Do you need a visa to go to Russia?
Citizens of the United States are required to obtain a visa in advance prior to any trip to Russia. Though there are a few exceptions in the case of cruises to Saint Petersburg and transiting through Moscow, for the most part a Russian visa is a bureaucratic hurdle for a trip to the largest country on Earth. What can you do to make this process easier?
Russian Visa Requirements for US Citizens
Americans may find the visa process for visiting Russia a bit annoying, to say the least. While countries like Vietnam and Cambodia do require a visa to be obtained in advance, websites are available for e-visa purchases. Russia has yet to offer this, as the requirements are more complicated. Travel Visa Pro provides this information in another article that can be found here to fill out the application form, which must be printed and handed over in person.
As with many other countries, all visitors must have their passport valid for at least six months and with at least two blank pages, two passport-sized photos, and two copies of the visa application form. However, tourists to Russia usually have to register their trip with an official travel agency, which can provide a detailed itinerary and list the specific cities and addresses for each night of your stay. Independent travel is somewhat allowed in Russia, but hotel reservations must be confirmed before applying for a visa.
Where to Apply for a Russian Visa
The Russian government sanctions five visa centers based in San Francisco, Washington DC, New York City, Houston, and Seattle, where Travel Visa Pro has offices. Should you be considering a Russian visa, contact one of these offices. The nearest one to you is preferable, but if you’re transiting through one of these cities en route to Moscow, we may be able to arrange a local pickup. Because these visa centers deal exclusively with visa processing, there would be less of a wait time without Russian citizen services. However, there is an additional fee for using a visa center: $33.
Types of Visas to Russia
Tourist Visa: Single, double, and multiple entry visas (generally not available for US citizens traveling there for the first time) are available for visiting Russia as a tourist for up to three months. See the requirements listed above.
Homestay Visa: Instead of providing a travel itinerary, applicants must have their hosts obtain a visa entitlement certificate from the local OVIR (Office of Visas and Registration) in Russia. The original must be submitted with all the aforementioned documents to obtain a homestay visa.
Transit Visa: Because the country spans such a large area, single and double entry visas are available for transit through Russia for any transfer exceeding 24 hours up to 30 days. No additional paperwork is required other than the application form, passport photos, and itinerary, but if you plan on transiting to a country that requires a visa, you’ll need to have this ready to apply for the Russian transit visa. Even if you’re planning on transiting through Moscow for a few weeks with access to embassies, your passport needs to reflect your travel plans on arrival in Russia.
Business Visa: These visas to Russia are issued as three-year multiple entry for US citizens. In addition to all the standard paperwork, all applicants need to enclose a written statement from their host company or organization with detailed information.
Russian Visa Processing Time and Fees
Two types of processing are available for any Russian visa: 4-20 business days (standard), and 3 business days (expedited). In general, you should expect expedited processing to cost twice as much as standard. More about time frames can be found here.
Standard fees are listed below (subject to change based on the publication date):
Single-Entry Tourist and Transit Visas: $90
Double-Entry Tourist and Transit Visas: $144
Multiple-Entry Tourist and Business Visas: $270
If your passport has been replaced or renewed, the Russian government offers a visa replacement service for only $36, provided the visa has not yet expired. More info about Russian visa costs can be found here.
Travel Visa Pro and Visas to Russia
Travel Visa Pro was founded on facilitating the Russian visa process for business travelers. As a result, many of the staff across the country are experienced in expediting these applications and answering any questions you might have, from our founder to our travel experts in San Francisco. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of services like Executive Choice and Concierge Service.