Russia is a vast and varied country with a wide range of both natural and man-made wonders to explore. From the impressive architecture of the Kremlin and St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, to the chance to take a cruise on the River Volga or a ride on the Trans-Siberian railway, there are plenty of reasons to visit Russia for a holiday.
There are a variety of Russian visa types available, depending on the purpose and duration of the stay. The majority of foreign passport holders wishing to enjoy a short stay in the country are first required to obtain a Visa to Russia for tourism purposes.
At the moment, it’s necessary to request a tourist invitation letter for Russia and complete the application at a Russian Embassy or Consulate to obtain a Russian visa for tourism. However, from 2020, this type of Russian visa is expected to be available as an Electronic Travel Authorization through a simple online application form.
Do I Need a Visa to Go to Russia?
At present, only citizens of 54 nations, including most South American countries and former Soviet states, are able to travel to Russia without a visa. All other passport holders are required to obtain a visa for Russia before traveling to the country.
Citizens of eligible countries are able to get either a single or double-entry tourist visa for Russia valid for a stay of up to 30 days in the country, including:
The only exceptions are citizens of the United States, who are able to get a tourist visa Russia with a total validity of 3 years.
Citizens of 18 eligible countries traveling to the extreme Eastern territories of Russia, including some Arab League and Asian nations, are required to obtain an eVisa for Far East countries through an online application. This electronic visa is valid for a stay of up to 8 days and can be applied for between 20 up to 4 days prior to the departure date.
Before deciding on which travel document is needed, applicants are advised to check the Russia visa requirements, as there are a variety of exemptions for each visa type.
Tips for Completing a Russia Visa Application Form
At the moment, foreign citizens planning a short holiday in Russia must first obtain a Russian tourist invitation online, which can be requested either from a Russian travel company or a hotel or hostel where they will be staying.
The first step in preparing to travel to Russia is to book accommodation for every night of the stay, as evidence of this is an essential requirement to apply for a tourist visa.
It’s then necessary to complete an online application form on the website of the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, filling in personal and passport information, as well as the full intended travel itinerary for the stay.
Once completed, the applicant can print and sign a copy of the form to present alongside the following supporting documentation at a Russian Embassy or Consulate:
- The applicant’s passport, valid for at least 6 months upon the intended entry date to Russia
- The printed tourist invitation
- Proof of valid health insurance to cover the duration of the stay in Russia
- Proof of accommodation bookings for every night of the stay
- Any documentation which supports the stated purpose of the trip as being for tourism (such as tickets for guided tours, attractions or events such as concerts, festivals, etc.)
- A passport-sized photograph
During the application process, it’s necessary to provide a 3.5 x 4.5 cm passport-style photograph with the reverse side signed and dated. It should be taken no more than 6 months prior to the submission of the application. The photograph must be in color and taken against a white background to meet the Russian visa requirements.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Visa to Russia
In total, it will take around 1 week up to 10 days to complete the Russia visa application process. At present, the applicant must first obtain a tourist invitation, complete the online application, and then submit all the required documentation at a Russian Embassy or Consulate.
After consular officials have revised the application, the visa for Russia may be issued as early as 1 day after all the documentation has been submitted.
This process is expected to be expedited and simplified when the Russia visa is made available as an Electronic Travel Authorization from 2020, eliminating the need to submit documentation to a Russian Consulate or Embassy.
How Long Is the Visa Valid for Russia?
For most eligible foreign passport holders, the visa for Russia for tourism allows for a short holiday of up to 30 days in the country. Citizens of the United States only are able to apply for a tourist visa with validity of up to 3 months (90 days).
Those who wish to stay in Russia longer for other purposes such as to conduct business or to work or study will be required to apply for another type of visa for Russia.
Russia Visa Cost
In general, the total cost of the Russian visa application will be around 3900 ₽ (60 USD). This includes the cost of ordering a tourist invitation (900 ₽ or 14 USD), the visa fee to be paid at the consulate (2200 ₽ or 34 USD) and the price of valid Russian travel insurance to cover the stay (800 ₽ or 13 USD).