Russian Travel Visa
So you've finally decided to visit us. Congrats, you've made the right choice! Just get a Russian travel visa, and start packing!
There's a certain procedure you must go through before you're on your way to the Motherland. Don't worry, I'll describe it in the finest detail.
Plus, I'll give you some "rules of engagement" for dealing with Russian bureaucracy. They are tough, but you can beat them.
And you surely will!
OK, so what do these guys want from us? Let's see.
1) Your original passport with at least 2 blank visa-designated pages (passport must be valid for at least 6 months after intended departure date from Russia).
Nothing much to explain here, I guess.
2) Two copies of Russian travel visa application form, completed and signed.
You can download it right here.
3) ONE passport-size photo signed on the back.
You know what? Bring four! Or even six! They don't cost too much, and you won't have to travel back and forth several times. It happened to me once, and since then I always bring more than I'm required.
4) Group tour - a letter from tour company confirming itinerary including a copy of the confirmation from authorized Russian travel company which shows the reference number and confirmation number for the visa.
Looks tough, but that's usually handled by the tour operator. Check with them in advance. If they don't help you skip this hassle - find another company that does.
5) Individual traveler: Confirmation of hotel arrangements from authorized Russian travel company, or directly from the Russian hotel, showing reference number and confirmation number for the visa.
You can get this form easily from your hotel. Most of them provide visa support, but check in advance anyway. IMPORTANT: make sure everything appears clearly, especially the numbers. It's best to use email, not fax. Russian phone lines, you know...
1) Come prepared. If you're getting the visa on your own - be sure you know the requirements in advance. See, Russian embassies aren't very pleasant, so minimize the time spent there. It's best to call them on the phone - they aren't doing well with emails.
2) Be patient. Don't argue unless you really, really have to. Let's face it - the service is bad, the bureaucracy is through the roof, and there're usually more people than the embassy can handle. Have faith, have spare time, and you'll make it through.
3) Learn from the others. If there're people around you who had to get Russian travel visa in the past - be sure to learn from them. Don't pass by the forums dedicated to Russian travel - they'll help you greatly.
4) Outsource the whole thing. Have your travel operator deal with everything, for God's sake! May cost you slightly more, but it's worth every penny. I really, really recommend that.
Well, that's pretty much it! Oh, I forgot - it usually takes them from 3 to 10 business days to issue a visa, plus there can be a 5-day waiting period, meaning you can't enter the country right after your application gets approved, so plan accordingly.
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