Real Russia Blog

5 reasons why you should apply for your visa before you travel

5 reasons why you should apply for your visa before you travel

Applying for your visa before you travel is essential for a seamless and stress-free journey

Applying for your visa before you travel is essential for ensuring that your journey is simple and stress-free. As with any trip, problems can occur if you are not fully prepared, and with visas, there can be many issues that you could encounter along the way that could either delay the process or see your visa application denied.

We have hand-picked a few of the most important reasons why applying for your visa in advance can make a world of difference.

What is a visa?

A visa is an official document issued by a country's consulate or embassy that allows the user entry into that country.

Why do I need a visa?

Travellers looking to visit another country will likely require a visa to enter that country legally. The importance of applying for your visa before you travel.

1) It may not possible to get your visa from the border

First and foremost, it simply may not be possible for you to obtain your visa once you have arrived in the country you are planning to visit. While certain countries may allow you to obtain your visa at the border, many don’t unless under emergency circumstances.

2) Visa applications can be denied

One of the main reasons for obtaining your visa before travelling is that your visa application could be denied. If this happens and you leave it too close to the time you plan to travel, then you may not be able to receive your visa before you go. Visas can be denied for a variety of reasons including:

  • You have applied for the wrong type of visa – This is fairly common. All travellers are expected to include their reasons for visiting a country if this does not appear to match up to the type of visa the user has applied for then your entry may be denied. With this in mind, we would always recommend checking the specific details connected to a visa before you make your choice, as this is often unchangeable and may require you to make a new application if incorrect.
  • Mistakes on the application – This can include anything from name typos, your passport photo being too old, or incorrect passport numbers. While one mistake may not affect this, if you have consistent mistakes through your visa application then it increases the chance that your application will be denied for having incorrect details.
  • Your profession raises suspicion – Although less common, some professions including military and journalism may be held under scrutiny in certain countries. For example, if you have not made prior arrangements to visit a country for making a documentary then your access to the country may be denied without more information.

3) You may need to make changes to your visa application

Following on from the previous point, if you have made mistakes on your visa application, you may need to make a brand-new application if these are too severe. Not only does this cost you money in processing fees and delivery charges, but this will also cost you time. We would always advise leaving plenty of time to make a new visa application AND have this re-delivered in the case of changes.

4) Obtaining your visa in advance can affect the price

While this may not affect the actual cost of the visa application, having the option to use standard processing and delivery can cut costs. If you leave your visa application to the last minute you will require express delivery and more expensive processing options.

5) Reduces pre-travel stress

Perhaps the most important reason for applying for your visa before travelling is that it is far less stressful. With all the potential problems that could occur along the way, it makes sense to complete your visa application as soon as you can, you don’t want to run the risk of being turned away at the border.

There are many things you need to think about when planning your trip, don’t make your visa one of them!

Obtaining your visa with Real Russia

Real Russia offers a simple and straightforward visa service that will help you with all the necessary details you need to process your visa application; covering a variety of destinations including Russia, Mongolia, China, Belarus, Kazakhstan and more! By applying for your visa with us, we can make sure that you have all the right documents, that your application is free of errors, and is on time. In addition to our visa application service, we have full online support as well as offices in London and Moscow should you have any questions or concerns.

Real Russia Blog

Top 10 Most Desired Winter Journeys – Part 1

Top 10 Most Desired Winter Journeys – Part 1

As the summer comes to a close, and the long nights draw in, it is only natural to think of travel; visiting more exotic, or unusual, places to take a break from it all. Why not journey along the thousands of miles of rail track throughout Russia and beyond? From the comfort of a sleeper cabin, or the catered luxury of a dining car, travelling by train gives you the opportunity to see landscapes that you could never dream of seeing by air or road.

At this point, you may be asking, ‘…with so many wonderful journeys to choose from, where should I go first?’ In order to give you some ideas, we have looked into the journeys our Real Russia customers were interested in taking last winter, and have created a ‘'Top 10'’ for the most popular routes; highlighting points of interest along the way, and upon arrival.

10 Moscow to Ulan Bator

Ger Camps in Ulan Bator

What to see along the way?

Where to start? On a long journey such as this there are countless sights to take in. Look out for the boundary between Europe and Asia, marked by a monument, 1,777km east of Moscow, take in the awesome sight of the Ob River in Novosibirsk and relax as you watch the largest freshwater lake in the world, Lake Baikal, pass by between Irkutsk and Ulan-Ude.

What to do upon arrival?

  • Take a trip to visit a nomadic family for the day. You will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in how a nomadic family lives in, and around, Ulan-Bator, experiencing their culture as you dine with them and spend your day as one of the family.

  • Take a walking tour of the city. You can spend a full day discovering the delights of the city by traveling on foot, including the Choijin Lama Buddhist Monastery, which dates back to the 18th century, or the National History Museum with hundreds of Mongolian artefacts. If the full day seems a touch too long, why not just go for the morning.

9 Moscow to Berlin

Grunewald Forest

What to see along the way?

Of the four countries that you will pass through, the four capital cities, are the highlights of this journey; Moscow , Minsk (Belarus), Warsaw (Poland) and finally Berlin.

What to do upon arrival?

  • Take a stroll in the Grunewald Forest to see the man-made hill that offers an astonishing view of Berlin amongst the charming fields, trees and flowers.

  • Shop in Mauer Park, a real favourite among the locals. With market stalls and a flea market, you will have a great chance to really get to know the locals in Berlin in a natural and thrilling environment.

8 Ulan Bator to Beijing

Houhai Lake, Beijing

What to see along the way?

Your journey between Ulan Bator and Beijing will encompass many incredible vistas, chief among these is the Gobi desert, home to the Gobi Bear, the Bactrian Camel and the Gold Eagle. Before pulling into Beijing do not forget to look out for one of history’s greatest architectural achievements, the Great Wall of China.

What to do upon arrival?

  • Join the ShiChaHai Lake Bike Tour at Houhai Lake, where you can enjoy the traditional Chinese stone lions that overlook the bridge of the lake, and see the willow trees that rest between the edge of the water and a traditional Chinese house.

  • Pay a visit to an Evening Acrobatic Show that features the extraordinary balance and agility of Chinese acrobats. Their skills showcase a mixture of gymnastic skills, circus acts, martial arts and ballet; this show offers something for everyone to enjoy.

7 Moscow to Irkutsk

Frozen over Lake Baikal, Irkutsk

What to see along the way?

Passing through much of Siberia, the list of things to see is endless. One city to take note of, though, is Tyumen, built on the banks of the Tura River; the first city to be built in Siberia.

What to do upon arrival?

  • Get on board the Circum-Baikal Railway, a charming Russian railway that transports you around the shoreline of Lake Baikal; the world’s largest natural fresh water resource. Lake Baikal contains 20% of the earth's freshwater, and is teeming with an array of endemic life, such as Baikal seals, also known as nerpa. In the winter, Lake Baikal entirely freezes over making it a popular tourist destination for ice fishing and ice skating.

  • Visit a local Buryat Shaman and take the opportunity to learn about the inspiring Buryat culture that carry out fascinating rituals and serve traditional authentic food to their guests; helping you to become fully immersed in the community.

6 Berlin to Moscow

Christ our Saviour Cathedral, Moscow

What to see along the way?

Between Berlin and Moscow you will cross four separate countries across Eastern Europe. This will give you the chance to take in a great many sights, such as the Vistula River, the longest and largest river in Poland, while travelling through Warsaw.

What to do upon arrival?

  • Why not enjoy a city tour encompassing sights such as Novodevichy Covent & St Basil’s Cathedral. Visit two of Moscow’s essential classics, as well as other memorable sights such as the Kremlin, the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour and Moscow State University, taking a stroll up Sparrow Hills in the process for an astonishing panoramic view of Moscow.

  • There are many different ways to view the city, including Moscow’s Metro, Arbat Street, the Kremlin and the Armoury uncovering the depths of Moscow’s heritage. Visit the 19th century armoury that holds Russia’s state treasures and finery, absorb the beauty of Moscow’s delightful Metro (with stations that would not look out of place hosting ballet recitals or opera performances!), as well as indulge in shopping at traditional Russia craft stalls on Arbat Steet.

… Please click to see the final Top 5 routes on part 2 of our blog!…

It is important to remember that these are not the only routes available and, as we have customers who book with us, a wide variety of journeys; travelling all the way from Paris to Beijing and down into South East Asia.

If any of these journeys pique your interest, visit our live train schedules or our ticket booking page to take your first step towards a winter adventure!

Alternatively, create your own adventure, the possibilities are endless!

Real Russia Blog

Mongolian and Kazakhstan visa-free regime

Mongolian and Kazakhstan visa-free regime

It has been an exciting few weeks for travel in Eastern Europe, with new lower cost travel opportunities being opened up to travelers.

Both the Kazakhstan and Mongolian governments have announced they have introduced a trial visa-free regime in these regions for citizens in many countries. This is primarily to encourage business to these areas, though will also promote a further positive impact on the tourism market too!

In Kazakhstan the visa-free regime has been introduced to 10 countries, for passport holding citizens travelling on tourist and business purposes for up to 15 calendar days. This type of entry is permitted between the 15th July 2014 and 15th July 2015. Please click here to see the full article, with further details including the list of 10 countries permitted for this type of entry.

In Mongolia the visa-free entry has been introduced to 42 countries, for passport holding citizens travelling on tourist and business purposes for up to 30 calendar days. This type of entry is permitted between the 25th June 2014 and 31st December 2015. Please click here to see the full article, with further details including the list of 42 countries permitted.

For both Mongolia and Kazakhstan, this will initially be a trial period and then each country will decide, independently, whether the scheme should continue beyond these dates. We will keep you updated with any extensions to this scheme as they are announced.

The news is great for travelers interested in our Trans-Mongolian tours, as it will reduce the cost of this route by £94 – a massive saving! In all cases, where Mongolia is included as part of the tour, it will mean one less visa will be required for your trip, which can only be a good thing in terms of budgeting for your travel arrangements!

If you would like to arrange a tour, or would like advice from one of our travel specialists, please get in contact with our travel team who will be happy to help.

Real Russia Blog

Easter bank holidays

Easter bank holidays

As Easter approaches, this often means that we are exposed to reduced visa lodgement and visa processing capabilities due to the bank holidays.

On the 29th March and 1st April 2013, postal services will not be operating – which means that we are unable to receive any documents or passports and unable to send these back to our clients. To try to help with this reduced service, our London office will be kept open between 9am and 12pm for application submissions and passport collections.

In terms of consulate operating times, the Chinese consulate will be closed on the 29th March and the 1st April 2013; meaning that there will be no application submission or collection on these dates, plus, any applications submitted before this period will take an extra two days to process. The Russian, Mongolian and Belarusian consulates however will