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Russian Tourist Visa Requirements: Q and A


WHAT IS A RUSSIAN TOURIST VISA?

A Russian tourist visa is a vital document issued to foreigners to explore Russia. It serves as an entry and exit permit into the Russian Federation. A Russian tourist visa is the most common and affordable type of visa for Russia amongst other types of visa such as the business, student, work and private visa. As the validity period of other types of visa for Russia varies, so does a Russian tourist visa.

The validity period of a Russian tourist visa is 30 days and it enables single and multiple entries. However, in some circumstances such as ill-health and covid-19 regulations, your visa could be extended.

HOW TO GET A RUSSIAN TOURIST VISA

There are about 58 countries that can enter into the territory of the Russian Federation without a visa such as Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia and Kyrgyzstan. There are some countries that without a visa, entry into the Russian Federation will not be allowed. In such countries, it is required that a foreigner should have a valid visa.

However, before you can get a Russian tourist visa you will need a Russian invitation letter. This is sometimes called visa support or a tourist voucher.

A Russian invitation letter or tourist voucher is the most sought and cheapest type of invitation letter. It has a validity period of 30 days, although the price could vary based on the type of citizenship you have, migration risk and a host of other factors.

A Russian invitation letter is a very essential document as, without it, you cannot proceed with the process of getting a Russian tourist visa. You should also note that a Russian tourist invitation letter is different from a Russian tourist visa.

A Russian tourist invitation letter usually comes in an A4 format and can be issued by:

1. A hotel: While some hotels will charge a fee to get this letter, others offer it for free but on the condition that your accommodation will be in the hotel. However, if for one reason or the other you decide to change your place of accommodation, the hotel will charge a stipulated fee. If you used a hotel service to get your Russian invitation letter, it is usually sent through an email or fax.

2. Tour operators or travel agencies: Before applying for a visa using a tour operator or a travel agency, you should ensure that they have both been accredited and have the right to issue an invitation letter.

An authorized agency such as Visa Express provides such service at an affordable price, they are also fast and effective and you can get your invitation letter emailed to you within few minutes.

An advantage of using visa service is that you get to choose whichever hotel you deem fit for your stay in Russia. You will also not be required to pay any stipulated fees like when a hotel sends your invitation letter.

DOCUMENTS REQUIRED TO GET A RUSSIAN TOURIST VISA

Apart from a Russian invitation letter, there are other documents needed to process your Russian tourist visa. These are:

  • Passport.
  • Passport photograph.
  • An application form.

1 – Passport: You will need a valid international passport with a six-month validity period and a minimum of two blank pages. A minimum of one blank page is needed for a single entry visa and while for a double-entry visa, two blank pages are required. These blank pages are used to stamp.

2 – Passport photograph: You are required to have a single superb passport photograph with a white background that measures two by two inches. The expression on the passport photograph must be neutral with no appearance of a smile or any form of headgears. An exception is made for individuals with religious beliefs that wear headgears.

3 – An application form: An application form should be filled from the consulate website, you should endeavour to fill out all the fields on the form. After filling all the fields with your correct details, submit the form, print and sign where applicable. For minors, foreigners below the ages of 18years, an international passport or driver license of parents or guardian will be needed when signing. A certificate of birth or letter of adoption will also be needed if the minor was adopted.  

PURPOSES FOR WHICH A RUSSIAN TOURIST VISA CAN BE ISSUED 

The purpose for which a Russian tourist visa can be issued is majorly for tourist purposes such as getting firsthand experiences with Russian cuisines, their art and culture, their rich and historical religious studies and a plethora of other things.  

However, a Russian tourist visa can be issued for other purposes such as:

  • For visiting family, friends and old colleagues.
  • Business negotiation: Russian tourist visas with this aim are known as “special aim tourism”. This is usually used for short business negotiations or trips.
  • Surgery or medical consultation.
  • Exhibition: For exhibition purposes, an Expo-tourist visa can be issued, although this has a validity period of seven days.
  • Ceremonies such as graduations from colleges.

Nevertheless, for whatever purpose you will be using a Russian tourist visa, your purpose should be for tourism.

 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW WHEN TRAVELLING TO RUSSIA.

Russia secures the position as the 9th largest country in the world with Moscow as its capital. It has a lot of exciting and unforgettable places to see such as St. Petersburg. But to have a lovely and unforgettable experience in Russia, there are a couple of things you should know such as;

1 – A valid visa for Russia: You should ensure that you own a valid visa for Russia and you stay within the stipulated period on your visa to not invite Russian authorities. However, most countries that were under the Soviet Union do not require a visa. Thus, it is essential to check if you will require a visa or not. For foreigners that enter the territory of the Russian Federation through sea or ship, they have a 72-hour visa-free period. Note that for whatever reasons you might have you shouldn’t exceed this visa-free period.

2 – Russia climate: This is an important factor you should put into consideration, depending on the season you decide to travel; summer or winter. Get yourself prepared as Russian climate is extremely unpredictable even the locals sometimes can’t predict their weather. As there could be as much as four seasons within a day.

3 – Language: Most Russians speak Russian which is an official language in Russia, although some can speak English. You would mostly find Russians that can speak English in restaurants, hotels and tourist sites. It will be very beneficial for you if you can communicate in basic Russian languages and say basic words in Russian such as; Hi, I can’t speak Russian; can you speak English? how are? and thank you.

Before travelling you can also take a few classes in Russian language or use apps such as Duolingo and Italki to help improve your Russian language.  Also, most words or sentences are written in Cyrillic. This might be a bonus to you if you can read Latin. If not, don’t be scared the world is a global village.

All you need to do is make sure you have a good network and make Google translate your best friend. You will have to use the google translate camera to scan the text in Cyrillic and viola! If not all, this will translate a decent amount of the text in English. Although you might look funny with how you will do this, it’s better to look funny than be lost.

4 – Money: Russians uses ruble as its currency. It is advisable to change your local currency to ruble before travelling to Russia,  as the rate may not be favourable for tourist. Although the Russian financial system is transitioning to a cashless economy, cash at hand is still always advisable and important some business or commercial activities operate using cash only.

Very few businesses accept card transaction. Nevertheless, for day to day activities, such paying bus fares will require you to have cash at hand.

5 – Russian food or cuisine: Russian has a variety of tasty and delicious food, the most popular is the beet soup known as Borscht. Others are Solyanka, Ukha and Pelmeni. You can research the ingredients use to make this food, to know if you would have a food allergy, you should also try them out as this will give you an additionally acquired taste.

Russian Travel Tips and Etiquette

Russian etiquettes and customs: As the saying goes, “when you are in Rome, behave like a roman”. Thus, when you are in Russia try your possible best to behave like them.  Russians are very respectful people this can be observed in their mild traditional society.

Here are some Major Russian customs and traditions you should have by heart are.

1 – Endeavour to take off your shoes, when entering or visiting a Russian home even if, it’s your place of accommodation. However, slippers are usually given to visitors at the entrance of people’s homes, in a way this maintains and ensures cleanliness.

2 – When you visit someone in Russia you should endeavour to bring a gift.

3 – Do not call people their first names except you are told to do so.

4 – Except for shops in places like Moscow, most shops stops selling alcohol after 11 pm.

5 – Always make sure you dress up well whenever going out especially if you are a female. When going to church cover your hair and endeavour to wear a skirt. while for men, do not cover your head and wear shorts to church.


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