Do I need a visa?
A Russian visa is required for nationals of most countries. However, recently Russia established a visa free regime with several European, Asian and South American countries. To check whether the visa free regime is applicable in your case, please contact the Russian consulate in your country.
How to obtain a visa?
To obtain a Russian visa, you first need to obtain an invitation (visa support) issued by an authorized organization. Then you should take that invitation to the Russian consulate in your country in order to obtain an actual visa.
I have booked a hotel in Russia. Do I still need an invitation?
Hotel booking confirmation and visa support documents (invitation) are not the same thing. Confirmation from a hotel is only sufficient if a hotel is authorized to provide visa support for foreign citizens. Only first class hotels (such as Sheraton, Marriott, etc.) are entitled to do this. If you book another hotel, you should also present a letter of invitation from an authorized tour company in order to get a visa.
Can I use a tourist or business visa if the actual purpose of my visit is different?
Generally, the type of visa that you may use mostly depends on the duration of your visit. However, a tourist or business visa cannot be used if:
You visit Russia in order to adopt a child (a specific adoption visa will be required)
You want to send a child to Russia with his/her Russian mother (a homestay visa will be required)
You want to stay in Russia more than 90 days (a student or work visa will be required)
In these cases invitations must be processed by the persons or entities you really plan to visit.
I am visiting Russia on an international cruise. Do I need a visa
The regulations for cruise passengers are very specific. A cruise passenger can get off the ship together with other tourists, in this case no visa is required. The passport control officers just check the list of passengers produced by the cruise company. If a cruise passenger does not wish to be with the group and prefers making an individual city tour, just having a tourist visa would not be sufficient. You should be met at the port and ushered through the passport control by a representative of the tourist company whose services you have booked. A cruise passenger cannot just show his passport with visa to the passport control officers and go to the city. One has to be escorted.
Once I am issued a visa, can I travel all over Russia?
Normally, yes. You will be issued a visa to the country, not to any specific places. Once in Russia, you have the right to change your original itinerary and travel elsewhere. However, there are places and regions in Russia foreigners have but limited access to.
How long can I stay in Russia?
Your visa will be issued for the period of time covered by your invitation regardless of the date of the visa issuance and that of your actual entry to Russia. You cannot enter earlier or overstay your visa but you can enter the country later or/and leave it earlier than originally planned. Normally a tourist visa is available for up to 30 days. However, the experience shows that some consulates in Europe only provide a tourist visa for up to 14 days. If you plan to obtain a long-term tourist visa, your application may be checked extra closely and you may be asked for a hotel payment confirmation along with an invitation. The experience shows that this is often the case in Europe. Consulates located in North America and Australia normally issue 30 days tourist visas with no complications. A business visa can be issued for 1, 3, 6 or 12 months. Normally a multiple entry 6 or 12 months visa is only available for people who have been issued a Russian visa before. If this is your first visit, you are eligible to obtain a single or double entry visa for 1 to 3 months. Please note that a multiple entry business visa allows nationals of all countries to stay in Russia up to 90 days out of the period of 180 days. An alternative option is using 3 months business visas and changing them when necessary. A tourist or business visa cannot be extended.
I have arrived in Russia. How do I register my visa?
A foreign citizen must register with the local migration authorities within 7 days upon arrival. Then a visa has to be re-registered at each city where you stay more than 7 business days. The registration must be completed by the receiving entity. Please note that the receiving entity is not necessarily the same as the inviting organization or hotel entered in the person's invitation and visa but a company, hotel or person a foreigner is actually visiting in Russia. If you do stay at a hotel, the registration is fully taken care of by the hotel reception. If you stay at a private apartment, your visa is to be registered by your landlord. Please have the landlord apply at the local police precinct (in Moscow) or FMS office (commonly known as OVIR) in other cities. He will just need to fill out a registration form indicating your passport and migration card details. Your landlord will have to present his passport with the registration (a so-called "registraciya") at the same address. In most cities the form can also be sent to the migration authorities from the local post office. As sending a document by post takes considerably less time than presenting it to the police, we recommend that you use this option whenever possible.
I have lost my passport
Please contact the nearest police station urgently and report the loss. You will be provided with a certificate confirming the loss of your passport. 2. Please contact your consulate in Russia in order to be issued a new temporary passport.
I would like to extend my visa
Sorry, this is not possible. Neither a tourist nor a business visa can be extended. If you happen to overstay your visa, you will need an exit visa in order to leave the country. An exit visa is to be taken care of by the invitation issuer. Please do not waste time trying to contact any other entities and do not let any information obtained by hearsay influence your actions. Please contact us once you realize that you are unable to leave Russia in time and we will provide detailed instructions as to the paperwork you will have to collect in order to obtain an exit visa.
Can I obtain a new visa without leaving Russia?
No, not legally. Here is the explanation why. An entry visa to Russia is processed by the Russian consulates in foreign countries. No entity in Russia can issue a Russian visa. Sometimes people think it a good idea to send their passport from Russia to their country via FedEx and have the consulate or a visa expediting agency send back the new visa once it is ready. Indeed, this would be the worst possible option to take because in such a case your new visa will be invalid as you will not have crossed the Russian border with this visa and obtained a stamp in your passport. What with one visa expired and the other, invalid, a foreigner founds himself in a most difficult situation. The only thing he can do is to obtain an exit visa (which is a really complicated procedure) and leave the country directly.