Updated: Jun 1, 2019
Russia occupies a special place on "to-visit lists" of many tourists. And those, who were lucky enough to visit the biggest country in the world, want to come back someday, since few could travel it entirely from Kamchatka via Lake Baikal to Moscow and St.Pete's on their first attempt. However, despite memories of its natural wonders or good-hearted people, some have their eyes twitching when they remember getting their Russian visa.
Is getting a visa for Russia really such a big hassle? Well, yes and no at the same time. This post will guide you on this issue.
Before you book an appointment at a local Russian consulate of your city you should have:
Letter of Invitation (LOI);
Visa application – complete and with a photo attached;
Money to pay the fee.
Since our interest lies in tourism and traveling, this list is only applicable to tourist visas, not any other categories.
Let’s stick with the right order and start with the Letter of Invitation. This should be the first step in getting your visa. The LOI is easy to obtain from a website within a couple of minutes. Use our website ( https://www.zhostel.net/visa-support ) or any other reliable one that can be found on Google. You’ll need to put personal information, dates, places, and indicate accommodations where you plan to stay. If you haven’t booked yet, no worries, you don’t have to stay in the accommodation you mention in the LOI, add anything. Note that it is also totally legal to change cities you’re going to visit. When it’s done, you’ll have to pay the fee, usually around for 15-20 USD or 1000-1500 rubles (1000 rubles for most nationalities on Z hostel website. You can pay using a bank card or PayPal.
Perfect! The LOI has been successfully received by email. Now the second step: the online application. Luckily, it is quite a common step in getting any visa; unluckily, it takes a while to fill in, plus some questions may seem to be strange. It's of outmost importance to be attentive. Make sure the dates in the LOI match the dates you put on your visa application. Mistakes are also undesirable if you want your application to be approved.
The application can be found online through your local Russian consulate website, or by following the link mentioned above.
Now that you have your LOI and Visa application with the photo attached; you are super welcome to set up an appointment at your local Russian consulate. After handing in the application and paying the fees you’ll have to wait around 10 days for normal processing, or 2-3 for express. The cost of the fees depends on: type of visa, processing time and your citizenship. So it turns out that a single entry visa (processed within 4-10 business days) would cost you approx 100-120 USD. That is ≈80 USD for the consular fee and ≈30 USD for the service fee. Do not forget to add the cost of LOI.
Voila! The long-awaited and sometimes dreaded Russian visa is ready to be collected from the consulate. It is high time you and your mates booked the flight and began discovering. Do not forget to ask for registrations wherever you stay: hotels/hostels (upon your check-in) or private apartments (if you stay more than 7 business days in one city). The host is responsible for it and must make registrations for free.
Now it doesn’t seem that scary, right?