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: Inna Pluzhnyk

Meet the team: Inna Pluzhnyk

A Visa Administrator in our London office!

Introducing our team

Today we will continue to introduce you to the Real Russia team, our main asset and pride. Meet our team and find out more about their interests, favorite destinations and their work.

Today we spoke to Inna Pluzhnyk, Visa Administrator in the Real Russia team in London.

Inna Pluzhnyk, Real Russia Visa Specialist

Are you passionate about travel?

I like travelling very much and love to experience traditions in different countries. I have been to the Dominican Republic, Spain, France, Egypt, Turkey and many more Eastern European countries, but not to Russia yet. I speak four languages – English, Ukrainian, Russian and Polish – and so enjoy travelling to learn new ones.

What are your hobbies?

I enjoy swimming, reading books & travelling.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

I like that every day I communicate with interesting people who are going on their journey. I learn a lot of new things from them, and discover interesting places for myself. I am also very grateful that I have such a nice visa team, I know that they will always come to the rescue, support me and give professional advice. So, I'm happy to be part of this team and grow with them.

Visa tips

Next, we asked Inna to answer the burning questions related to visas.

What is the optimal time to apply for a visa to Russia?

The optimal time is two to three months before you travel. There are two types of service available at the moment: express and standard. Express service takes two working days, standard service takes six working days. Same day service is not available anymore.

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

The majority of our customers decide to apply with us because it saves time and they can rely on our vast knowledge, making the experience stress free. We have a lot of returning clients who recommend us to their relatives and friends.

What is the hardest thing about filling in a visa application form?

For sure, everyone can answer all the questions.
Sometimes, though, there are some weird questions. For example, on the Russian application form you should provide the details of your overall income and names of any social networks you use, sometimes this shocks people.

What is the most difficult part in applying for Russian visa?

The most difficult thing about applying for a Russian visa is gathering the required documents and making sure they are acceptable to meet the Consulate's rules. Here at Real Russia, after years of experience of checking applications, we are renowned for our expertise in ensuring applications are not returned for being incomplete.

Can the visa clients be the nationals of foreign countries?

Our clients can be nationals of foreign countries, but they must be UK residents and be able to prove they have been for at least 3 months or 6 months, depending on the visa they’re applying for. However, we provide help with obtaining visa support documents for nationals of most countries.

Are Mongolian and Chinese visas easy to apply for and get?

The process of applying for a Mongolian or Chinese visa is quite simple – provide all that is necessary and there shouldn't be an issue. Of course, each Embassy looks at applications individually, and inevitably it is up to them, whether to issue a visa or not, even if you supply all requirements.


We thank Inna for answering our question and look forward to introducing you to another member of our team next month.

If you would like to know more about obtaining a visa, visit our Visa FAQ page or get in touch with our specialists.

Real Russia Blog

The visa team – a day in the life



The visa team – a day in the life


A seamless and efficient service, we thought you might be interested to know exactly what happens after applying for your visa by spending a day in the life of our visa team..

Opening promptly at 9am the team are ready with their computers on, phones manned and an all important cup of tea or coffee to hand. Based in Islington, London, the team are truly multicultural with an impressive nine different languages (including Russian) spoken between them!

Each member of the team has their individual tasks and they swing into action like a well oiled machine. The first thing is to check all emails for information regarding existing applications, also to capture any new requests. The courier also arrives as soon as the office doors open, delivering all posted applications straight from the post office. Each received application is then logged on our system with an automatic email sent to customers informing them that everything has arrived safely. If there are any issues, such as required documents that have not been included, the team will then specifically contact the customer to let them know (firstly by phone or email if they cannot be reached by phone). Received passports, photos and visa support documents are then collated and separated by either Express or Standard return service level, then by the country the visa is required for, before being sent to the relevant consulate by our in-house courier.

Around midday, standard service visa applications prepared and submitted by the team the previous day are returned by the courier from the Russian consulate, conveniently located just around the corner. Each passport with a visa is then individually checked to make sure there are no errors (checking names, entry and exit dates, if it should be a multiple entry visa, or if there are more than one country to be visited). By approximately 1pm, all other applications from different consulates (Mongolian and Chinese for example) are returned and go through the same checking process.

In the afternoon the Express service applications are returned from the Russian consulate, checked by the team and then returned to the customer by recorded delivery.

The final tasks of the day are to finalise any paperwork for new applications ensuring that all information matches that found on our system. Based on the number of applications, the in-house courier service is then planned for the following day – when the process starts all over again!

Real Russia supports thousands of people travelling to the region with all aspects of travel services including planning unique Trans-Siberian rail tours, booking hotels or other accommodation, transfers from the airport to your hotel, Russian train tickets and Moscow and St Petersburg short tours. All supported by our visa team providing the relevant services to help you gain the visas you need when travelling to Russia.

If you are planning a visit to Russia, China, Mongolia or beyond and would like additional guidance or information, then do not hesitate to contact a member of our travel team who will be pleased to help.

Real Russia Blog

Visa fee-waiver for Moscow 2013 World Athletic Championships

Visa fee-waiver for Moscow 2013 World Athletic Championships

The Russian Government is hopefully about to approve plans for a simplified visa procedure and possible fee-waiver, ahead of the World Athletic Championships, held in Moscow this August.

The proposal was discussed during a recent meeting between the Moscow 2013 Local Organising Committee (LOC) and the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF). According to the Executive Director of the LOC, Aleksandr Polinskiy, the proposed document “will soon be approved” and all paperwork will be signed. Polinskiy explained they have advised for “all the Consulates to apply a fee-waiver for Moscow 2013 participants and guests”.

At yesterdays IAAF press conference, the president Lamine Diack commented that ‘Moscow will deliver a wonderful championships’. He also praised the level of cooperation between the LAAF and the LOC and said that “technical preparations are on schedule to deliver a great Championship; Luzhniki Stadium which hosted the 1980 Olympic Games is one of the iconic sports venues of the world, and the competition facilities are of the highest level.”

Real Russia Blog

Russia may simplify visa regulations for 2018 World Cup

Russia may simplify visa regulations for 2018 World Cup

Russia may simplify visa regulations for the upcoming World Cup in 2018.

A bill has been proposed to the Federal Assembly of Russia concerning the lifting of visa requirements for foreign travellers during the 2018 World Cup. These plans would affect those foreigners involved with the organisation and operation of the 2018 World Cup, as well as the 2017 Confederations’ Cup, who would be expected to skip consular procedures and fees.

The bill also proposed that a ticket to a World Cup game would be considered an official travel document, giving foreigners the right to free travel between Russian host cities during the competition. The intended change aims to boost tourism in Russia during the World Cup by making it easier for tourists to enter the country.

The host cities for the 2018 Russian World Cup were recently announced.

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