The Russian visa process which confuses many tourists is made easy in their guide.
The majority of non ex-Soviet countries require that you apply for and obtain a visa prior to entering The Russian Federation. If you are unsure if you need a Russian visa, take a look at the following helpful website which gives a breakdown based on the country’s passport on which you will be travelling.
There’s a lot of misconception that the Russian visa process can be difficult to navigate. The requirements can be a bit bureaucratic, but I’ve broken down the Russian visa process in to the following easy to use guide which gives a step-by-step on how to obtain a Russian tourist visa.
1. Application for a Letter of Invitation
The letter of invitation is essentially a document stating that an official, licensed travel agency is inviting you to visit Russia. The paperwork lists your personal information, a long with the hotels and locations where you will be staying while in Russia. When filling out the letter of invitation, you do not need to know where you will be staying during your time in Russia. You can simply select from a listing of registered hotels/hostels given, and later stay wherever you wish. This is only some bureaucratic paperwork which needs completed prior to the actual visa application process. There is no way around this part of the application process, and it generally costs $30 with 24 hour processing for a single or double entry tourist visa.
Tip – If you wish to travel to Russia on the 1st of June, put this as your entry date. You can always enter later, but not earlier, of course. If you are applying months before, and list the current date, that is when your visa will then start once approved.
The final product will look like the below form, with all of your relevant information included:
2. Apply for health insurance through an approved provider
In most cases, the health insurance from your home country will not be approved to accompany your Russian visa. It may be the case that some insurances can be used, but often times it can be hard to find an approved list of providers. Therefore, it’s normally easier just to go through an already approved provider that will surely be approved and can be used during your visit to Russia.
Depending on the selected coverage and your country of residence, you will pay anywhere between $10-50 for a plan. For U.S. citizens, TravelGuard Travel Insurance or AXA Travel Insurance are recommended as it is easy to use and is sent to you in an electronic company after you sign-up and pay.
If asked during the registration process, be sure to list that you will be visiting Russia. Normally, the insurance company will provide an extra page or document stating that you are insured within Russia for the required amount of at least $30,000. Below you will find an example of that excerpt:
For additional countries, you can find more information here.
3. Fill out the visa application
Next, you will need to complete the actual visa form which can be found here.
The most important part to mention when filling out this form, is that all information should match what is in your letter of invitation. If something does not match, then you will not be granted the visa.
Ensure that your purpose of visit is listed as tourism.
4. Apply at a support center or consulate
In order to apply for the Russian visa, you will need to provide the following information:
- Letter of Invitation
- Visa Application
- Valid Passport (Validity of at least 6 months from expiration of visa date with two full free pages for the visa itself)
- 2x Passport Photos
For processing the actual visa, I’d recommend visiting the ILS visa center. They have locations all throughout the world, and are quick and professional. Fees vary based on how quickly you will need the visa, and location of application/pick-up – all information is listed on their website. You will be required to leave your passport while they process your request. If you made any glaring mistakes, they will review your application and normally pencil in anything minor that needs changed.
Tip – The cost for U.S. citizens for the tourist visa single-entry and 3 year multi-entry are the same. Always opt for the three year visa, and save the hassle of having to apply again for next time. If your passport expires sooner than 3 years, the visa will simply be good until the end of the validity of your passport.
5. Pickup your passport and Russian tourist visa
Once your visit is ready, you’ll receive an email to come pick it up in person. Be sure to review all information on the visa, to ensure its the correct type and matches all of your personal information.
6. Entry and staying in Russia
If you plan on staying in a particular city in Russia for more than 7 business days, you will need to be registered at the local post office. Normally, a hotel/apartment will do this for you for a small fee of $10-$20. If you’re staying long-term, this should be included in the cost of your rental. This is important, and you must always remember to register when staying for longer periods of time to avoid issues when exiting and re-entering the country.
That’s the general process for applying for a receiving a Russian visa. If you have any specific questions, feel free to leave them below in the comment section.
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