Step-by-step guide to getting a Russian Visa

If you want to travel to Russia, you need a Russian visa. In order to get a Russian visa, the first thing you need is an invitation (also known as visa support letter). After that, you can apply for the visa at a Russian consulate either by yourself or through a local travel agent (usually for an extra fee). If you want to avoid bureaucratic traps, follow our step-by-step Russian visa application guide below.

1. Decide on the dates
Before you try to apply for a Russian Visa, you should decide exactly when you are going to be traveling and which cities you are going to visit. This information must be included on your visa application.

2. Check your passport
Make sure your passport is valid for the dates you are planning to travel. Most consular departments will require that your passport is valid for at least six months after your planned departure date from Russia. You also need to ensure that you have the required number of clear pages in your passport (this also varies at different consular departments, but two is normally enough).

3. Find your nearest Russian consular department or visa center
The next step is to find the nearest Russian consular department or visa center which will accept your visa application. If you are unsure where that is, check the Russian Consular Locator. Some nationalities (UK citizens, for example) may only be able to apply in their home country or the country where they are officially resident. You will need to check the processing times, application rules and visa tariffs for each consular department separately.

4. Book accommodation
In order to apply for a Russian Travel Visa, you need first to book accommodation. The law requires that you have accommodation booked for every night you spend in Russia (excluding nights spent traveling by train). You can book hotel or apartment accommodation in St. Petersburg directly with SAINT-PETERSBURG.COM, and/or book accommodation of any variety in St. Petersburg and elsewhere in Russia on If you are not planning to book accommodation for every night of your stay in Russia, please contact our visa experts our visa experts for assistance BEFORE BOOKING.

5. Get visa support documents
Once you have booked accommodation, you need to ensure that you get the correct official documents required to support your visa application (visa support documents).
If you applying for a Tourist Visa you require the following relevant documents:
Tourist Voucher
Tourist Confirmation
These documents should be issued by whoever is providing you with accommodation in Russia. You should contact the agency or hotel/hostel with whom you book to find out how to get your visa support documents (this may be a paid service). You can also buy visa support documents without booking accommodation.
Both these documents fit on to one side of an A4 sheet of paper, and they can be presented to most Russian consular departments as a faxed or emailed copy. Some African and Asian nationals, however, need to present the original stamped and signed documents. Check with your nearest consular department or visa center to ensure that a copy is acceptable. If not, you can email us to find out how we can help.

6. Get health insurance
Most Russian consular departments will require you to have health insurance covering the dates of your proposed trip and valid in Russia. If you already have travel health insurance, you will need to confirm that it covers the Russian Federation. You may also have to fill in an Insurance Card, noting the number and validity of your insurance policy.

7. Get your picture taken
Your visa application must be accompanied by a recent photo of yourself. In most cases, you will need to submit one passport-size color photograph taken against a white background. You must remember to sign the back of the photograph.

8. Fill in the application form
Along with your passport and your visa support documents, you will need to submit a completed Visa Application Form. All applicants for Russian visas now have to fill out their application on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here. Note that you will still need to print out a copy of the application form, sign it and submit it along with passport and visa support documents.

9. Submit your application
Now you have everything ready, you can submit your documents to the nearest Russian Consular Department or Visa Center. If you have the time and the opportunity, we strongly recommend that you submit your application by post. It's cheaper and considerably easier than applying in person. However, the process can take up to one month and, as a rule, consular departments do not issue urgent visas by post. If you need a visa urgently, then check the opening hours of your nearest consular department, turn up as early as possible and, in many places, expect to queue. Don't forget that your application must be accompanied by the following documents:
Your passport
A completed Visa Application Form
Relevant visa support documents
Details of health insurance
One color photograph
A postal or money order for the cost of your visa (if applying by post)
A self-addressed envelope with pre-paid postage (if applying by post)
NB: UK and Danish citizens can no longer make postal applications for Russian visas as they are required to attend a Russian visa centre to be fingerprinted before their application will be considered.

10. Obtain your visa
Now all you can do is wait until your visa is issued. There is little point in trying to contact most Russian Consular Departments before the date you have been told your visa will be ready. In most cases, they will not answer any queries about the status of applications.

11. Obtain a Migration Card
Along with your Russian Visa, you will need to obtain a Migration Card at your point of entry into Russia. This is a form in English and Russian which you must complete and present at passport control. Half will be stamped and returned to you, and you must keep it with your visa until your departure. If you are arriving at Pulkovo Airport or other major Russian airports, the migration card is now printed automatically and handed to you at passport control. If you are entering Russia across a land border, you will still have to find the form and fill it out yourself by hand.

12. Register your visa
Once you're inside the Russian Federation, the party that provides you with accommodation is obliged to register your visa within seven working days of entry. If you are traveling on a Tourist Visa and staying in a hotel, then it is almost certain will be able to register your visa at reception. In this case, the hotel will issue you with proof of registration, which you will be required to submit at passport control when you leave Russia.
If you book apartment accommodation for your visit to St. Petersburg, it is also the responsibility of the apartment owner or management company to register you on arrival.

13. Make copies
We strongly recommend that you make photocopies of all your travel documents, including the main pages of your passport, your Russian Visa, and your migration card. Should you lose your passport or migration card during your stay, copies are almost certain to make things easier. They can also be carried with you instead of the original documents in case the Russian police wish to check your identity.

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