Getting Into Russia can feel pretty overwhelming when it comes to getting your hands on the all important and vital VISA. But have no fear it really doesn’t need to be as difficult and many of the websites may make you think.
You can apply for the visa no more than one month is advance. However it is possible to complete in as little 2 weeks. I recommend you give yourself the month; you will save your self a lot of unnecessary stress, if you come across any hiccups. Before any application can begin there are a few documents you will need to have in order.
Number one, needless to say you need a valid passport, with at leased 6 months left on a free page.
Next, you’ll need insurance that covers your entire stay. You should really get this no matter where you decide to go, it’s a no-brainer. There are 101 different travel insurances that you can easily purchase. Make sure to give the company a call and insure they will cover Russia and all the activities you intended on doing.
Now, the invitation letter.
This is a letter from the hotel you are staying at that states you have a booking with them, which dates, and all their details. Technically this is the place in which you are required to stay for the entirety of your stay, however the visa will NOT have this address printed on it, so moving from the hotel, and city is not a problem. You will only need this invitation letter for the Visa (basically the Russian government just wants proof of where you are staying), once that is obtained you can cancel your booking (make sure you make a refundable booking with the hotel or hotel provider), and stay where ever you please. The easiest thing to do is pay a hotel or company to send you this invitation letter, while well aware you have no intention on staying there. I found the cheapest hostel, booked it for the month and cancelled it after I obtained my visa, getting a full refund. (Everyone does this)
Please note there are scams, so do your research. I used Fortuna Travel, and they where great. For €9.99 (single entry) or €14.99 (double Entry) you can have your invitation letter in minutes, I cannot recommend them more. Follow the link https://visatoruss.com/ and they will walk you through the process with ease.
So you’ve got your invitation letter, now its time to fill out your visa application form at https://visa.kdmid.ru/PetitionChoice.aspx. It is a long for but pretty straight forward. You will need to print this and stick a passport-sized photo to it.
It is now time you get all your documents in order, print them off and head to the Russian consulate. This includes: Your passport (and copies) proof of address (either a bank statement or copy of your drivers licence). Your invitation letter, a copy of you hotel booking, your insurance policy stating you are covered for the duration of your stay. The application form signed and with the passport photo pasted on. And off course your payment. The price depends of your country and wether it is a single or double entry visa and the processing time. A single entry with 10 days processing will set you back around €90, some consultants only accept “postal money order”, check the consulates website.
Take all this to the embassy, an appointment should not be necessary, but again check the consultants website. Hand in your documents, make the payment and leave your passport. They will give you a slip of paper, and tell you the date it will be ready, come back on the date with the paper (with this paper, someone else can pick up your passport for you, if you cannot make it on the day) and collect your passport and VISA. Check your Visa, there would be nothing worse than to be knocked back at the border for something as small as spelling.
Now, its time to explore Russia. Check out my Crossing the Border into Russia Page to see exactly what to expect when entering Russia.