The next question that the smart traveller going to Russia will ask after “How much money?” is “What about the visa?”
If you are travelling to Russia, you will most probably need to have a visa, although you should check with your local Russian Federation consulate whether there are any special visa conditions for your country. The Russian Federation has different visa agreements with different countries, which means the types of available visas, the amount of required documents and the length of available visas might differ depending on country.
A Russian visa can be organised by the travel company that is organising your tour or, if you building your travel plans individually, you must obtain it from your local Russian Consulate or Russian Embassy. There are several types of Visas depending on the purpose and duration of your stay in Russia. We have drafted a quick guide describing the various Russian visas available. Please note that the below is just a guideline and we recommend checking the rules and requirements with a visa agency or with the local Russian Consulate or Embassy.
Russian Tourist Visa
The Tourist Visa is issued to foreigners who have booked accommodation in Russia for non-business related reasons (meaning tourism). These kind of visas are usually issued for a maximum of 14 to 30 days (but please please check with your local Russian Embassy or Consulate). Usually application for a Tourist Visa requires aplicants to know exactly how long and where they will be staying (so you will need a confirned booking from your hotel for each night you will be in Russia).
Russian Private or Homestay Visa
If you are planning to visit your friends or relatives in Moscow you can apply for a homestay or visitors visa. This type of Visa will generally allow you to stay in Russia for up to 90 days. Relatives or friends who will be hosting your stay in Moscow will need to obtain a visa invitation for you from a local OVIR (office of visas and registrations). Russian Consulates worldwide accept only original OVIR invitations, therefore this official invitation must be mailed to you. Obtaining an OVIR invitation can be a very lengthy and troublesome procedure, so make sure you inform the inviting party about your trip well in advance.
Russian Business Visa
The Business Visa is issued for travelers visiting Russia for private business matters or for an official visit. Business visas are best for travelers who want to stay in Russia for longer than 30 days, need to enter Russia frequently or who don’t know exactly their itineraries. Business visas to the Russian Federation may be issued with up to two entries and for up to 90 days. There are also multiple-entry business visas valid for 6 or 12 months with unlimited entries/exits. Business Visa might require an invitation from the inviting business party, so please check with the rules at your local Russian Consulate or Embassy.
Russian Transit Visa
If you are traveling through Moscow to another country you must apply for a Russian transit visa. To obtain this you will need to present relevant documents to your local Russian Embassy or Consulate. These include an entry visa to the country of destination and a copy of the air, railway or other relevant ticket. If you cannot satisfy these requirements, then try to apply for a regular tourist visa instead. This Visa is usually needed for transit travelers going to other CIS countries through Russia.
Follow this link for a list of Russian Embassies and Consulates around the world