Getting a Russian Visa: It’s Not That Hard

Hologram of a Russian Visa
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When you go to Russia, you need a visa. Where to get it and how to meet all the Russian visa requirements is what this article is about. This is a novice guide, so even if you have no idea about these things, I hope that by the end of this article you will have a rather clear picture. Let’s start by explaining the most basic question, which is….

What Is a Visa?

Visa, in layman’s terms, is simply a document that permits you to enter a country (in our case, Russia). This is how it works.  In order to get a Russian visa, you should first get an invitation letter from a Russian citizen, relative, employer or a company via Russian Embassy or consulate.  Then, when you arrive to Moscow, that invitation must be registered by the person or the company that issued it. It must be done within three business days; otherwise you might face some legal trouble on your way back, when it’ll become clear that you’ve been hanging out in Russia without a visa. Now you might be thinking, “But what if you’ve got nobody to get an invitation from, so…”

How Do You Get a Visa Then?

Clearly, not everybody has a close person or a business partner in Russia, so there’s another tricky way in. You can contact a Russian visa service.  Russian consulates have all kinds of ways to arrange a visa for you. It can be anything from two-long-weeks-visa (but it will cost less) to insanely fast same-day-visa (but it will cost a few times more). There are different kinds of agencies; some do more than the others, meaning that some, for example, will register the visa for you and some won’t. And obviously you want to address a visa agency that can actually pull off getting an invitation for you, not just handle the routine. Invitation alone can cost from 50$ to 450$ depending on urgency.

If you have a Russian consulate in your city, you can go there on your own without asking a visa service for help, but we wouldn’t recommend it. Visa agents know all the consulates and smooth ways to get to them, and they’re aware of all the bureaucratic nuances… It’s not that easy to deal with Russian embassies and consulates is what I’m saying, because they practically obey nobody, they can charge as much as they want, and so on.  Okay, so now we know how to get a visa for Russia, but…

What Kind of Visa Do You Need?

That depends on why you need it in the first place. Let’s go from shortest to longest. If you are just flying by and stay in Russia while waiting for the next plane to continue your journey, you need a…

Transit Visa, which is also the easiest to get: you just need to have a visa of your destination country (unless you are a citizen of that country, of course) and your traveling documents. Usually, due to the fact that people mostly use airplanes for traveling, travel visa is limited to 3 days, but if you travel by train, for example, then, depending on your course, it may be stretched for 8 days. If you travel by car then just divide the distance you need to cover by 500 kilometers. Say, you’ve got to make it through 6000 kilometers of Russian roads; then you get a 6 days visa. Important: if you have your next plain in the same airport in 24 hours after your arrival, you do not need a visa. However, If you are a tourist who wants to actually see Russia more or less properly, then, oddly enough, you need a…

Tourist Visa, which is exactly what it sounds like. It can be signed for 30 days max, but usually lasts half that time. In this case you get an invitation from the Russian tourist agency - the receiving side. Nevertheless, if you actually have got someone you know in Russia who can help you out with this, you can get a…

Private Visa, which is what you can arrange if you have got a friend or a relative in Russia that you want to see. This type of visa can allow you to be in Russia for three months, but you can get it only once (the first time that is). You know, possible illegal shipping of something and all that. Now when I said that a Russian tourist visa is what it sounds like, it was a valid point to make, because there is, for example, a… 

Business Visa, which is essentially just a longer version of a tourist visa, for you do not actually need to be involved in any kind of business  in Russia. It’s like business class sections in airplanes – you don’t really need to be a businessman to be there, it is just common for businessmen to choose it. Well, alright, not quite like that, because officially you do need an invitation from some Russian company, but come on, this is what all those agents and consulates get their money for; so when you get this invitation from some Mr. What’s-His-Face “for business reasons,” you may stay in Russia for an entire year. However, if you actually do have business in Russia, you can go as far as getting a…

Work Visa, which means that you must be in official business relationships, an employee, for example. You can prolong it as long as you keep having your business there. If you want to bring some family members to Russia, with you or after you’ve made it yourself, they need a…

Family Member Visa, a personal one for everyone older than 16; those younger than that can be listed in your own visa of in the visas of the older family members that are coming. Family member visa lets your relatives (or you, if you’re the relative who is being invited) to stay there with you for pretty much as long you want them to, but, obviously, not longer than you (and, for that matter, not longer than you want them to, which is quite a relief).

How to Read Your Russian Visa

Congratulations, you finally recieved your entry visa into Russian Federation and it looks like this:

Keys how to read Russian Visa
«Keys how to read Russian Visa» - Read helpful guide in photo Album

Now its time to check all the details in it, and here is the small guide that may help you to read the important information that it has.

In conclusion...

Well, there you go. Now what other kind of useful info can I give you? Alright, here are a few facts:

  1. If you stay in a hotel, registration of the visa is a part of the hotel service, so even if your visa agency wasn’t going to do this bit, don’t bother.
  2. You can request a visa to Russia only from the country that you are a citizen of, so you can’t do it while already touring somewhere. Exceptions can be made for international interests; for example, you are a sportsman and you need to participate in a big event, but you just happened to be elsewhere, not in your own country. 
  3. For all foreign travels you only need a passport, the travel documents (tickets, etc.), and the visa itself. No vaccinations, no other permissions except visa, none of that, so don’t let anyone mess with you.

If you’ve got any questions left and you want to look into this matter more deeply, visit http://www.GoToRussia.com or -  reliable sources with all the information there is to know. I hope this was helpful and see you in Russia! 

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 Hologram of a Russian Visa
«Hologram of a Russian Visa» - See photo in Gallery
 Keys how to read Russian Visa
«Keys how to read Russian Visa» - See photo in Gallery

About Me in Short

Guide, Driver and Photographer Arthur Lookyanov

My name's Arthur Lookyanov, I'm a private tour guide, personal driver and photographer in Moscow, Russia. I work in my business and run my website from 2002. Read more about me and my services, check out testimonials of my former business and travel clients from all over the World, hit me up on Twitter or other social websites. I hope that you will like my photos as well.

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