Foreign citizens arriving to Russia or leaving it, with some exceptions, must have a valid Russian visa. A visa is permission to enter/leave Russia, to stay in the country and to transit through its territory. It is not possible to obtain a visa at the airport, when entering the Russian Federation. Russian Visa can be obtained at Russian consulate or embassy in the country of your residence.
The procedure for obtaining a Russian visa consists of ten steps, some of these may require time and expense. Therefore, look through it before booking your flights.
1. First of all, make sure that you need a visa to enter Russia
There are countries signed bilateral agreements with Russia to allow visa-free travel for their citizens. See the Visa Free section, select your country from the list and find out if you are eligible to visit Russia without a visa.
2. Choose the dates of your stay in Russia
You need this information to decide what type of visa you will apply for and to fill in your visa application.
3. Make sure your passport is valid for the dates you are planning to travel
Your passport, with some exceptions (see the Basic Documents section), should be valid for at least 6 months after departure date from Russia and have at least 2 blank pages.
4. Decide what type of visa you need to apply for
There are 12 different Russian visa types depending on the purpose of your visit. However, more than three-quarters of all issued visas, fall under tourist and business visas.
Please note! that the type of visa issued can differ from the exact purpose of your trip to Russia.
Look through the full description of different Russian visas available in the Visa Types section.
5. Get an invitation (visa support)
To get a visa invitation you have to find a company or a person (depending on the chosen visa) who will provide you with it.
For a Tourist Visa you will require a tourist voucher and a tourist confirmation as a visa support. Both documents should be issued by any authorized hotel or travel agency.
An invitation for a Business Visa can be obtained on the basis of request from an officially accredited Russian company to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs or its regional representatives, or an appropriate branch of the Federal Migration Service of Russia.
For a Private Visa you need to get a personal invitation certificate or «izveshchenie» (the original only) issued by the Federal Migration Service of Russia. The Russian citizen inviting you to visit the country must come in person to the Local Office of the Federal Migration Service to apply for the invitation.
Invitations for a Study and a Work Visa can be obtained respectively by your educational institution or your employer.
6. Prepare the full set of documents
Contact your nearest Russian Embassy/Consulate to find out their requirements for obtaining your visa: processing period, visa fees, necessary documents, and etc. Each consular department has its own requirements for visa obtaining.
Please note! Russian consulates mostly do not work on Russian public holidays and generally do not observe local national public holidays.
7. Submit the documents to the Consulate
The full set of documents should be brought to the consulate by the applicant, by an authorized agent, or sent by regular mail.
Please note! You should use a registered delivery service if applying by mail.
When the documents have been accepted, the applicant will get a receipt indicating the date on which the visa should be ready for pick-up. The receipt shall be presented to get the visa.
Processing time is very dependent on a visa type, your nationality, and time of year. However, generally a short stay visa application can be processed within seven business days.
8. Obtain your visa
When the visa is collected, the applicant should check the correctness of the information in the visa – surname, first name, passport number, date of birth, dates of travel, etc., and return the visa immediately for corrections, if necessary.
Make a copy of your visa, main pages of your passport and always carry them with you. Keep the originals in a safe place and don’t lose them.
9. Obtain and fill in a migration card
A migration card has to be completed by every foreigner before going through Russian passport control.
Migration cards are available at all ports of entry from Russian immigration officials. They will put a stamp on your card and remove the top section.
Afterwards, being in Russia, you need to present your migration card in order to register the visa.
Additionally, you must present your migration card at passport control when leaving Russia.
Please note! Every time you enter Russia, you need a new migration card.
10. Register your stay
You are required to register your stay within 7 business days of your entry in Russia. See detailed information in the Registration section.
The information provided is current as of November 2016