Visa for Russia: how to get it (costs, times, etc.)

La Russia it is among the nations that have always fascinated me very much. In fact it is a continent and a lifetime is not enough to see it all! At the moment I have only visited St. Petersburg , Moscow e Irkutsk, and I crossed the south of the country with the Trans-Siberian , however, I intend to visit many of its regions in depth. But what are the documents required to enter this magnificent country?

Do you need a visa to go to Russia? 

Yup! To enter Russia you need an entry visa, which changes depending on the reason for the visit: tourist, business, work, humanitarian, study, private, transit or temporary stay visas. In this article I will focus only on the tourist visa, but know that the procedure is different for each type.    

NOTE January 2021: the legislation relating to COVID-19 currently in force does not provide for travel for tourism to the Russian Federation! 

Electronic visa for St. Petersburg and Leningrad

From 1 October 2019, citizens of a list of 53 states can obtain a electronic visa for staying up to 8 days in the territory of St. Petersburg and in the Leningrad region (Leningradskaya Oblast). The electronic visa it's free and is required through this link. It must be requested online at least four days in advance of the expected date of entry and has one maximum validity of 30 days, within which it is possible to stay and move, but only within the regions indicated, for a maximum of 8 days in total. The electronic visa allows you to enter and exit the Russian Federation through the air, sea, car and pedestrian (but NOT rail !!!) border points located in the territory of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region.

Be very careful when filling in the online form because you can be rejected at the border in the event of even minimal discrepancies (name / surname written wrong, people with double name or double surname, etc.). The data entered in the online form must be identical to that printed on the passport. Likewise, it is essential not to exceed the stay limit indicated on the electronic visa (otherwise you risk fines and, potentially, the ban on entry to Russia for 5 years!). 

Tourist visa for Russia: necessary documents and steps (do-it-yourself procedure)

It would seem that, shortly, the electronic visa will be extended to the entire Russian territory for citizens of about fifty countries, for a duration of 60 days (single entry) with the possibility of staying in the country for a maximum of 16 days. This visa, unlike the other one, will however be paid. 

However, until this new decree comes into force, the procedure remains the following, much more complex and cumbersome (at least from my point of view). If you intend to apply for a visa on your own, the necessary documents and steps these are:

  1. Passport valid for at least 6 months from the date of expiry of the visa requested, with at least 2 blank pages inside (where the visa will be affixed)
  2. Detailed itinerary of the trip
  3. Precise departure and return dates
  4. The tourist voucher or "letter of invitation", which must be issued by a Russian organization that carries out the activity of tour operator and whose data is present in the Single Federal Register of tour operators (usually the hotels where you will stay). The voucher must indicate the name and stamp of the hotel or tour operator and the signature of the manager with the indication of his full position and name. 
  5. A picture passport size (3,5 x 4,5 cm).
  6. A health insurance policy, which fully covers the period of validity of the visa and has a ceiling of at least 30.000 euros. If you do not have a trusted company, you can do it directly at the consulate for a surcharge. 
  7. The electronic visa form (EVA) compiled on the site, printed and signed. Also in this case you have to be very careful so that there is no inconsistency; before saving the form, check all the data carefully. The saved form is valid for 30 days, within which you must go to the visa center you have chosen. Find the complete list of Russian consular offices. 
  8. The appointment at a Russian visa center / consular office. After choosing the consular office that is most convenient for you, you will have to make an appointment (it is done online) specifying your details (it is not possible to book a group appointment, each traveler must make their own appointment). If you plan to travel in high season, book early as you may find few useful dates. When you go to the appointment you will need to bring all the documents indicated above (passport, photo, insurance, etc.). 

Tourist visa for Russia through an agency

If you do not have time or desire to follow all these steps you can rely on an agency accredited by the Russian Federation that will do it for you, such as VisaPassport. You can go to their agency in Rome or they will come to pick up your passport wherever you want in Spain and then return it to you with the Russian visa affixed. In this case the procedure will be more than simplified because they will be the intermediaries between you and the Consulate. 

How much does the Russian visa cost?

The Russian tourist visa obtained through the Consulate costs 35 €, 70 if you do the urgent practice with delivery within 3 days after the request. If, on the other hand, you rely on an agency, the cost may vary but is around 70 euros (normal procedure, not urgent). 

How long does it take to get a Russian visa?

With the normal procedure the visa application is processed in about 10 days, with the urgent one in 3. My advice is to request it at least 30 days before departure to avoid surprises. 

You may also be interested in these articles about Russia:

  • What to see in Moscow in 2 days
  • What to see in St. Petersburg
  • The Trans-Siberian: from Moscow to Beijing by land, 8400 km and 7 time zones

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