How to get a Russian Visa

A Russian visa is necessary for most tourists to enter the country, unlike in many other popular destinations in the world. If you’re wondering how to get a Russian visa, the nearest Russian embassy or consulate can be of assistance to you. Russia tourist visas must be arranged prior to your departure, and there are a few detailed requirements. One of the benefits of booking a trip to Russia with a tour company is their experience in obtaining visas. As you research options for cruises and other vacation packages, you’ll notice in their advertising the ability to make visa arrangements. Having an expert on your side may help to cut through some of the red tape that independent travelers face.

Every foreign citizen is required to have a tourist or business visa to enter and leave Russia. Whether you choose to explore the country with a tour group or independently, your accommodations in Russia must be arranged before you apply for your tourist visa. This information will be included in the special document (visa) that is attached to your passport. The difficult part about obtaining a Russian visa is the stipulation that says you must be invited by a Russian citizen or company in order to enter the company. This is an essential step of the visa process and the part that most people don’t understand about visiting Russia.

The question of how to get a Russian visa is complicated by the need for an invitation. Even once you have the invitation, you must follow bureaucratic steps in order to leave the country without a problem. Within three days of arriving to Russia, visa holders must register with the consulate. The complications of this process, such as many consulates' only processing paperwork in the mornings, means that many visitors to Russia choose to hire a visa service to do the hard work. These people are experts at obtaining Russia travel visas, and they can arrange for your visa in a day for an expensive fee or two weeks for a normal fee.

If you’d rather avoid learning how to get a Russian visa and want somebody else to do the work, hiring an experienced visa-expediting agency is the path to choose. The best services will take care of the entire process for you: providing you with the invitation, processing the visa at the consulate and getting it back to you, and registering the visa upon your arrival. When researching agencies for Russia tourist visas, make sure agencies offer the last step (registering the visa upon arrival). Some Russian visa agencies only take care of the first steps, expecting you to register within three days of arrival. Failing to do this could cause problems when you try and exit the country after your vacation.

The invitation for a Russian visa alone can cost approximately $300. If the agency you’re working with asks for an extra $50 or so to complete all three steps of the visa process, it is absolutely a worthwhile investment. Allowing someone who is familiar with Russia tourist visas to take care of the details will certainly ease the stress of your planning and research. You’ll also need two passport-sized pictures, signed on the back for the consulate. When applying for the visa, your passport must be valid for at least six months after your departure from Russia or the visa will not be granted. It may be a lot of paperwork to get organized before your trip, but the majesty of Moscow, St Petersburg, and beyond will be well worth the extra effort.

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