How to Apply for a Russian Visa, Essential Guide

Written by 56th Parallel

Worried about getting a Russian visa? Relax, we’ve got you covered. This article will take you through the visa process, with additional tips for a turbulence-free journey. You will be traversing the country with matryoshka, vodka and bears in no time!

1. Do I need a Russian visa?

First things first, do you even need a Russian visa? Unfortunately, the answer is probably “yes.” There are 40 nations exempt from visa, so if you’re still unsure, double-check with your local Russian consulate to find out whether your country requires a visa to enter Russia.

Visas are mandatory for most foreign nationals and the only real exception is if you are travelling on a cruise that happens to disembark on one of Russia’s ports. You can explore the Russian city you land in within an official tour group for up to 72 hours. However, you’ll need an official document from your travel provider showing your excursion.

Keep in mind that if you are exempt from visa, you still need to abide by the time frame you are allowed to visit for. Visit this website to find out more about the visa-free entry.

2. Picking the right Russian visa

There are 2 main types of Russian visas relevant to most travellers:

Tourist Visa: Valid for up to 30 days from the date of entry. This is the visa most travellers use.  

Business Visa: Over 30 days. (Can be 90 days, 6 months or up to 1 year). Despite its name, this Russian visa can be used on travel as well as business.

The business visa application process requires the help of a seasoned hand. Contact 56th Parallel if you plan to stay in Russia for longer than 30 days and you need a business visa.

There are also existing additional visas:

  • Private: Over 30 days. Issued to guests of a Russian friend or relative.
  • Student: Issued for studying in Russia. Extended for your period of study.
  • Work: Issued for working in Russia.
  • Humanitarian: Covers trips with a purpose i.e. humanitarian, religious, socio-political.
  • Transit: Covers maximum of 3 days (72 hours) Necessary for leaving the airport and stopovers in Russia over 24 hrs.

The 30-day length of the Tourist Visa will probably suffice for your visit; however, if you have any queries feel free to contact us.

3. Obtaining an official Russian visa invitation document

Example of an official letter of invitation

Also referred to as a visa support document or tourist voucher, a letter of invitation is vital to obtaining a Russian visa. It is an official form of documentation that grants you permission from the Russian government to apply for a visa.

Letters of invitation may be issued by a Russian person or organisation who has invited you to visit them… such as us!

Click here to apply for your letter of invitation.

Within less than 24 hours of submitting your application, you will be sent an e-mail containing your official Russian visa invitation document. Please note some countries are required to have an original version of the document, which can be sent to you by post. Check with your local Russian Consulate if you require an original copy.

4. Online application form

Once you have been emailed your Russian visa invitation, complete and print out an online visa application form. To fill this out, you’ll also need to know your travel dates, number of entries (single, double or multiple) and have your passport on hand.

You will not be able to finish this application without the confirmation/voucher number OR reference number contained in your letter of invitation.

Incomplete, incorrect forms and forms without a signature will be returned to the applicant unprocessed. Remember that it’s one form per person. No blank spaces must be left. If a question does not apply, please type “N/A”. If the answer is none, write “None”.

5. Applying for a Russian visa

Next, apply for a visa through your Russian Consulate. You can apply in person, through a representative or by post. Applying for an appointment on your local Russian Consulate website will make the process quicker.

Documents needed for a Russian visa application

  • A good quality copy of your Russian invitation documentation
  • Completed and signed Russian visa application form
  • One passport photograph of 3.5 by 4.5cm glued in the reserved place on your application form
  • Passport valid for at least 6 months after departure date from Russia
  • Consular fee (Check how much the fee is with your consulate, and what payment forms they accept)

Note: fees are paid upfront at the consulate. If you’re applying by post, you must enclose a pre-paid self-addressed envelope or courier airbill.

Options for visa processing times  

  • Normal processing time (usually):14 business days.
  • Expedited processing: 2 to 3 business days

Once lodged, you will be provided a date for visa and passport pickup from the consulate.

6. Registration

The last step is to register your arrival in Russia.

The purpose of this registry (which comes from the communist era) is to notify immigration authorities of the place where you will stay while you are in Russia. The registration must be done in each of the cities that you are going to visit. You will need to fill out another registration form. It’s not your obligation to register, but rather the hotel where you are staying or the host of the apartment where you are staying.

If you are staying in a hotel, when you arrive, the hotel itself will register your visa. They will ask you the passport with the visa and immigration card (the one you get at the border when you arrive in the country). If you will not stay in a hotel, but in a private house, then the Russian host is the one required to register his/her guest at a police station or at the post office. You don’t need to be present in the registry but you must provide your host with a copy of the first page of the passport, the visa and the immigration card. You may be charged a small fee for this procedure.

The accreditation registration is not required to leave the country, though the immigration card is required.

Online Russian Visa Invitation/Services

Now that you know the specifics, you should have a hassle-free visa process. To speed things up, 56th Parallel can provide you with a letter of invitation for your tourist or business visa. Click on the relevant blue links below:


Your Invitation document will be ready within less than 24hr, and sent to you via email. We provide single, double or multiple-entry invitations. Note: Some developing countries passport holders will attract a higher fee. Also if needed, an original copy of the invitation can be obtained for extra fees to cover shipment. The price will depend on the destination country.


Your business visa Invitation document will be ready within 14 working days and sent directly to the Russian consulate indicated by you, via TELEX. This option saves time and the high courier costs, as a business visa application requires the original invitation document to be presented upon application. We provide single or double entry business visa invitations. Note: developing countries passport holders will attract a higher fee.

Below, you’ll find services for people who want professionals to take care of the process:


We offer comprehensive visa application services for Australian citizens who prefer to leave the application process to the pros. A specialist will manage the entire process from start to finish, providing the expertise necessary to ensure your request is approved as quickly as possible. The service fee includes Consulate fees, visa invitation document and our concierge service. The standard processing time is 10-16 business days. Note: expedited and double-entry visas are available upon request for an additional fee.


We offer comprehensive business visa application services for Australian citizens who require a longer than a 30 day stay in Russia and prefer to leave the application process to the pro’s. A specialist will manage the entire process from start to finish, providing the expertise necessary to ensure your request is approved as quickly as possible. The service fee includes Consulate fees, business visa invitation document and our concierge service. The standard processing time is 10-16 business days. Note: expedited and double-entry visas are available upon request for an additional fee.

Important Additional Information

How early can I apply for my Russian visa?

When applying for a Tourist Visa, you can apply to the Russian Consulate no earlier than 90 days prior to your date of visit. However, you may obtain a letter of invitation and complete the application form earlier on.

Business Visas are different; you cannot begin any part of the application until 90 days prior to your trip.

Renewals and extensions

In most cases, there is no possibility of renewing or extending beyond the 30 days a Russian tourist visa allows for. You may not enter Russia before the visa starts and you must leave Russia before the visa expires. To allow for a change of plans, we suggest that you apply for the full 30 days from date of arrival. Therefore, you can then enter and leave Russia at any date within the specified period of your Russian visa.

In an emergency, you may need to obtain an exit visa from the federal migration service. Immigration officers understand that sometimes there are factors that cannot be controlled. You will be able to apply for an exit visa at the border or leave without any trouble at all if you have been unexpectedly hindered in any way.

Note: you will require proof by documentation for the reason of your visa extension.

What if I lose my passport?

Obviously, losing your passport is not ideal for traveling in any country. Losing your passport in Russia warrants the same steps as it would anywhere else. Make sure to report your loss or theft to your embassy and local police station to obtain an official document stating your visa was lost. You may also need to contact your home embassy and make arrangements for them to send or provide you with a new passport. For additional visa-related information click here.

From the team here at 56th Parallel, we wish you a wonderful trip! Don’t hesitate to call us on +61 2 93889816 or email with any questions you may have about your Russian visa application on [email protected].

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About 56th Parallel

56th Parallel is a travel company specialising in providing packaged tours and travel services in Russia.

Our goal is to redefine travel to Russia, focusing on creating the most rewarding experiences, which help travellers unfolds the soul of this exciting destination.



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