| Visa to Russia
Most of foreign travelers need a visa to Russia. Answers on FAQ on this subject are below.
WHAT TYPE OF VISA DO I NEED
There are several types of visa: tourist, guest & business. Also visas can be for single and multiple entry. If you come to Russia for 1 month or less to travel around without buying an expensive tour, you need a tourist visa. Maximum period of time covered by such a visa is 1 month and this visa cannot be prolonged while you are in Russia. If you have business partners in Russia and are coming here for business reasons, OR if you plan to travel around Russia for longer than 1 month, apply for a business visa. If you have friends in Russia, they can help you to apply for a guest visa, valid for 1-3 months. This last way of getting your visa is very time-consuming, as your friends have to go to local passport office (OVIR) to apply for you and then this application is considered for some 3-6 months. So most people coming to Russia on visit trip end up considering Tourist Visa anyway.
WHAT IS A TOURIST VISA
The maximum validity period is 1 month. To get this visa you need a licensed travel agency to send to you by fax or e-mail (check it in the Embassy, sometimes they prefer fax copy) 2 papers: 1) VOUCHER and 2) CONFIRMATION of a foreign tourist acceptance. These papers shall contain information about hotels booked for you by the agency (as well as list of cities you plan to see), but all travel agencies involved in this business know, that this is just the only for Russian Embassies are prepared to accept these papers. In reality after you get visa on the basis of these documents you are legally free:
This is actually one of the myths about visa to Russia - all accommodation shall be booked (and paid) in advance. But what really should be done - this information should be mentioned in the invitation documents, but apparently, it is absolutely legal if you go to a city not listed in these documents and settle in an accommodation that is not mentioned there.
WHAT DO I NEED TO APPLY FOR A VISA
The first thing one needs to apply for a visa is to get an is INVITATION. Depending upon the type of visa you are applying for the invitations should be the following:
- for tourist visa : 2 papers - 1) VOUCHER and 2) CONFIRMATION of a foreign tourist acceptance (see above)
- for business visa : invitation from your business partners in Russia specifying dates of visit, purposes, accommodation booked for you, type of business, etc.
- for guest visa : invitation from your friends specifying dates of visit, their address and confirmation of their intention to give you any support you might need. There's a special form for this invitation, ask your friends to check at local OVIR.
For all visa applications one also needs a basic set of the following documents : 2 small photographs, filled in application form (you get this form right at the Embassy), your travel insurance, travel tickets (or their copy, or confirmation of booking). Have with you cash money (about 50 Euro in local currency).
Citizens of the following countries: Israel, Finland and Shengen visa Agreement States (Austria, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Spain, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden & France) must also present a National medical coverage certificate valid for Russia or a guarantee of medical coverage from the Russian hosting organization for the intended period of stay.
WHERE TO APPLY FOR A VISA
Find on this web http://www.russianembassy.net// links to all Consulates and Embassies of Russia all over the world. Here are some direct links to some Russian Embassies and Consulates:
HOW TO APPLY FOR A VISA
It is important to get to the Embassy early in the morning. Usually they start working form 9 a.m., but it is better to take place in a queue at about 6-7 a.m. Embassy usually holds passport for 1 week, unless you apply for an urgent visa (ready in 3 working days, next day, or same day), but it costs considerably more, up to as much as 250 Euro.
WHAT IS 'VISA REGISTRATION' AND HOW TO REGISTER MY VISA
Registration is a purely bureaucratic act that seems to bring a traveler no obvious use or help, but used to cause problems if not being done. Until recently (Jan 2007) one had to get their visas registered within 3 business days of arrival. THis is still so, with the only difference: after January 2007 the only place you can do it is OVIR (local Passport Office) and what is actually very important for you to know - after such registration YOU DO NOT RECEIVE ANY PROOF OF IT - no stamps in your passport, no receipts, nothing. The idea is that all info about your trip this OVIR is supposed to send to the customs passport control of the airport of your departure. In practice it is just not working, and for the first time in history of modern travel to Russia, no one asks for any registration papers once you leave the country. At the moment most of the independent travelers end up NOT registering their visas.
Should you still feel like to follow the law, spare full day on queuing up in OVIR WITH your translator (no-one there speaks English), paying about 25-40 Euros in Rubles equivalent and half of some other day (supposingly next working day, but in practice may be any other day in any amount of time later) to pick up your stuff.