How to apply for a Russian visa in 3 easy steps

Written by Michael Schneider

Presenting: your comprehensive guide to obtaining a Russian Visa. Read on to uncover the 3 simple steps needed to begin your next adventure in Russia.

For some reason or another, people have the idea in their head that it is difficult to get a Russian visa. Do not threat! Your researching has finally come to an end; you can now relax in knowing that we have got you covered. You will be traversing the country with matryoshka, vodka and bears in no time!

First things first, do you even need a Russian Visa?

Unfortunately, the answer is probably ‘yes’, unless you happen to be from one of the ex-Soviet states… We suggest that you double-check with your local Russian consulate whether your country requires a visa to enter Russia. Or visit this website to check if you are obligated to apply for it.

So, now that it is established that you probably need a visa, there are 2 main types of Russian visa which are relevant to you. As a vacationer you will need to apply for a tourist visa, this visa will be valid for up to 30 days from the date of entry into Russia. However, if you are planning to travel in Russia for longer than 30 days you may need to apply for a business visa. This 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.

Follow the next 3 steps to acquire a Russian tourist visa:

Step 1 – Letter of Invitation

Before anything else, you need to get your hands on a letter of invitation. These are often referred to as visa support document or tourist voucher. Basically, this is an official form of documentation that grants you permission from the Russian government to apply for a visa.

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 all needed documentation. Please note, some countries are required to have an original version of the document, which can be sent to you by post. Check the list fo the document required with your local Russian Consulate.

Step 2 – Online Application

Once you have been emailed your invitation, all you have to do is complete an online visa application form. Feel free to start this application whilst waiting for your letter of invitation, but please keep in mind, that you will not be able to finish this application without the certain information, contained in your letter of invitation.

Remember to bring or mail the following to the consulate:

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

If you’re applying by post, you must enclose a pre-paid self-addressed envelope or courier air bill. Be sure to use a delivery service that includes tracking so you can monitor the arrival of your precious documents!

From here, there is nothing more you need to do before your departure. Just wait for your visa to be promptly processed and returned.

Step 3 – Registration

The 3rd step is to register your arrival in Russia, this is done simply by filling out an immigration card which is either given out on the flight or at the passport control gate on arrival. This card acts as both your entry and exit ticket into the beautiful country of Russia, so remember to keep it safe throughout your travels.

As a general rule, you need to register upon entering any new city or hotel. This usually is taken care of by the hotel staff upon check-in, just remember to provide them with the required documents.

Some things to consider

Visas are mandatory for most foreign nationals and the only real exception is if you are traveling on a cruise that happens to disembark on one of Russia’s ports – where you will be free to explore the Russian city you land in for up to 72 hours.

For most cases, there is no possibility of renewing or extending beyond the 30 days a Russian tourist visa allows for. Due to this, it is highly recommended to stay only within the parameters set by the dates of your 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 can not 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.

What if I lose my passport?

Obviously, losing your passport is not ideal 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 you a new passport. For additional visa related information click here.

From the team here at 56th Parallel, we wish you a wonderful trip! Do not hesitate to call or email with any questions you may have about your Russian visa application on

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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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