General Information on Visa to Russia

*** ATTN If you arrive in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Kazan or Sochi between 1 June 2017 and 12 July 2017 you have to get a registration during next 24 hrs or on the next working day if you arrive on weekend. You don’t have to worry if you stay at a hotel, they’ll do everything themselves.

If you arrive in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Kazan, Volgograd, Ekaterinburg, Kaliningrad, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don, Samara, Saransk or Sochi between 25 May 2018 and 25 July 2018 you have to get a registration during next 24 hrs or on the next working day if you arrive on weekend. ***

Most foreign citizens need a visa to enter Russia. Get in touch with the nearest Russian Consulate to learn about the procedure.

Here I will give you general information on visas.

A set of documents you need to prepare depends on your citizenship and the purpose of your visit. I will deal with a tourist visa, a homestay/private visa (when you stay at your friend’s place instead of a hotel) and a transit visa. That means business, humanitarian, work and student visa issues will be left out. All the information I provide is relevant only to the holders of ordinary international passports, excluding diplomatic and service ones (their holders more often than not enjoy more freedom of travel).

TOURIST VISA – This type of visa allows of a single or double entry only and a maximum stay of 30 days

HOMESTAY VISA – This type of visa allows of a single or double entry only and a maximum stay of 90 days.

TRANSIT VISA – You do not need this visa if your transit time is less than 24 hours and you do not intend to leave the international transit zone at the airport. A transit visa allows a maximum stay of 3 days if you are travelling by air and 10 days if you are travelling by other means of transport.

Set of documents for a tourist visa:

  1. You should fill in a Visa Application Form, most consulates will accept it after you fill it in online here https://visa.kdmid.ru, print it out and sign.
  2. A passport valid for 6 months after your visa’s expiration date. There should be two blank pages in your passport.
  3. A recent photo (colour or black&white) 4,5cmx3,5cm (should be glued to the Visa Application Form).
  4. A Tourist Voucher and a Tourist Confirmation.
  5. An insurance policy
  6. Documents serving as confirmation that you have enough money for your stay in Russia, e.g. a bank statement
  7. Tickets and hotel booking

Set of documents for a homestay visa:

  1. You should fill in a Visa Application Form, most consulates will accept it after you fill it in online here https://visa.kdmid.ru, print it out and sign.
  2. A passport valid for 6 months after your visa’s expiration date. There should be two blank pages in your passport.
  3. A recent photo (colour or black&white) 4,5cmx3,5cm (should be glued to the Visa Application Form).
  4. A Letter of Invitation (original). This should be issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or a Russian Federal Migration Service office (ФМС in Russian)
  5. An insurance policy
  6. Tickets

Set of documents for a transit visa:

  1. You should fill in a Visa Application Form, most consulates will accept it after you fill it in online here https://visa.kdmid.ru, print it out and sign.
  2. A passport valid for 6 months after your visa’s expiration date. There should be two blank pages in your passport.
  3. A recent photo (colour or black&white) 4,5cmx3,5cm (should be glued to the Visa Application Form).
  4. Tickets
  5. An insurance policy
  6. A visa to the country you want to enter after leaving Russia.

Here you can check if you need a visa according to your citizenship Do I need a visa to Russia (Turkish citizens need a visa to enter Russian from 1 January 2016) and here you can access a free Timatic on visa requirements http://www.iatatravelcentre.com/passport-visa-health-travel-document-requirements.htm

Explanatory notes to the table ‘Do I need a visa to Russia’

Visa-free – no need to have a visa to cross the border

Visa-free 90/180 – you can spend not more than 90 days in each 180-day period without a visa

Visa-free 60, 90/180 – no need to have a visa to cross the border and stay in Russia for 60 days but you can spend not more than 90 days in each 180-day period without a visa

V – visa needed

V30 – visa needed, maximum stay 30 days

For transit visas – V3 – transit visa will be issued for a maximum of 3 days if you intend to enter and leave Russia by plane, V10 – transit visa will be issued for a maximum of 10 days if you intend to enter and leave Russia by other means of transport.

In the last column you will find your country’s name in Russian the way it is on the site https://visa.kdmid.ru , the site has geolocation and opens in Russian if you are in Russia, you cannot choose the language of the site unless you choose your citizenship first

Facts you need to know:

  1. There are two issues with Russian visas – time and the fact that you most probably should bring original Invitation letter to the Consulate. You cannot decide to go to Russia next weekend, you should bear in mind that all the formalities can take from 2 weeks to 3 months, 45 days in general. After your invitation documents are ready more often than not they should be delivered to you by DHL or Pony Express, which can be costly.
  2. If you enjoy a visa-free entry to Russia or you are travelling with a visa you should be able to present your Invitation letter or Invitation from the hotel/tourist company (2 pages), tickets, insurance policy, money to the Immigration Control Officer at the airport, at the checkpoint or on the train if asked to. Please, don’t forget to check your passport validity, it should be more than 6 months after you leave Russia.
  3. Russian visa cannot be prolonged.
  4. The cost of your visa depends on your citizenship, type of your visa and the time it takes the consulate to consider your visa, the faster you want it to be approved the more you should pay.
  5. There exist a number of visa regulation agreements between Russia and other countries. For example, EU citizens can expect to get a multiple entry visas to Russia for up to 1 year (depending on the record).
  6. Visa applications are not accepted more than 90 days before the journey. Visa should be issued more than three days before you enter Russia.
  7. If you intend to travel to Belarus or Kazakhstan via Russia you must obtain a transit visa.
  8. Visa Application Forms are different for Americans, Canadians, British, Georgians and the rest of the world. Both pages of the Form should be printed on both sides of one sheet of paper.
  9. Holders of APEC Business Travel Cards (ABTC) are admitted to Russia for a short-term business visit or a temporary business residence if they have RUS printed on the back side of their card.
  10. Cruise passengers visiting Russia enjoy a 72-hour visa waiver if
  • – They stay overnight on board.
  • – The vessel stays in the port for not more than 72 hours
  • – Passengers have valid passports and tour tickets
  • – They disembark only as a group and spend their time according to the programme of the shipping company.

If you want to see Russia on your own (not as a part of a group) you should apply for a tourist visa.

11. If your passport has expired but your visa to Russia is still valid you can transfer it to your new passport, get in touch with your nearest consulate for this.

In the end I would like to say that you, guys, should not retreat from your wish to travel the world because of the visa formalities. This is something most people on this planet should overcome. On the following pages I will try to give a more detailed account of the procedure. Hope, this helps.

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