All travellers must obtain a visa before travelling to Russia. Visas are issued by one of the Consular Divisions of the Embassy of the Russian Federation abroad. It is possible to submit the application in person, by an agent (eg. a tourist agency or a visa service) or by mail.
Usually it is not a problem to obtain a visa for Russia.
To obtain any visa it is necessary to submit the following documents:
- A completed visa application form (one per person) available free of charge at the Consulates as well as from travel agencies and visa services.
- All entries must be typed or printed in block letters so that the application form can be processed electronically.
- Application forms for holders of the U.S. passport differ from those for citizens of Schengen countries.
- Citizens of Schengen countries, Estonia and Israel should enclose an insurance certificate valid in Russia for the whole period of stay.
- A passport valid for at least six months with at least one clear visa page.
- One recent passport size photo of the applicant stapled to the marked space of the application form.
- A cover letter from the applicant (or the company), containing following information:
- Full personal data of the traveller
- Itinerary in Russia (all destinations including dates of stay)
- Terms and purpose of the trip
Additionally you need:
For a Tourist visa:
- A standard tourist confirmation and a voucher issued by a Russian tour operator or a hotel duly registered with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia. Registered travel companies are assigned a special Tour-reference number.
- NOTE: A tourist visa is valid for one entry and allows a stay up to one month (4 weeks). For longer trips it is necessary to apply for a Business visa.
For a Business visa:
- An official letter of invitation from the hosting organization registered either with one of the local offices of the Russian Ministry of the Interior or with the Russian Foreign Ministry with its regional representatives.
- Self-employed persons should produce copies of their bank statement for the last three months.
- NOTE: There are one-entry, double-entry and multiple-entry business visas. They can be valid up to one year.
For a Private-stay visa:
- Original letter of invitation provided by a Russian citizen, bearing the personal data of the applicant and registered with a local office of the Russian Interior Ministry.
- Those visiting foreign citizens currently working or studying in Russia should obtain an official letter of invitation from the Russian hosting organization (see business visa instructions).
- NOTE: Private visas are valid for one entry up to three months. Visitors willing to obtain a double-entry private visa are required to submit a more detailed cover letter explaining the necessity of a longer stay.
For a Transit visa:
- Valid visas necessary to enter the country or countries of destination
- A copy of travel documents
- A cover letter specifying itinerary, enter and departure dates of the transit.
- NOTE: A transit visa is valid for max. 72 hours. Visitors remaining on the same aircraft or in the transit area of the same airport do not require a transit visa if they get the connecting flight within 24 hours of arrival.
- Visa fees are paid for document consideration and are not refundable. Paid fees do not guarantee the granting of a visa.
- Russian Consulates reserve the right to invite the applicant for a personal interview.
- When entering Russia visitors might be asked to show copies of the tourist confirmation, the hotel voucher and the return ticket with a fixed date of departure from Russia.
- Visitors must register their visas within three working days of arrival in Russia with the local department of the Ministry of the Interior. Those who forget to register might have to pay a penalty if controlled by the police. Usually there are no bigger troubles. Most hotels register their guests automatically. Visitors staying less then three days do not have to register their visas.