All foreigners visiting Russia require a Russian visa. In order to receive one, travelers need a Russian visa invitation from a Russian citizen or a company (sometimes called a voucher for tourist visas), which is then taken to a Russian Consulate, where the actual visa is issued. Russian visa processing fees vary according to the applicant's citizenship and the Russian Consulate applied to.
Within seven working days of arrival in Russia, the visa should be registered by the person or organization that issued the invitation either at a hotel or at a local registration office (UFMS). Registration is important because people lacking registration may have trouble leaving the country.
A Russian tourist visa is good for stays of up to 30 days. Although technically, a Russian hotel should issue the invitation only if the guest will actually stay at the hotel for the dates indicated, many tourist agencies will still issue the invitation and assist with Russian visa registration although the guest has not stayed at the hotel. In order to apply for this type of visa, the Consulate requires your passport which must be valid for six months or more after the date of your return from Russia. There should also be at least 2 clean, unstamped pages within the passport to place the visa on. For a full list of documents, please see the section applying for a Russian visa. Order Russian tourist visa invitation.
Russian transit visas are very convenient. Single-entry visas are issued for up to 3 days when traveling by plane and 10 days by car or train. Double-entry transit visas are valid for up to 30 days. Traveler has to provide a valid visa or passport of destination country and a copy of travel tickets. Transit visas may be a good option for people just passing through Russia with the final destination being China or Central Asia. In case passenger doesn't leave airport transit zone to make a connecting flight and his flight is within 24 hours from his arrival, transit visa is not required. Travelers flying over Russian territory without changing planes do not need a visa.
Russian Visas for US citizens
In accordance with the Agreement between the Russian Federation and the United States of America on the simplification of visa formalities for nationals of the Russian Federation and the United States of America effective September 9, 2012, US citizens shall as a rule be issued multiple-entry business, private, humanitarian and tourist visas for a stay of no more than 6 months starting from the date of each entry. The visas shall be valid for three years (36 months) from the date of issue of the visa. You can download the new Agreement and updates on Russian visa requirements
Besides the 3 most popular types of Russian visas listed above there are also diplomatic visas, student visas and visas that can be issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the spot. Student visas are very flexible, allow long stays and also allow the visitor to purchase Russian theater, airplane, museum and train tickets at prices that are frequently below the normal cost. The obstacle to being issued a Russian student visa is that the visitor must be enrolled in a Russian institution of higher learning (university, college, etc.). The administration of the college or university can assist the applicant in the receipt of such a visa to Russia. Diplomatic visas are only issued for Foreign State Department workers. On the spot Russian visas are almost never available.
EU (European Union) and Israel citizens are required to provide a copy of their health insurance policy card, along with their policy documents that is valid in the Russian Federation for the visa period, except for countries covered by bilateral agreements. If you are not EU citizens, then please ask visa center operators whether you require medical insurance. Your policy must include information about clinics covered in Russia. US citizens are not required to have health insurance in order to apply for visa.
If Children are traveling on their parent’s passport they do not require a separate Russian visa but Children traveling on their own passports must apply for and be issued a separate Russian visa. If children are traveling with people other than their parents they will also need a notarized statement from their parents confirming that the parents have given the children permission to travel without them. If the last name of the child differs from the parents a copy of the child’s birth certificate should be included in the travel documents.
Russian law requires that travelers register their visas if they are staying in Russia for more than 7 business days. If travelers are staying in Russia more than 7 business days they should apply for the registration immediately upon arrival. Travelers who do not have their visas registered are required to pay fines when they attempt to exit Russia or if they are stopped by police in the street. If you are staying in a hotel, the hotel will register your visa. If you are staying in an apartment you will have to apply to a local migration department (UFMS) to have your visa registered.
Immigration cards are issued to foreigners at entry points to Russia. They are part of additional measures by the Russian government to keep track of foreigners during their time in Russia. The cards have 2 identical sections where contact details, document numbers, visa number and other information are entered. One part of the document is kept by the passport control people at the entry point and another part should be retained by the visitor throughout his or her stay in Russia. On exiting the country, the other half is given to the passport control people at the border.
If you are a Facebook user, we invite you to become a fan of our company on Facebook and read Russian news and travel stories. On this page, you can also learn more about our tours, get special offers and read reviews from our past customers. To become a fan, click here.
We also just launched our own Russian Travel, Culture and Literature Club on Facebook. The club was created to be a place for everyone with an interest in Russia to get to know each other and share experiences, stories, pictures and advice. Here you will also learn about interesting events taking place in Russia, lectures on Russian culture, Russian language lessons with native speakers and more. To join our club, please follow this link.