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

All you need to know about applying for a Russian visa in 2019

All you need to know about applying for a Russian visa in 2019

Make applying for a Russian visa a simple and stress-free process

Applying for a Russian visa can be a daunting process. I’m sure many of you have thought to yourself: What type of visa do I need? How much will it cost? What documents should I use? Along with many more. The truth is that visa application processes are constantly reviewed, changed, edited . . . So, keeping up with the latest information can be tricky. With this, we always recommend keeping up to date with the process for your region if you are planning to travel.

In this post, we aim to dispel some of the pre-visa application angst and will go over what you need to know when applying for a Russian visa in 2019. To do this, we shall explore some of the most common questions concerning the visa application process.

What is a visa?

In simple terms, a visa is a document that allows the holder to enter, leave or stay in a country for a specified time period. There are many types of visa available from standard tourist visas to professional business visas, the visa you need will depend on the purpose of your visit.

Russian Visa Example

Why is it important to have a visa?

Visas are legal documents that permit a user to travel to a specified country. They essentially indicate that permission has been given from the government to legally enter and exit the country. They also act as proof of citizenship. Without a visa (or if you have the wrong type of visa), it is possible for border to control to deny entry into a country.

Is a Russian visa hard to get?

Russian visas are no more difficult to get than any other type of visa, although there are many factors to consider such as the country of origin, whether you have the right documents, whether you have a criminal record, and how long you have allowed yourself to get a visa.

What are the main types of Russian visa?

Tourist visa – A standard tourist visa for Russia. This visa covers the user when traveling to Russia for holiday purposes. There are variations of Russian tourist visas such as, auto-tourist and business tourist which can be used for travelling Russia by vehicle, short business trips, exhibitions and meeting conferences. A business tourist visa is often used when you do not have enough time to acquire a full business visa as getting an official Russian letter of invitation can take time.

Business visa – A Russian business visa is designed for individuals looking to travel to Russia strictly for business purposes such as exhibitions, establishing business connections and negotiations.

There are many other types of visa, such as a visa for those wishing to compete in sporting competitions in Russia, but for most people a tourist or business visa will be the preferred choice.

Passports, Visas & Travel Documents

When should I get my Russian visa?

This will largely depend on the type of visa you are requesting, which part of Russia you are travelling to and your nationality. It usually takes between 4 – 21 working days to get your visa depending upon the type that you need. We of course recommend allowing yourself enough time to not only receive the visa, but also to make any corrections or changes to the visa in case of a change in circumstances.

Can I get a Russian visa at the border?

No, unfortunately it is not possible to obtain a visa at the Russian border, therefore it is important that you apply for your Russian visa ahead of time. There are certain exceptions however, for example, you can visit St. Petersburg visa free if you are on a boat for less than 3 days, therefore you would not need a visa in advance.

Can I get a Russian visa online?

It is possible to purchase an E-Visa for Russia although this is only available for selected regions and nationalities. Unfortunately, it is not currently possible to buy an E-Visa for Russia if you are a UK national.

What documents do I need for a Russian visa?

  1. Visa application form – The visa application form can be obtained freely from a Russian visa application centre. You can also fill this in online through our website.
  2. Passport – You must have your original, signed passport which must be valid for at least 6 months after the planned date of departure from Russia. This must also have a blank visa page if applying for a single-entry visa or two blank pages for a double-entry visa. For multiple entries you will also need two blank consecutive pages.
  3. Photograph – You need one recent (no older than 6 months), passport-sized photograph taken on a plain white background for your Russian visa application.
  4. Tourist voucher and confirmation of invitation (tourist visas only) – The tourist voucher is a document that confirms your itinerary, hotel you are staying in and travel bookings in Russia. This document includes the tourist reference number in the case of Russian tourist visas. The confirmation of invitation is typically issued by a licensed UK or Russian travel company; the invitation is an official document issued by a company licensed by the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs. Please note: The tourist invitation and travel voucher need to have the same reference number.
  5. Business invitation (business visas only) – An official document issued by a company that has been licensed by the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs.
  6. Additional documents – These may include any additional documents such as those for nationals or people applying outside their home country, kids travelling alone, auto-tourist visas and documents that are required for self or unemployed travellers. When you enter your nationality into our website, we will list the additional documents you will require as part of your application. For more information, we always recommend checking the requirements for your region on the appropriate Russian Consulate / visa application centre website.

How much does a Russian visa cost?

The price of a Russian visa will depend on several factors such as the type of visa you are looking to apply for, the duration of the visa (including whether you want a visa with single, double or multiple entry), consular processing time (standard or express), and the country you apply for your visa in. There may be other special conditions that impact the price you pay, including your chosen delivery service, whether you applied directly to the consulate, or whether the consulate outsourced services to a visa application centre (resulting in an additional service charge).

Lake Baikal Scenic Tour

Simplify your Russian visa application – apply with us today!

As one of the first companies to adopt online Russian visa applications, we are confident that we can help deliver a simple, straightforward and stress-free application process for visitors in the UK. We can obtain a tourist and business invitations almost for any nationality, yet some restrictions apply such as for those nationalities that are considered by Russian authorities to be of a high migration risk.

Why travellers choose us for Russian visa applications

For more information on how to apply for a Russian visa and a breakdown of the types of visa available, please visit our dedicated Russian visas page.

Still unsure? Why not browse our many reviews on Trip Advisor!

Real Russia Blog

Meet the team: Tanya Pecheykina


Meet the team: Tanya Pecheykina

Our Visa Support Supervisor in Volzhsky

Introducing our team

This month, we continue to introduce you to our well-established team of dedicated specialists, who are happy to give independent, expert advice and assistance for all your travel needs. Today we shall be meeting Tanya Pecheykina, who you’ve probably already spoken to if you’ve ever applied for a visa with us! Let’s find out more!

Tanya, Visa Support Supervisor

Tanya started working for Real Russia in 2012, the day after her graduation from Volgograd University of Humanities with a Master’s Degree in logistics. 

Tanya likes to read and loves anything handmade such as embroidery, drawing and painting, even studying at an art school as a child.

Tanya likes to spend her time actively – riding her bike, roller-skating and skateboarding in the summer,  snowboarding and ice-skating in the winter. 

Tanya’s travel favourites

Where have you been in Russia and what is your favourite place in Russia?

I have been to Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, Dombay, Sochi and towns along the Black Sea coast. Each city has something different that attracts me. Moscow and St. Petersburg, of course, are grand and splendid, but of all the places I have been, the most magnetic for me is a Mountain called Dombay, because of the skiing and natural beauty of the Caucasus Mountains. I love the mountains and nature.
Where would you like to go next in Russia? 

The next destination – possibly Kaliningrad. Also on the list – Crimea, the Altai mountains and Lake Baikal.
What countries have you visited?

My first trip abroad was to America on a student Work and Travel programme, where I spent three and a half months. My life-long journey since then has continued through Europe – Germany, France, Czech Republic, Latvia, Estonia, Italy, Greece and the UK.  

I remember I had a long-haul journey by train from Volgograd to Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. That train journey took us three days, through Russia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, so I’ve almost completed half of the Trans-Siberian trip! 

​                                                                             Tanya in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Last summer I visited Baku (the capital of Azerbaijan) and Tbilisi (the capital of Georgia) and I loved both of them! The Georgian military road from Tbilisi to Vladikavkaz is simply must-see for all lovers of nature and mountains!

Work at Real Russia

Why do you think people use Real Russia services to apply for a visa rather than do it themselves?

The reasons can be varied, but mainly, I think, it’s to not worry about the whole process and be confident of a positive outcome. Applying for any visa independently requires a lot of time and attention due to many details and requirements. Why become a specialist in visas, if such professionals already exist?
What would you say is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

Actually, working at Real Russia, for me, is a bit like a hobby. I love what I do. I like that I’m a part of a great  team, and can provide real help to people and turn their travel plans into reality!

We thank Tanya for answering our questions. Keep your eyes open so you don’t miss next month’s interview with another member of our amazing team! Have questions about Russian, Mongolian, Chinese or another visa? We will get them answered!

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

F1 Grand Prix in Sochi

F1 Grand Prix in Sochi

Now that Vettel's Red Bull car has had a particularly difficult week, catching fire on course in Russia, and Hamilton's Mercedes also caught fire in Hungary last month, competition for the Formula 1 Grand Prix of 2014 has reached a new level!

As many of our staff are real F1 fans, we will be watching with anticipation to see if Red Bull can get Vettel's victory car back on course, in the run up to the Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix, in Sochi, on the 12th October 2014.

With conversations in place with the Russian organizing committee to simplify the Russian visa regime for people attending the event, it means Sochi will be a great place to get involved with Formula 1!

Though what to do once the final flag has fallen and with the rest of your holiday to enjoy? Why not try taking the overland railway to Moscow? or the high speed railway, Sapsan, from Moscow to St Petersburg? Travel arrangements is simplified by our trains page that describes European trains direct to and from Russia, as well as domestic trains within Russia too, such as the Trans-Siberian Railway.

If you would like to take your trip even further, we can even help with accommodation, full tours and excursions, such as a boat trip gliding along the river in Moscow, an opportunity to uncover the history in the Kremlin and Armoury , or city tours within Moscow, St Petersburg and Yekaterinburg, as well as many more!

Our award winning travel specialists are knowledgeable about travel in Russia and the surrounding areas, therefore we can offer you the best local insight to make sure your trip goes exactly how you would like it to!

Real Russia Blog

BMW PGA 2014 - European Golf Tour!

BMW PGA 2014 – European Golf Tour!

Whilst the PGA Championship is celebrating 60 years in its' European tour history, the PGA has once again teamed up with BMW to host the event at Wentworth Golf Club this week.

The BMW PGA Championship sets the stage for the world's finest golf pro’s and in preparation Real Russia have been working alongside the PGA to help the players, their caddies, friends and family to arrange Russian visas for the M2M Russian Open, held in Moscow between the 24th and 27th July 2014.

Misha and Katya in our visa team are enjoying meeting the players, plus of course assisting with the Russian visa applications! Fortunately they have had some time to take a few behind the scenes photos around the club, so check out these exclusive photos on our Facebook – and see the golf players on course at Wentworth Golf Club in the run up to the BMW PGA Championship and European Tour, teeing off on Thursday!

If you are planning a visit to Russia, Mongolia or China and would like advice or guidance on your trip, then get in touch with one of our travel team who will be happy to talk you through the options available. Or if you require train tickets, accommodation, visas or transfers then we are here to help!

Are you following the BMW PGA Championship this year? If so, we’d be interested to hear about your Golfing favourites on the course! You can connect with us on Facebook, Twitter or Linked in.

You can also check out the European Golf tournament with more info on the players and events

Real Russia Blog

World Travel Awards 2014: Nomination!

World Travel Awards 2014: Nomination!

For over ten years Real Russia has been devoted to offering the most dedicated travel service and we are pleased to announce that we are once again in the running for: ‘Russia’s Leading Travel Agency” at the World Travel Awards for 2014.

(Click for info on ‘How to vote’!)

Though we won the 2013 World Travel Award, as voted by our customers, this 2014 nomination g

ives us the opportunity to once again prove our service, and retain the title of “Russia’s Leading Travel Agency”, as well as extend support to our dedicated charity!

This year our charity of choice as Go Help, which improves healthcare to 3rd world countries. Its' volunteers work tirelessly to enhance the ambulance services available in countries such as Mongolia, and the stan-regions. See our March blog outlining the Go Helps charity rallies and the ways in which our support can help. For each vote we receive, we will make donation to Go Help!

We feel proud to have this opportunity to win two years in a row, and so if you, a friend, or someone you know, has received outstanding customer service, been happy with our visa process, used our helpful forum or website, or experienced the trip of a life time arranged through us; and think that our commitment should be acknowledged and rewarded, then our whole team at Real Russia would appreciate your support by voting for us as “Russia’s Leading Travel Agency 2014”.

It is an easy process to vote – click to see ‘How to Vote!’.

And, if you would like to get to know our online community, keep in touch with us via our Facebook, Twitter, or Linked in too.

Thank you for taking part!

from everyone at Real Russia

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

Real Russia Blog

US Visas to Russia

US Visas to Russia

Due to an agreement between the US and Russia on September 9th 2012, visa applications for US citizens have been simplified. Under the new rules, US passport holders no longer need provide proof of residency when applying for visas.

Also, under the new rules, standard visas will be three year multi-entry visas for both tourists and business travellers.

If you would like any more information or guidance on this issue please contact our Visa team.

For further information on this historic agreement:

The Embassy of the Russian Federation to the United States of America

US Department of State