossed.
If you are a citizen of Canada, the USA, the EU, Australia, New Zealand and other Western countries, you will firstly need a Russian Visa in order to start planning your trip to South Ossetia.
In addition, you will need what's called a 'multiple-entry' Russian Visa (see our article on obtaining a Russian Visa).
The reason for this is because in order to enter South Ossetia, you will have to exit Russia. Upon completion of your trip to South Ossetia, you will then have to re-enter Russia in order to catch your flight home.
As mentioned above, there is no Visa to South Ossetia, only a permission from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) that you are allowed to visit.
Permission is granted based on the itinerary you submit in your application and will only receive permission to stay in the country as long as your declared itinerary states.
Once permission is granted, you will be notified by the MFA, or by your tour company. The process is sometimes unusually long and can take more than a month or more.
There is no clearance letter like in Abkhazia, but border authorities will know you’re coming and will expect you at the border.
If you join a tour with Political Holidays, the border process will be dealt with, especially when travellers have decided to begin their tour in North Ossetia, Russia (on the other side of the border).
The last document obtained is just a migration card given at entry. They will also be looking that you have the required multiple-entry Russian Visa before granting permission to enter the country - so as not to get stuck in the country.
Application for Entry Permit
Tourists cannot apply for the entry permit themselves and will need the assistance of a local citizen or a tour company to begin the process of applying for an entrance permit.
If you wish to seek assistance before you enter South Ossetia, you can always visit the Vladikavkaz consulate of South Ossetia in Russia.
Updated: November, 2019