Whether your trip to Russia involves admiring the country’s amazing architecture, staring in awe at the masterpieces in the art galleries, taking a leisurely trip on part of the longest railway system in the world or none of the above, you can’t get into ther country as a tourist unless you’ve got a Russian tourist visa.
How to apply for a Russian tourist visa
A Russian tourist visa allows you entry into the country for 1-90 days (unless you’re a US citizen, in which case you can stay for as long as 36 months) and is valid for single, double or multiple entries. The requirements of the visa are pretty lax (you can stay where you want and for how long you want), but the process to get the visa can be overwhelming to say the least, especially if you’re not used to getting tourist visas.
Collect all necessary documents
Before you can begin the application process, you need to obtain a tourist invitation, also known as a visa support letter. When you receive your reservation confirmation and tourist voucher, you need to collect the rest of the necessary documents which include:
- Passport valid for at least six months after your visa will expire and with two clear pages
- Two recent and good quality passport-size photos
- A completed Russian visa application form
You might also be required to provide proof of travel insurance valid for the length of your stay (not necessary for UK citizens).
Present your documents
When you’ve got everything together, you need to research Russian consulates and Russian visa processing centres in your area to find the one closest to you. When you’ve found the right centre, contact them online first to make sure you’ve got absolutely everything they require and then head on over with all your documents to apply in person.
Some consulates don’t accept applications directly and only deal with agencies. To keep things simpler and speed up the application process, we recommend using Visa First to arrange your Russian tourist visa for you.
After you apply for your visa, it can take up to 15 days for it to be processed, so make sure you allow enough time. If you use Visa First, you’ll get your visa much faster – usually within 3-10 days.
How much you pay for your Russian tourist visa depends on the country in which you’re applying and your citizenship. Here’s a basic guide:
Single-entry visa with standard processing time: $160 for US citizens and £30 for UK citizens
Single-entry visa with same-day processing: $300 for US citizens and £90 for UK citizens
Multiple-entry visa with standard processing time: $160 for US citizens and £100 for UK citizens
Multiple-entry visa with same-day processing: $450 for US citizens and £150 for UK citizens
Don’t forget to register your visa
So you’ve got your visa, confirmed your travel arrangements and have just landed in Russia. You probably think you can now just go ahead and enjoy your trip. Not so fast! After you arrive in Russia, you’ve got seven business days to register your visa. Most hotels offer a visa registration service for a small fee. But if you use an agency like Visa First, this will be included in the original cost and you won’t have to worry about it later on.
Extra tips to ensure the success of your visa
It’s important that you wait until you receive your reservation confirmation and tourist voucher before you attempt to fill out your Russian visa application form. There are some details included in the first set of documents that you need to provide in the application and if both sets of information don’t match, your visa won’t be granted.