Visa to Russia

, updated on May 30, 2013

The visa issues arise, when it comes to a visit of a foreign citizen to Russia. We should admit, that the standard procedure of getting a visa is neither fast nor simple – however, don’t give up.

According to the Russian legislation, every foreign citizen must have a valid visa to enter the Russia, except for the countries listed below – those having a special agreement.

The visa application procedure and the required documents depend on the visa type and its duration.

To start with, you should apply to your local consular service of the Russian Federation –see the full list of the embassies and consulates at The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia website.

Required documents

1. Passport

2. Visa application form (2 copies)

3. Two 35×45 mm photos

4. For a single entry tourist visa: a standard travel contract and a voucher from the tour operator. For a private visitor visa: an invitation letter approved by the Ministry of Internal Affairs or the Federal Migration Service.

5. Medical insurance covering your period of stay

Normally the visa issue turnaround time doesn’t exceed 20 working days. EU citizens would typically get their visas in 5-7 days.

Making an invitation for a private visitor

If a foreign citizen comes to Russia as a private visitor (to see friends or relatives, to attend a private event) and is not going to stay at a hotel, s/he needs an invitation to get a visa.

An invitation is made by a receiving party at their local department of the Federal Migration Service or at the Consular Service of the Department of Foreign Affairs. The receiving party needs to provide the relevant service bureau with the passport data of a guest, the expected/ planned dates of travel, a filled out application form, a letter to guarantee guest’s accommodation and an application fee receipt.

Normally the invitation is considered within 4-6 days, the waiting period can’t exceed 30 days.

The forms can be downloaded from the website of the Federal Migration Service in St. Petersburg

Making the process easier

If your trip is not arranged by a travel agency, the visa application may appear to be quite a long and difficult process both for a guest and for a receiving party. However, there’s a way to make it easier – given the commitment and some extra money to invest:

– Ask your local travel agency to arrange a Russian visa for you – the hassle free visa application will cost you up to 100 euro. Ask your local visa centers accredited by the embassies and consulates of Russian Federation, if they provide such a service.

– Most of the hotels and hostels in St. Petersburg provide visa support, if you book a room there. They will also take care of your migratory registration.

– There are plenty of travel agencies ready to help with an invitation for a tourist visa. It will cost you around 1000 RUB.

Entry registration for foreign citizens

All foreign citizens entering Russia (except for the citizens of the Republic of Belarus) must fill in the migration card

You will be provided with this card during you flight or at the customs service.

All foreign citizens must register at the local Federal Migration Service office or a local post office (postal service fee is 180 RUB) within 7 days upon their arrival. The notification is provided by a receiving party, e.g. by friends, relatives or the hotel administration.

Please, keep the tear-off coupon given during the migratory registration until your departure.

If you stay in Russia for less than 7 days, you don’t need to register.

If, by reasonable excuse (with the supporting documents provided), the visa extension is needed, you must apply for that prior to your valid visa expiry to the local Federal Migration Service office, where the migratory registration was made.

Visa-free entry countries


NB The passengers of cruise liners and ferries arriving to St. Petersburg for no longer than 72 hours don’t need a visa, provided that they stay on the ferry or another place as per the voucher.

Useful links

1. Russian consulates abroad

2. Visa application procedure and forms at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website (in Russian)

3. Invitation procedure guidance at the Federal Migration Service website (in Russian)

4. Information about the migratory registration at the Federal Migration Service website:

arrival with visa

visa-free arrival

5. Offices of the Federal Migration Service in St. Petersburg:

6. Travel agency REISE BUERO WELT, visa support

7. Travel agency Absolute, visa support (in Russian)

Translation by Svetlana Serebryakova

About Polina Polyakova

Hi! I love my home town St.Petersburg and i want to share my passion with you. Lets see if my vast experience in tourism can be of use ;)


  1. Marco

    June 22, 2013 at 1:18 am

    Most expensive visa i ever got!!!!!

  2. Jane

    June 22, 2013 at 11:16 pm

    Like me! And it was complicated to get! But I don’t regret!

  3. Laxmikant Mallya

    May 3, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    I don’t know why this article says its difficult to get Russian tourist visa. I got it very easily and within 3 working days.and to be fair, the cost is cheap. In India we paid 1360 rupees which is $20.
    it was not at all complicated and the staff was prompt. Infact US visa is the most dificult to obtain.

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