Frequently Asked Questions
GENERAL VISA ISSUES
I am a US citizen, and I know that I can travel to many countries without a visa. Does this apply to Russia?
No. In order to travel to Russia, US citizens must apply for a Russian visa.
I am a Russian citizen and a permanent US resident. Do I need a visa to travel to Russia?
No, you don’t, if you have a valid Russian passport.
Can I get a Russian visa in Russia without leaving the country?
No, Russian visas are issued by Russian embassies and consulates outside Russia.
I am in St Petersburg at the moment and I’d like to prolong my stay for at least a week. Can I extend my visa?
As a rule, Russian visas cannot be extended. The local department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs may extend your visa for a maximum of 10 days upon receiving a request (supported by relevant documentation) in the event of a serious illness, an accident, missing your flight, or seat unavailability where an open-dated ticket is held.
I am a UK citizen. Can I get a Russian visa from a Russian Embassy or Consulate outside the UK – in Paris, for example?
Yes, if you have a residence permit for that country. If not, a UK citizen can apply for a Russian visa only in the UK.
Does a child need a visa to enter Russia?
Children under 16 travelling with a parent and on their parent’s passport do not need a separate Russian visa.
My visa has expired. What should I do?
A valid visa is necessary to leave Russia. Travellers who overstay the validity of their visa, even by one day, will be prevented from departing. You will need to obtain an exit visa. Your visa sponsor (person or legal entity who issued your Russian visa invitation) should intervene and present the following to the Federal Migration Service office: a letter of request, your passport, two photos, and a travel ticket with a fixed departure date. A visa fee also has to be paid, along with a fine for overstaying the validity of the visa. In some cases your visa may be extended at the consular offices located at Russian international airports. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs can also grant areturn certificate on the basis of a diplomatic note from the embassy or consulate of your country of citizenship. With this certificate you will not require an exit visa and can leave Russia within 10 days.
My passport and visa have been lost or stolen. What should I do?
You can apply for a new passport only at the embassy or consulate of your country of citizenship. It is normally impossible for a visa to be replaced, so you will need an exit visa instead. Your visa sponsor should present the following to the Federal Migration Service: a letter of request, your passport, two photos, travel ticket with a fixed departure date. A fee must also be paid. In addition, it is necessary to obtain a report stating that your passport and visa have been lost from the local police station.
NB: To avoid obstacles in obtaining an exit visa, you are advised to make copies of your passport and visa before leaving for Russia, and present them to the local police when reporting the loss of your documents. Otherwise you will have to wait until the investigation of the theft is completed.
What is the difference between a tourist visa and a business visa?
A tourist visa is a single/double entry visa valid for up to 30 days, while a business visa can be multiple-entry and valid for up to 12 months. The main difference between the two is the purpose of the trip, and the documents you have to submit to the embassy/consulate when applying for a tourist visa differ from those for a business visa. The time of processing and the consular fees may also vary.
I am making a private trip (for example, to visit friends). Can I travel on a tourist visa?
Absolutely. The process of obtaining a private visa is a long and difficult one, so we advise people to apply for tourist visas instead of private ones.
If I am flying to another country via Moscow, do I need a transit visa?
Yes, you do. You should apply for a transit visa (valid for up to 72 hours) at the Russian embassy/consulate, showing them your air tickets to and from Moscow.
Can I renew my one-year multiple-entry Russian visa?
Multiple-entry visas are non-renewable.
What is an invitation and why do I need one in order to apply for a visa?
Whatever type of Russian visa you need (with the exception of a transit visa), it requires a specific visa support document. That is an invitation issued by the party that invites you to Russia - tourist company, friend or relative, legal institution or a company-employer.
I want to get a a tourist invitation, but the travel dates are inexact so far. Can I give a travel agency rough dates within the same month?
Yes, you may mention rough travel dates within a month. But please, note, some Consulates prefer to have identical information on your invitation, application form and tickets, so this discrepancy might lead to visa refusal.
I have booked a hotel room in St Petersburg, Russia, and received a booking confirmation. Is it enough to apply for a Russian tourist visa?
No, you need to have a tourist voucher and an invitation. They could be issued only by the company registered by the Russian Ministry of Foreigh Affairs and having reference number. Ask the hotel managers if they could assist you with ent (most hotels provide this service).
Do I need an original invitation or is a fax/email copy enough?
Some Russian consulates accept only original invitations, while others take fax copies or even e-mail (scan) copies as well.
Who issues business and tourist invitations?
Business invitations are issued by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs or by the Passport and Visas Department of the Ministry of Interior of Russia upon requests of accredited companies. Tourist invitations are issued by Russian travel agencies, accredited in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia.
How fast I can get Russian visa invitation?
A single or a double entry invitation for 3 months can be processed in 1 business day.
How do I locate my nearest Russian embassy/consulate?
Please consult our list of Russian embassies and consulates worldwide.
How long does it take to get a visa?
The processing time for a visa varies in Russian embassies and consulates worldwide. The standard processing time is 6–10 working days. Urgent processing is available for an additional fee.
Is it possible to apply for a Russian visa by post, as the Russian Consulate is far from where I live?
If you have no opportunity to go to the Russian embassy/consulate in person, you can normally send your application and supporting documents by post. You will then receive your visa from the embassy/consulate by post once it has been issued. However, some embassies/consulates do not accept postal applications. In that case, you should contact an authorized visa agency. Full and up-to-date information about requirements, processing time, and fees may be obtained from your nearest Russian embassy/consulate.
For what reasons may I be refused a Russian visa?
A visa may be refused for a number of reasons:
• Fraud or misrepresentation in the application
• If the applicant is considered to be a security risk. A detailed list of reasons for refusing a visa can be found here
Will I get a refund if my visa application is rejected?
Whatever the reason for a visa refusal, official consular fees are non-refundable.
Do I need an HIV test to enter Russia?
If you are planning to stay in Russia for over 90 days (on a student or employment visa), you must obtain an HIV test certificate. You may be asked to display it to a medical officer at a Russian border checkpoint.
NB: A person can enter Russia on a student or work visa only after five days have elapsed since the HIV test certificate has been issued.
Will I need medical insurance?
It is advisable to have valid medical insurance for your stay in Russia. Check your medical insurance and request such coverage, if you do not have it.
Where can I register my visa?
Your Russian visa may be registered at the reception desk of the hotel or hostel where you are staying, or by the host company or person if you are renting an apartment (or staying in private accommodation with friends or a family).
I intend to stay in Russia for two days. Should I register my visa?
If you are going to stay in Russia for less than seven days, there is no need to register your visa. However, it is advisable to keep copies of tickets, hotel bills, and itineraries in order to prove compliance with the law.
How long will it take me to register my Russian visa?
If you are staying in a hotel or a hostel, your visa will be registered immediately on arrival. If you are renting an apartment, the procedure might take a day or so.
I have not registered my visa within 7 working days upon arrival in Russia. What should I do?
If your visa has not been registered within 7 working days, you should ensure your visa sponsor (hotel, tour company, relative, employer, or university) registers you as soon as possible, otherwise you could experience problems when trying to re-enter Russia. You and your host are also obliged to pay a fine of RUB 2,000–5,000 (for private hosts) and RUB 400,000 (for companies) for non-compliance with the law.
Does a child need to register?
Children under 18 years of age need to register.
NB: In all cases a migration card must be completed for each traveller entering Russia, including children under 18.
CROSSING THE BORDER
Whom should I contact if I’m not allowed to leave Russia at passport control?
Contact your host. Under Russian law, every foreign traveller must have a Russian-based sponsor, whether it is a hotel, tour company, relative, employer, university, etc. Even if your visa was obtained through your local travel agent, you will find your legal Russian sponsor’s name indicated on the visa. Russian law requires that the sponsor must apply on the traveller’s behalf for replacement of, extension of, or changes to a Russian visa.