This section details the requirements for obtaining a Russian visa, standard forms of supporting documents as well as information about Russian consulates in 20 countries with the highest inbound tourism flows to Russia.
A list of countries whose nationals are entitled to visa-free entry to Russia for tourism purposes
As at 01.02.2017.
Up to 30 days: Bosnia and Herzegovina, China (in tourist groups only), Cuba, Macau, Macedonia, Mongolia, Montenegro, Serbia, Seychelles, Thailand.
Up to 60 days: Republic of Korea, Mauritius.
Up to 90 days: Azerbaijan, Argentina, Armenia, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Fiji, Gonduras, Guatemala, Israel, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Salvador, Ukraine, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela.
More than 90 days: Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan.
However, visa exemption is linked to certain additional requirements, such as:
– Nationals of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Israel, Montenegro, Montenegro, Serbia are to provide the invitation or tourist voucher (original only) from the host party, confirming touristic purposes.
– Chinese nationals are only permitted to travel in groups passing through special border checkpoints (Moscow international airports are categorized among such border checkpoints).
– All visa-exempt foreign nationals are to comply with the migration registration requirements.
We recommend being acquainted with the applicable requirements before the trip. In particular, a requirement for biometric passport provision may exist.
Types of Russian visas
Russian visas are subdivided into the following categories: a tourist visa, a business visa, a transit visa, a student visa, a private visa, and a work visa. There are also diplomatic visas, service visas, and temporary resident visas. According to the number of entries three kinds of visas are issued:
– A single-entry visa permits a single (one-time) entry onto the territory of the Russian Federation;
– A double-entry visa permits one or two entries to Russia;
– A multiple-entry visa allows you to visit the Russian Federation more than two times. It is only granted with approval by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The validity of any visa (entry/exit) is also defined precisely.
As a rule, foreign tourists enter Russia with a transit, private or tourist visa. A Russian visa is pasted into the passport and looks like this:
Below you will find some basic information to know before obtaining a Russian visa
Tourist visa to Russia. It is issued only for travel for tourism purposes, permits single or double entry and is valid for up to 30 days. It is granted on the basis of a confirmation of reception of the foreign tourist by the tour operator company to Russia (also known as Confirmation of tourist acceptance) issued by a company, registered in the Unified Federal Register of Travel Agencies. It is issued to tourists who have booked a hotel or a package tour to Russia. Please note that a hotel booking confirmation only (without Confirmation of tourist acceptance) cannot serve as the grounds for issuing a visa. This visa cannot be extended while in Russia.
Visa for a private visit (a private visa). This type of visa is suitable for those tourists whose host party is family or friends residing in Russia. It is valid for a period of 1 to 90 days. It is issued on the basis of on original private visa invitation from the host party (i.e. a physical person registered with the FMS (Federal Migration Service)). Processing a private visa requires more time – up to 4 months, as well as a number of additional supporting documents, including a medical certificate confirming the absence of HIV/AIDS. It permits a visit to only one Russian city which is indicated in the invitation.
Transit visa. It is issued when a tourist is travelling via Russia en route to the country of his destination. Visa issuance is usually straightforward. No invitation is required. To obtain a transit visa it is necessary to hold copies of tickets and a valid visa to the country of the final destination. As a rule, it is issued for up to 72 hours while in certain cases, for example, if you are traveling via Russia by train, for up to 10 days. A transit visa is mandatory if you are passing through the Russian Federation in transit.
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Steps to take to obtain a Russian tourist visa
You can always use the services of a travel/visa agency in your country of residence, that will help you collect all the required documents and complete the necessary forms. Below you will find detailed information concerning the procedures in case you decide to get a visa by yourself without an agency’s services.
Once you have decided on the dates and itinerary, you should get the address of the Russian consulate in your country of residence that is authorized to issue visas – and check the requirements for the documents and deadlines for their submission which apply to your particular country. Please note that residence is a key word: i.e., you can apply either in your country of citizenship or in another country where you have been living legally for over 90 days. In the usual circumstances you are recommended to allow 14 days minimum for your visa application to be processed. However, it is possible to submit the documents later and speed up the processing of your application (within 3 business days, excluding the day of submission); a higher consular fee is charged for urgent applications. You can also find information for foreign tourists on the Russiatourism’s website (the Federal Agency for Tourism): http://www.russiatourism.ru/en/.
The documents needed for a Russian visa:
– The original passport that must be valid for no less than six months after the intended exit date and have at least two clear pages;
– a completed visa application;
– photographs of the applicant;
– an invitation to Russia from the host party, i.e. confirmation of foreign tourist acceptance issued by a travel agency (registered in the Unified Federal Register of Travel Agencies) and bearing its reference number;
– a tourist voucher and/or hotel reservation confirmation, copies of tickets, and a travel insurance policy valid in Russia;
– documents that show the applicant’s financial situation;
– consular fee payment.
Please note that a specific requirement in the procedure of obtaining a Russian visa is submitting a Confirmation of tourist acceptance issued by the host party on the company’s official letterhead paper bearing a confirmation reference number. Russian consulates in some countries require the original confirmation, but in most countries a scanned or faxed copy is accepted. As a general rule, a sum of approximately 30 to 50 dollars is charged for issuing this document. The document form can vary but it should have the following obligatory information and similar layout:
Confirmation of tourist acceptance may only be issued by a company that is on the Unified Federal Register of Travel Agencies of Russia. The document can be obtained in the following ways:
- Through a travel agency in your country, if you book a package tour to Russia.
- Through a Russian hotel that you book on your own. Make sure you check this possibility in advance as hotels are not obliged to issue Confirmation of tourist acceptance.
- Through a Russian on-line visa agency. Many companies offer this service through the Internet. To avoid scams, you can use the link below to check whether a company that offers to issue confirmation for you is on the Unified Federal Register of Travel Agencies (in Russian only): http://russiatourism.ru/operators/. You can also check it using the telephone number provided on the Russiatourism’s website: +7 (495) 608-99-80.
- Through a visa agency in your country. It is also advisable to check the validity of the Confirmation of tourist acceptance it has issued.
Tourist visa for a child
If a child is entered on the parent’s passport, a separate visa application form is not filled in for them as the child will be entered on the parent’s visa. In this case the child’s details must be specified in the Tourist Confirmation, and their picture must be attached to the application form. Please note that the parent’s passport must bear a photograph of the child if they are over 6 years old (or over 4 years old for certain countries).
If a child has their own passport, it is necessary to provide the full package of documents for them and issue a separate child’s tourist visa, which will be pasted into their passport.
If you apply for a multiple (non-tourist) visa, it is mandatory to submit a separate set of documents and apply for a separate visa for a child.
- You should apply for a visa as early as possible. If an error is found in your documents, you will have time to correct it and submit the documents again.
- It is not advisable to apply for a Confirmation of tourist acceptance to the first visa agency that catches your eye – you will know little about its reputation.
- After you have received your passport with a visa, make sure you check all the information in the visa carefully.
- It is recommended to take copies of all the documents including your passport with a visa, confirmation of tourist acceptance and travel insurance in case they get lost during the trip.
- If you have the opportunity, it is preferable to submit your documents to the consulate in person rather than send them by mail.
- Even if you have an opportunity to obtain a private visa based on an invitation from your friends in Russia, a tourist visa is much quicker and easier to issue and costs less.
- Make sure you read the rules of stay in Russia: www.moscovery.com/visas-and-consulate.
Russian entry visa may be refused for the following few reasons:
– your set of documents is incomplete, or there are errors or inconsistencies in the documents;
– your application or information contained in your application is found to be deliberately misleading;
– you are known to have previously committed offences or crimes on the territory of Russia;
– the security of the state needs to be ensured. If you are a member of a politically active social group and the Russian government suspects that you plan to enter the country to participate in political activities, rallies, etc., there is a risk of being refused a visa.
Russian consulates worldwide
- Australia: Canberra, Sydney. http://australia.mid.ru/web/en
- Belarus: Minsk, Brest. belarus.mid.ru/
- Brazil: Brasilia. brazil.mid.ru/pt/web/brasil_pt
- Canada: Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal. http://canada.mid.ru/en_US/web/canada-en
- China: Shenyang, Hong Kong, Guangzhou. rusconshanghai.org.cn/chinese/
- Finland: Helsinki. http://helsinki.mid.ru/
- France: Paris, Strasbourg, Marseille. http://france.mid.ru/web/france_fr
- Germany: Berlin, Bonn, Hamburg, Leipzig, Munich, Frankfurt am Main. http://frankfurt.mid.ru/
- Italy: Rome, Milan, Palermo, Genoa. http://roma.mid.ru/it_IT/web/roma_it
- Israel: Tel Aviv. http://israel.mid.ru/
- Japan: Tokyo, Sapporo, Osaka, Niigata. russia-emb.jp/japanese/
- Latvia: Riga, Liepaja, Daugavpils. www.latvia.mid.ru/lat.html
- Spain: Madrid, Barcelona. spain.mid.ru/es_ES/
- The Netherlands: The Hague. http://netherlands.mid.ru/en_GB/web/netherlands-en
- The Republic of Korea: Busan. http://russian-embassy.org/en/
- The United Kingdom: London, Edinburgh. rusemb.org.uk/
- The USA: Washington, New York, Houston, San Francisco, Seattle. russianembassy.org/
- Turkey: Ankara, Istanbul, Antalya, Trabzon. turkey.mid.ru/tur/index.html
- Ukraine: Kiev, Kharkov, Odessa, Lviv. http://ukraine.mid.ru/
- Switzerland: Bern. switzerland.mid.ru/de/index.html