Travel to Russia - questions and answers

Travel to Russia comes with lots of questions!!! Please click on the question and you will be taken to the answer below or just browse this section. If something is still not clear or if you have additional questions about your Russian trip, please contact us for help or contact your order manager.


For security reasons we prefer that people pay for our services with their own credit cards. However, it is possible to have someone else pay for you if this person fills in, signs and sends us a credit card authorization form (please, ask our managers to send you authorization form).
If you'd like to pay by bank transfer please contact us and we will send you an invoice with our bank details. All bank transfers should be made at least 21 days before your check-in date.
For tours, cruises, hotels, tickets and visas, we require 100% prepayment before arriving in Russia.


We can send you a visa invitation (sometimes called a voucher) - the main document that you need to apply for a Russian visa. The invitation is needed when you submit your visa application forms to the Russian Consulate in your country. For the application forms, see the visa section of our site where you can download them and learn more about the process of applying. You can either mail in the forms to a Full Visa Service Company or visit the Consulate in person. We can issue the visa invitation during 1-2 working days. If you need your visa invitation urgently, we can issue and send it to you on the same day. We usually send scanned versions of the invitations by email but can also send them by fax. Sometimes, Consulates in certain countries require the original invitation. In this case, we can mail you the original by Federal Express or by a cheaper but slower service (via Finland) called West Post. Please check with the Consulate to know if you need the original. Postage is an extra charge. Along with the Russian Visa invitation, US citizens can use the following documents to receive their visa: Confirmation of a hotel reservation, a contract for the provision of tourist services, confirmation of reception of the tourist. The above mentioned documents shall have the register number from the Uniform Federal Register of the Tour Operators of the Russian Federal Tourism Agency and the seal of the host organization.

Usually the documents consist of: your original passport, 1-2 passport photos, 1-2 Russian visa application forms, an HIV test if you are applying for a business visa (tourist visa applications do not require this) and of course, the visa invitation (voucher) - this is the document that we can supply you with. However, to be 100% sure of what documents are necessary at specific Consulates, we suggest that you contact the Consulates directly. You can find a listing of phone numbers and addresses on this website
Yes, you can make an order on our web-site in advance. Our tourist visa invitation will be valid for more than 6 months (with business invitations, we can only issue you a visa within 45 days of your planned arrival in Russia). But it is important that you actually apply to the Consulate within 4 months of your arrival in Russia – for example, trying to apply at the Consulate 6 months in advance is usually a problem.
If you are applying in the country of your citizenship, the invitation copy will be enough in most cases (there are exclusions, for ex. Taiwan, fax copy in France, etc.), but please check with the Consulate first as they might have slightly different rules by region. You can find a listing of Consulate phone numbers and addresses on this website
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
It is only possible to apply for a Russian visa in the country of your citizenship or in the country where you have a residency permit valid for longer than 90 days. Therefore, if you are planning a long journey, you should always apply for the Russian visa before you leave. Applying in a different country may cause problems, for example, the original invitation might be required. We always recommend contacting the Consulate first to confirm if you are allowed to apply there and obtain the list of specific documents you will need to submit your application.

Please note, that all foreigners staying in Russia for more than 7 working days, excluding holidays and weekends, must have their Russian visas registered for the entire period of their stay. You must register on the day of your arrival or you may be required to pay fines or may experience trouble when leaving the country.

No, you need to register only in case you are staying in Russia for more than 7 business days.
The confirmation number is the number of your voucher (invitation), you can find in on the top of the document.
The invitation that we send to you is comprised of a tourist voucher and a reservation confirmation (all in one document). This document can only be issued by a Russian travel agency registered with Rosturism (Federal Tourism Agency). It satisfies the requirements of the Russian Consulate.
Once you have received your Russian Visa, no cities are stated there, so you can travel almost anywhere in Russia, except to restricted areas (closed cities and regions)
Unfortunately we do not issue visa invitations to citizens of certain countries. Please check the list under the price table.
This option is available for USA citizens only. If you are traveling for tourism or if you do not want to receive a business or private visa, you can still receive a standard tourist invitation letter (up to 30 days) and then use this to apply for a long-term 36-month tourist visa. Please check with the Consulate in the USA for more information.
If you did not choose your accommodation yet or are planning to stay with friends, please state any name of a hotel or just "hotel" in this field. We will choose the hotel for you. Please note that according to Russian law, a hotel reservation for the entire period of your stay is required for a tourist visa. Usually this rule is just a formality (and an invitation with a hotel name is enough), but some Consulates take it very seriously (for ex. in Sweden) and in this case, we recommend that you to have a real hotel booking. Once you obtain your Russian Visa you can stay elsewhere.
Please note that we always send an invitation within the requested period. If you have not received the email, please check your spam folder and contact us by chat, email or phone.


The hotel confirmation voucher that our company sends to you and your passport are enough. The most important information in your voucher is the confirmation number. So even if you don't have a voucher but know the confirmation number, this is usually enough. However, please note that many mini-hotels in St. Petersburg do not issue reservation numbers, in this case, use your first and last name.
We can either send it to you by email (as an attached file) or by fax – original hotel confirmations are not needed, copies are fine. For visa invitations, if the original is needed, we can mail it to you by FedEx or West Post (a slower service that works via Finland).
Unfortunately this is not possible. Only one person can be accommodated in a single room. This room is intended for single use only.
In some hotels this is possible but not in all of them – this is a situation very specific to Russia. Please ask us in the comments section of your inquiry form and we will do our best but in Russia, it is not guaranteed.


You will be met by a driver holding a sign with your name on it. If you arrive on an international flight, you will be met at the airport exit. If you arrive by train you will be met near your carriage (you should tell us the number of the carriage) or at the head of the train if you have not indicated your carriage.
Airport pickup: The driver will wait for free up to 1 hour. Usually this time is enough to get through the customs and to collect the luggage. If wait is more than 1 hour for each additional half hour 6 EURO will be charged. Train Station pickup: The driver will wait for free up to half an hour. If the wait is more than half an hour, for each additional half hour, 6 EURO will be charged. Pick up from Apartment or Hotel: The driver will wait for free up to 15 minutes. If wait is more than 15 minutes, for each additional half hour, 6 EURO will be charged. The driver will wait up to 2 hours. If the client does appear within this time frame or does not for any other reasons use the ordered transfer services at the time specified in the order, the order will be considered fulfilled and no refund will be available. Cancellation of transportation must be advised not less than 3 working days before the date of execution.

Train Tickets

For Electronic tickets, customer must send a request for a refund of ticket at least 3 business days before the train departure date.

For Paper tickets, customer must send a request for a refund of ticket at least 5 business days before the train departure date. The physical, paper tickets must be in one of our company's offices (Moscow or Saint Petersburg) for a refund to be processed. Otherwise, the tickets will be non-refundable. Paper tickets on the routes China-Mongolia-China, Mongolia-Russia and China-Russia are 100% non-refundable.

All cancellations and refunds for tickets are subject to a fee equal to 30% of the ticket price but not lower than 20 USD per ticket.

Train tickets under 20 USD are non-refundable.

To receive reimbursement for tickets canceled at the train station customer must send a copy of the receipt to our company's email. Amount stated at the receipt will be refunded to the customer according to current RUB/USD or RUB/EUR exchange rate.

Because of the policies of the Russian Railroads, ticket sales for trains within Russia open 90 days before the trip, and ticket sales for international trains open 60 days before the trip. For certain countries the sales opening date may differ. In order to increase the likelihood of obtaining the tickets we suggest paying for the tickets in advance. We will then do our best to issue you your tickets on the sales opening date. In a very unlikely event, that train tickets are sold out in advance wholesale, we will help you obtain tickets on an alternative train or make you a full refund depending on what you request.
In case there is a change in price we will return the difference to you or may require that you pay more. In case you don't accept the new price we will issue full refund.

Ticket exchange fee is 20 USD for electronic tickets. If price of new tickets is higher, you will also have to pay the price difference. Ticket exchange request has to be submitted no less that 3 business days before the trip.

Please, be advised that price depends on the season and to check the prices we need to know your departure date.

1st class is a 2-berth compartment and 2nd class is a 4-berth compartment. 2nd class in Europe international trains is a 3-berth compartment.

Tickets with meals are available on almost all trains. But tickets with and without meals have different prices. If you require meals, you need to book these tickets specifically.

All train shcedules on our website show local times. 

According to the Russian Railroads policy, if you want to travel in private cabin, you should buy all 4 tickets.

According to the Russian Railroads policy, an adult passenger may be accompanied only by one infant (0-4) without a seat. If one adult is accompanied by more than one infant, only one infant will travel for free and the others will be offered a 30% discount and will be given a seat. Children of 5-9 years are offered a 30% discount and are given a seat. Child policy on international routes may differ. Please, contact us for details.

Only a few trains have showers in the cabin. These cabins are called "Deluxe", Luxury or VIP cabins. Please, specify in the comments that you need these facilities and your order manager will check availability and prices.

The Russian Railroads do not offer any flexible tickets with stopovers. If you would like to make stopovers during your trip, you must buy tickets for each leg of your trip.

Both tickets are electronic and you will receive them by email. E-tickets are tickets on trains on which electronic registration is available. You don't need to exchange them to paper tickets on the train station. You need to print out the e-ticket and show it with your passport to the conductor when you board the train. Semi e-tickets are available only on trains within Russia on which electronic registration is not available. You must exchange them to paper tickets on the train station.

Many trains within Russia have at least one carriage with gender sensitive compartments. You may travel in a female/male compartments if tickets are available. NOTE: several trains to Europe have only gender-sensitive compartments. Mixed compartments are not available.

Yes, you will need to obtain a Belorussian or Mongolian transit visa. Please contact the Consulate to inquire about the requirements on how to receive the visa.

Passengers are allowed to transport pets in the 2nd and 3rd class carriages and sitting carriages of long-distance trains belonging to JSC "Federal Passenger Company" (subsidiary of JSC "Russian Railways") and operating on the territory of Russian Federation. Animals must be transported in special containers (boxes, baskets) of certain size: sum of three dimensions shouldn't exceed 180 cm. Container should be placed in the space reserved for hand luggage inside the cabin. Besides permitted hand luggage (36 kg) passenger can carry a maximum of two animals occupying no more than one luggage space. Animal owners must have appropriate veterinary documents and comply with the order and cleanliness in the carriage. Transportation fee for animals is charged separately, amount depends on the route length. For the moment tickets of these classes are sold only in ticket-offices located at train stations. Guide-dogs can be transported in all types of carriages free of charge.


No, airfare is not included. You can easily book the discount tickets yourself through our own discount internet ticket office. The airline tickets we offer are the cheapest available on the web. Please browse our discount air tickets section to learn more.
Express to Russia organizes not only group tours but individual ones as well. So the tour can be organized individually and it can be customized according to individual preferences and can start on any day that you prefer.
Our company does not provide travel insurance. It can be provided only by a local insurance company (registered in your country).
Unfortunately, it is not possible. All our tours and excursions need to be paid in full and in advance, since we have to pre-book museum tickets, guides and drivers and we pay penalties when there are cancellations.
Unfortunately, only a few museums in Russia are equipped with special ramps. We regret to say that museums and roads in Russia are not very wheelchair friendly. However, we can try to organize tours for physically challenged people and provide our customers with wheelchairs if necessary.
The decision to tip or not is always up to you and it does not matter if you tip daily or at the end of the trip. You should tip only if you are satisfied with the service. We would say that a 10-20 USD per day for the guide and 5-10 USD per day for the driver is appropriate.
Yes, booking a tour with us helps to avoid long lines. Museum tickets are usually pre-booked for a specific date and time. Sometimes (especially in the summer or during school vacation periods) museums can be very crowded, in this case you might need to wait a little bit.
It is possible to do so on request. You can ask your customer service manager to provide you with a tour price quote including only the services that you are interested in.
We offer different types of excursions. Some of them are walking tours and here we include guide service and entrance fee to the museums if there are visits to museums. If you choose excursions with transport, car and driver service are included as well as guide service and entrance fee.
Package tour price includes accommodation with breakfasts at the hotel, arrival and departure transfers, excursions according to the tour program, additional accident insurance (please note that this is not the insurance required by Russian Consulates to issue you a visa, it is additional Russian insurance in case of problems while in Russia), train tickets Moscow – St. Petersburg if it is a tour that combines both of these cities. However you should check what is included in the price of each individual tour by referring to the specific tour page or by asking your customer service manager because sometimes extras are included such as lunches, early check in, additional breakfast, etc.


No, airfare is not included. You can easily book the discount tickets yourself through our own discount internet ticket office. The airline tickets we offer are the cheapest available on the web. Please browse our discount air tickets section to learn more.

On most of the cruises, check-in is after 14:00, check-out is before 10:00. You can arrive earlier than 14:00 and wait for the check-in on board. You can depart later than 10:00 by leaving your cabin and waiting on board.

PLEASE NOTE: On 7-day Moscow - St. Petersburg and St. Petersburg - Moscow cruises, the ship departs Mosocw/St. Petersburg on the very first day and it is really important to arrive on board on time. Please check the program of your cruise. 

Check-in and check-out times are also indicated in your cruise confirmation document. 

On most of the cruises, there is no tour program planned for the first and the last days. Therefore, you can arrive in the evening and depart early in the morning without missing any tours. The only activities you will miss in this case are dinner on the first day and breakfast on the last day.

PLEASE NOTE: On 7-day Moscow - St. Petersburg and St. Petersburg - Moscow cruises, the ship departs Mosocw/St. Petersburg on the very first day and it is really important to arrive on board on time. Please check the program of your cruise. 

Yes, optional tours are offered on most of the cruises. You will learn about the options when you arrive on board. 

You will have a local English-speaking guide in each city you'll be touring and you will also have an English-speaking guide on board. Other languages are on request.

No, pets are not allowed on the cruise ships.

Excursions vary depending on the chosen cruise.  You can find a detailed itinerary on the individual page of each particular cruise. 

No, our cruises are non-dividable and provided as packages only.

"Green stop" is free time on the riverbank. At a green stop we offer active games, competitions and in many cases shashlyk (traditional Russian kebab) organized during each stop. You can also have a swim and in some places or order optional excursions.

No, it is not allowed to open portholes.
Combined. Russian and International.
Yes. Our cooks can adjust the menu to your needs. All you need is to tell us beforehand of your restrictions and identify yourself in the restaurant. We recommend you to stick to the same table in the restaurant. It will help the waitress remember about your food restrictions.
No. But you might want to dress up a little for the captain's welcome cocktail and the captain's farewell dinner. Also please keep in mind that during some excursions you will be taken to active churches and monasteries. To get inside men and women should not wear shorts, women also must have a kerchief or a scarf to cover their heads.

Unfortunately, no. Besides, most museums in Russia are also not equipped to handle tours for handicapped people

The size of the cabins varies, depending on the type of the ship, the cabin's category and the deck where the cabin is located. Average size of a standard cabin on 3-star and 4-star ships is 9-10 sq. m., on 5-star ships - 11-13 sq. m. To learn more please see the description of your motorship on our web-site.

No, unfortunately, this is now prohibited by Russian legislation. You can exchange money during the city tours in the larger cities (Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yaroslavl, Kostroma).
In Moscow and St. Petersburg both piers are outside the city center. In other cities, they are more central. In St. Petersburg,piers also depend on the ship.

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