What is a Russian Visa?

If you're traveling to Russia, you will most likely need a Russian visa. Many people think that it's super complicated and that they have to pre-book a fixed itinerary tour, but it's not true. With a little bit of knowledge you can get your visa within a few days, have the complete freedom where and when you travel in Russia, and avoid many traps set up by greedy tour operators together with bureaucrats. In this section we explain what you need to do to get one, step by step. If you don't have time to read through, go straight to our Russian Visa Step-by-Step section to get a Russian visa online.

Step 1: What Is a Russian Visa

A Russian visa is a special document attached to your passport, that grants you a permit to enter and to leave the Russian Federation during a period of time specified in the visa. Every foreign citizen needs a Russian visa to enter / leave Russia, except nationals of Serbia and CIS countries (former USSR without Baltic States).

A Russian visa looks like this:

Generally, there are six types of Russian visas: 1) a tourist visa, 2) a business visa, 3) a student visa, 4) a personal (private) visa, 5) a transit visa, 6) work visa. Each visa type corresponds to the purpose of your visit. 
However, many people come for a short business trip with tourist visas, or to visit their friends with business visas. So, when choosing the type of visa, the only consideration should be — price / speed of processing / period of stay / the number of entries, and not the formal name of the visa.

Generally, the best options in terms of price, processing speed and flexibility are tourist and business visas. It's better to get a tourist visa if you plan to stay in Russia no longer than one month, and need a single- or a double-entry only. It's better to get a business visa if you plan to stay in Russia longer than 1 month and / or need a multiple-entry visa.
It is easier to obtain a tourist visa, because a business visa costs more, and takes longer to process, although it may save you time and money if you are going to visit Russia several times during 1 year.

Step 2: How and Where to Get a Russian Visa

You can get a Russian visa in a Russian consulate at the country you're currently in. To apply for a Russian visa, you need to submit to a Russian consulate certain documents, depending on the type of visa you require. 
For example, to apply for a tourist visa, you need to submit: a) your passport, b) three passport-size photos, c) a visa application form and d) an invitation from Russia (the type of the invitation depends on the visa you wish to get – tourist, business or private). There might be some additional requirements if you apply for a business or student visa (e.g. travel insurance or HIV test), but they are not always obligatory.
The originals of the visa support (invitation) documents are only required if you're applying for a multiple-entry or if you're applying in one of the following countries: Switzerland, Sweden, and sometimes Australia, Japan, and Germany.
To process your visa, the consulate will charge you a certain visa processing fee depending on the type of your visa and the speed of processing (the more you pay, the faster your request is processed). Usually, a tourist visa costs from $60 to $100 US (lowest) and takes about 7 to 14 days to process.

Step 3: What is the Invitation and How to Get It:

All the required documents that are listed above are easy to get and you should already have them available. The only document that you don't already have is the invitation. 
The invitation (also called visa support or tourist confirmation and tourist voucher) is a special document issued by the party that invites you to Russia. The invitation is required by a Russian consulate to be able to process your visa. For every type of visa, there exists a different type of invitation (tourist, business, private, student). For example, to apply for a tourist visa, you'll need a tourist invitation (a tourist visa support). A tourist invitation (or visa support) looks something like this (though it may look different as well):

The invitation (visa support) can be issued by a Russian travel agency or by a company or organisation authorized by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). 
Important: According to the Russian law regulating the status of foreign citizens in Russia (effective 1 Nov 2002), all the functions of visa support authorization will gradually pass from MFA to the Russian Interior Ministry (RIM). If doesn't affect you as a traveler, however, you may expect a slight change in visa support (invitation) processing time and costs.
After you receive the invitation, you can bring it along with the other documents needed to the consulate and apply for your Russian visa. It's always better to ask the Russian consulate first whether they accept copies of invitations or only originals and to specify it when applying for an invitation to facilitate processing. 

A tourist invitation is needed to get a tourist visa. The tourist invitation comprises two papers: tourist confirmation and tourist voucher. It usually costs about $30 US and takes from 1 hour to 1 day to be issued. Usually, a copy of the invitation is acceptable to the consulate (a fax, a printed out scanned copy), but sometimes they require originals (can be sent by post). When you receive this invitation, you can take it along with the other documents (see Step 2) to the consulate and apply for your Russian visa.

Step 4: So, How Long and How Much Will It Take?

First of all, you should get an invitation ready. After it's done, you can take the invitation to the Russian consulate along with other documents needed and a visa application form. 
The Russian consulate will accept your papers, charge a visa processing fee, and issue your visa in 1 to 14 days (depends on how much you pay). So, the total processing time will be about 1 day to apply and receive an invitation + about 1 day to submit the documents to the Russian consulate + average 7 days for visa processing = about 9 days. The total visa expenses will be about $30 US for the invitation paid to a travel agency (for a tourist visa) + about $50 US for visa processing paid to the Russian consulate = $80 US.

Are you ready to go to Baikal? Book the travel with requisition form


Вы можете присоединиться к уже сформированным группам и не только увидеть красоту Байкала, но и найти новых друзей.
В таких турах размер групп от 8 до 16 человек - это оптимальное количество людей для комфортного путешествия по Байкалу.

В тур такого типа вы можете поехать своей компанией в ту дату, которая удобна вам, а маршрут и способ передвижения можно скорректировать под ваши запросы

Туры такого типа разработаны специально для отдыха всем коллективом.