Need Visa to Russia? Read this!

Foreign travelers whom are thinking of traveling to the Russian Federation for work or travel can do it with ease following these steps. It can be simple to obtain but know this, you must have the correct information on the required paperwork. This particular will illustrate how to do this.

Here is a list of topics we will try to answer in this article:

  1. Who needs a Russian Visa?
  2. What are the types of Russian Visas?
  3. What documents do i need for Russian Visa?
  4. How to apply for Russian Visa?
  5. The process of Russian Visa registration

Do i need a Russian Visa?

Certain countries have created special relationships or so called visa-free regime with Russia. Please check the full list of visa-free countries before you continue reading this article.

The Types of Russian Visas to Obtain

What’s the correct way to travel to Russia without breaking any rules or policies with Russia travel officials? You don’t want to jeopardize any future business relationships with the Russian Federation now would you? First, you should be honest as to why you are going to Russia. This can prevent any questioning and delays with the officials. Although there are some special exceptions, it’s recommended that you check first to those special exceptions with the visa support department at your nearest consular office.

In fact, the date and the reason you will be visiting are the two main things to consider when obtaining the correct type of visa, so if you need to pick up in person a piece of artwork you inherited, for example, in Moscow, then there can be an exception because you are basically being invited to go pick up the artwork that was given to you by a deceased member of your family. It can be considered a special invitation from Russian authorities thereby allowing you to go on a special type of visa to enter Russia. You never know until you ask, therefore consider the possibilities.

Here are the 6 types of visas which can be obtained in order to visit the Federation of Russia.

  1. Tourist Visa – This visa is obtained quicker, cheaper, and its processing speed is much more flexible as well. They’re more convenient to obtain. Plan on staying in Russia for at least one month? Then, this one is meant for you and especially if you need a single entry. For more information check our tourist visa invitation comparison engine or get a tourist visa invitation online.
  2. Business visa – For a business visa, you may need multiple-entry visas for work. This particular one is perfect for those who need to do business yet depending on how long can be a reason why you may need to go more than once to renew your visa too. If you have to stay there for more than a year, multiple entries are required, therefore, plan on getting the correct documents for it. For those who plan on staying a year, obtaining 1 for ever 90 days is the best bet. That’s one per 180 days that you should plan on getting this type of visa. Using your Russian visa is only valid from 1 – 12 months and this is for single, double, or multiple entries. Remember that Russia only will give a visa to those who have a permit of residence in the country in which the consulate is located. (The way around this is to go every 3 months and obtaining the 3-months business visa.)
  3. Student Visa – Student visas will only be issued for those who applied to a university, school or institution. Therefore you need a visa because you will be studying there. You’ll need the other required documents (i.e. photo ID, passport,…) to begin. Submit the information to the school you will be going to so as to request support to get your visa under the student visa. From the school’s “foreign department,” they’ll be able to smooth out all the “formalities” for you. They’ll actually do the work for you. They will send the immigration officials your “student invitation” which will be ready is normally ready for you within a week to a week and a half days. When you get the invitation by mail or fax, you’ll be well on your way. There will be a fee when applying for the student visa which can be about $50-$150 including the processing time. [alert type=”notice” close=”1″]It should be noted that because of change in Russian law in October 2007, many found out they couldn’t stay longer 3 months, within a 6 month period in Russia. Therefore, in such incidents, a student visa might help. But, do note, it is illegal to utilize the visa system this way. Usually, the student visa doesn’t have a limited validity, it is extended all the time, depending on how long you study.[/alert]
  1. Personal Russian Visa – If you plan on visiting old pals or your uncle, this is the visa you need. It is valid for at least 90 days or 3 months. For a foreigner who needs to see relative and friends, in other words, you should note that you are needing a personal visa. This is actually considered the “worst” one to get according to many travelers because it’s a single entry only visa. You’ll need a personal invitation certificate (aka visa entitlement certificate or “izveshchenie” in Russian. The local OVIR office or the immigration office can help with this certificate, so have your relatives or friends go there to fill out the invitation so you can “visit them.” Expect a fee and wait time of 45 days! The $30 US processing fee and they’ll have to do a background check on both you and your relatives when you are applying for a personal visa. This type of visa is given to the foreigners who come to Russia for a personal visit (friends, relatives etc.). It can be valid for up to 3 months and is single entry only. This is the worst kind of visa you can apply for. The reason for all the fuss is because you are obtaining a “personal visa.” Terrorism and spying are two main reasons for the implementation of a wait time this long. Then, your friend or relative will get an invitation after being contacted by the immigration offices or officials in order to confirm approval or denial. In fact, it will be sent by post because officials from the consulator’s office only accept originals. Therefore there is not going to be any faxing, emailing or any other form of communication for it other than post and it will take about 2 weeks. When you go to the consulate, take it all with you in order to apply for a private or personal visa.
  1. Work Visa – Another visa obtainable to enter Russia is getting a working visa or a work visa. If you are working for a contractor, for example, then they can help you with the documentation to put with your other required docs. Some employers, in fact, have a quota for such things, like hiring a foreign workforce. So, it is a win-win situation and it’s less than a business visa. It can take up to a week. For a rushed processing fee, you can get it in 2 days!
  2. Transit visa to Russia – If you are crossing or just passing through, you can get the transit visa to Russia. It’s only for 72 hours and you don’t have to pay as much either since it’s only a short time. Depending on the country, it’s only for crossing and changing airports. In fact, your homeland’s Russian consulate can explain the most information to you regarding the transit visa to Russia.

Common documents that are required for this type of visa are the following:

  1. The passport is a valid travel document.
  2. Onward train and airline tickets which will be enough proof that you’re crossing Russia and only within the 72-hour allotment.
  3. A completed visa application form filled out.
  4. The visa to the country you’ll be going to from the Federation of Russia if you are required to have one in that country.
  5. A photo passport.

Russian Visa document preparation

Check your passport

The dates you plan on visiting Russia will be important dates to remember at this point since this is when your consular department support will be recorded in the visa records and the visa itself. Therefore, the passport must be valid on those dates as well, so check it more than once to ensure that dates are correct dates that you plan on staying in the Russian Federation. In fact, the passport needs to be valid for a minimum of 6 months “after” planning on your departing dates from the Russian Federation.  In addition, ensure you have empty pages inside your passport book since there is a requirement on how many “clear pages” there are as well. It varies according to (you guessed it) the various consular departments; normally, two clear pages is good enough, but check with them — just in case.

Find your nearest Russian consular department or visa center

The next step is to find the nearest Russian consular department or visa center which will accept. If you are unsure where that is, check The easy way to get to your nearest consular department or Visa Center is through the Russian Consular Locator. Go to http://www.russianembassy.net/ to track down the one near your city. In fact, there are some nationalities whom may have to do the application at their “official resident” country such as the United Kingdom citizens. Check the time process also since there are policies on applications which also includes “tariffs” per consular department world wide.

Book accommodation

It seems the rules apply here too because booking an accommodation when applying for a Russian Travel Visa is required. This is the true sense of the law in Russia. Officials want to know where you are at in Russia, plus it’s for your safety too. You must book an accommodation for each day/night while visiting. This is not only your guarantee you will have a place to stay while you are there, but it feels secured and it’s proof of documentation when you fill in your application as well. It makes it even more secure and easier for the processing stage. Whether it’s a resort, a hotel, your school, an apartment, a hotel, or even a long lost relative you haven’t seen in decades works. In other words, it’s proof that you have a place to stay while in the Russian Federation, period. (This excludes train rides and the dates you will be on it.)

There’s some exception. What if you are just passing through and will not be staying every night in Russia?  What do you do then? Contact the Visa Center near you or the Consular Department near you, for questions regarding this scenario. The visa support experts can help you.

Get visa support documents

Without your visa support documents, you will have trouble at the entrance phase because this help “back up” what you are telling the consular officials which include Russian officials! To avoid wasted time and energy, as well as money, ensure you have your “proof” in forms of ‘visa support’ documents. It’s that simple. “NO proof, no entry to Russia,” is plain simple to understand.

For example, when you have booked at the place you will be staying, whether it’s a Russian hostel or a Grand Russian Resort styled hotel suite, obtaining the correct official documents such as a Tourist Voucher or a Tourist Confirmation, which is required for applying for a Tourist Visa,  the voucher or the confirmation are relevant enough for that requested support.

In fact, your hostel or hotel can provide this since you will be accommodated in Russia by them. They should be free of charge, at some places of accommodation, but expect to pay a small service charge. Additionally, if you don’t know yet where you will be accommodated yet, you can “buy” those visa support documents online. These Russian companies can give you these documents via email, fax, or courier services. Find out too, if it’s okay to have a copy of these documents that you will be presenting to the consular department such as the email copy an fax copy.  Some can be very strict and may want only originals, but, normally they’re super helpful if you ask prior to visiting the consular department. Comparably, in Asia, originals need to be stamped and signed docs when presenting which means no copies.

Health insurance – To go to Russian, one must have health insurance. It’s imperative to have health insurance on the exact dates you plan on being in Russia. For example, if you plan on going to Russia September 1st through October 21, 2017, make sure you are covered with health insurance (and have proof of it) on those given dates. The Russian consular departments will want to see that it’s valid in Russia; in other words, under Russian Federation, it should be valid, so ask your health insurance agent to check in on this for your “peace of mind”. At the consular department near you, filling out an insurance card is common while also notating the validity and the account number of your policy is common at the majority of consular departments world wide.

Need a photo taken – Along with your visa application, you must add a recent, passport-sized,  colored photo with a white background and sign the back of the photo.

Fill in the application form – With your visa support docs and your passport, you’ll have to complete a visa application form and submit it to the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at https://visa.kdmid.ru/PetitionChoice.aspx. In addition, the application must be printed out, signed, and then submit back it back with your passport and visa support documents.

Applying for Russian Visa

Applying for Russian Visa / Submit your application -Once you have gathered all your required docs, submit them to the Russian Consular Department or Visa Center. Note: Some countries are not processing visa applications by mail as of June 1, 2010. This has to do with security issues with certain countries. For example, the UK and Danish travelers need to be fingerprinted at the Russian Centre when applying so they can not send documents through the postal service. You may want to check to see if it’s fine for the documents to be mailed, otherwise, there are other avenues or sources to send the documents for your application for a visa. One can be emailed by way of scanning, or in person. Regardless how you submit, if it’s not urgent the regular process can take up to 30 days.

Nevertheless, to get around this urgency is to make sure you have the right submissions and do it very early, one to two months before you plan on going to Russia. Also, remember that the visa doesn’t begin until you submit the exact date and date of return. This will be on your visa of departure and return.  Do note that the department in charge of the submission of visa does not take urgency by post at any rate. In fact, if you are needing one very urgent, you must be aware of the hours of business of your consular department nearest you. You may have to wait for hours so show up very early. Your application should be attached with your passport, the completed Application Form for the Visa, and necessary visa support documents, health insurance (details), recent color photo, money order for visa fee only for postal service, and a pre-paid self-addressed stamped envelope.

Obtain your visa – When you don’t hear from anyone in a day or two, do not think of calling the Russian Consular Departments, especially after a week of no response. They will get the information, plus the visa support department will contact you when ready. No inquiry or query regarding your visa application is necessary.

Registering your Russian Visa and Migration card

With your Russian visa, you’ll need to register it immediately. At the “point of entry” into Russia, a Migration card will be requested. Filled out in Russian or English, when you present it to the passport control department, they will ‘half- stamp’ it and return it back to you. Keep it with the other docs, especially with your visa upon departure.

The other major Russian airports and at Pulkovo Airport, it’s the same process. Then, they’ll give it back to you the same way.  You also must fill out paperwork there by hand at the crossing of the land border. This is where you’ll register your visa which is extremely important with the Russian Federation. If you lose it, and someone uses it illegally, it would be your name on it.

The people you provide this too along with the accommodation to obliged should be the ones to register your visa within seven a week of entry. If you are traveling on a tourist visa can get it taken care of at their hotel or place of accommodation’s office. You’ll be able to register your visa at the reception check in desk. In this case, the hotel will issue you with proof of registration, which you will be required to submit at passport control when you leave Russia.

Booking an apartment accommodation for your visit will more than likely be registered. It is the responsibility of the manager or owner of the apartment to register you when you arrive. Being properly registered is better than getting a fee charged to you later.

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