It is a essential to obtain a visa for travel to Russia. Tourist visas cannot be obtained on arrival in the country and failure to have a visa can result in airlines refusing to carry you, or entry being barred on arrival.
Rules and regulations for tourist visas can vary from country to country – although the same principles apply in each case:
1. You will need a letter of invitation from a licensed Russian tour operator, together with a hotel voucher confirming your accommodation for the duration of your stay. These documents are in Russian language and difficult to check for many non-Russian speakers. These are provided by many online hotel booking services – http://www.selectrussia.com or http://www.hotelsrussia.com are good examples. http://www.instant-rooms.com provides this service at no cost, provided that you book the hotel.
Hotels can also provide these letters (usually at a cost), but bear in mind that you will need 1 letter for your whole stay…2 letters from hotels in Moscow and St Petersburg respectively will not normally be acceptable to a Russian Consulate.
2. Visas are stamped in passports – so you will be without your passport for a period of time. In general, the longer the time you allow, the cheaper the cost.
3. You cannot apply more than 3 months prior to your date of travel.
4. your passport needs to be valid for 6 months after the date of your exit from Russia.
5. Certain consulates only allow private applications in person, and others only by post. Check before you decide how to proceed.
Please note that certain consulates are under pressure with large volumes of applications and limited staff resources to deal with all of the applications that they receive – it can be frustrating to stand for a long time in a queue only to find your entry barred as the Consulate closes for the day.
Many companies now use visa services – companies that make the process simpler and handle the process for you. Such companies are generally specialised in travel to Russia and can provide detailed information.
Our sites address these issues and provide cost-effective solutions:
http://www.asla.co.uk – this is our visa service for UK-based clients for full information on procedures and costs.
www.myrussianvisa.com – full range of services offered and a time-saving and frustration-busting service for those trying to get to stage one of the process – obtaining a visa support letter.