Travel In RussiaThe lack of information on the web concerning how to get to Russia is astonishing. Many websites simply do not provide trustworthy list of documents, moreover they know very little about the process of applying and receiving Russian visa. Based on information from official Russian sources, my own experience and the experience of my husband who is an American citizen, I will try to give you the information you can actually use with and trust.

So here we go…

As you know a lot of countries make it really hard for Russians to travel the world (for a good reason), Western countries in particular. Instead of becoming more developed economically and stable politically so other counties could allow visa free entrance, Russia decided to go a more petty way in resolving this issue. The process of getting a visa to Russia is made as difficult for Westerners as it is to get visas to their counties. This way our government achieved “fairness” so to speak. ‘If our guys cannot go to your country, your guys cannot go to our country.” It is an easy solution that does not require a lot of diplomacy and brainpower. It is certainly does not mean that you will not be able to travel to Russia, it simply may be a bit of a pain in the neck. First you need to prepare all the documents that will prove Russian consulate that you have no intentions to possibly overstay your visa. The more papers the better.

1. Bank statement. Print out and certify your statements for the past six months. Usually it is enough 3 months. But you never know the mood of the person that will be handling your case. So just get as many months as you can.

2. The letter from your employer. You need to prove that your salary is good enough to travel to Russia. The letter from your employer should state your wages for the last year. If you are self employed, let’s say you receive paycheck from Google ads, show the statement of your payments for the last year. It is written on some Russian embassy websites that 6 months is enough, but as I say, take more if you can. They will love it.

3. Birth certificate. If you have a child from a previous marriage, take the birth certificate of this child. For consulate this will mean that you probably will not want to abandon your child and thus will not overstay your welcome in Russia.

4. Real Estate ownership. If you own any houses, apartments or any other property, bring all the documents proving your ownership. This will also indicate that you have no intention to stay in Russia illegally.

5. Medical Insurance. This one can be tricky, because you need to find a medical aid that will be valid in Russia and will cover you for the entire time of your visit.

If you think that’s all you need, you are mistaken. These are only supporting documents. From Russian embassy of your country you also need to download a necessary application form. Have a few passport pictures with you. Make sure you adhere to all requirements for the passport picture. Russians don’t like smily faces. This information may available on the website of Russian embassy in your country. Also prepare money to pay all kinds of fees. And don’t forget to have a valid passport that will not expire in 6 months. But that’s not all. The real pain starts further. Before you apply for your Tourist Visa you already need to provide all kinds of documents about your stay in Russia:

1. Conformation from the Hotel

2. Invitation from whoever you travel to see

3. Russian National Tourist Office Booking

The requirements may differ from country to country. Therefore, make sure to check out Russian embassy website in your country. The three requirements above are the most challenging and a lot of people have no opportunity to get them on their own. Conformation from the Hotel you are going to stay in is the easiest of them. So what to do with the invitation from the receiving part? Here you have three ways:

1. You can either ask your Russian lady to help you with this. She will most likely have to go to the Department of Visas and Registration (OVIR) and fill out all the necessary forms for the invitation. After she submits them, you have to wait for the response. A waiting period may take a month, but may take more. After your Russian girlfriend receives a paper with your invitation, she has to send it by mail to you. Why mail, because you have to have an original. If post office lost your invitation, you have to start all over, so make sure to use DHL or other available couriers in your girlfriend’s country.

2. If you go to Russian embassy website of your country you may see that they offer help with visas. For additional price they will create documents such invitation, hotel booking, and Russian National Tourist Office Booking for you. If you cannot find it on the website just pop them an email asking if they can advise you a reliable agency helping with visas. Usually these agencies are affiliated with the embassy, thus the documents they produce will be acceptable.

3. If you affiliate with some Russian dating website and found a woman you want to visit from this particular website, the admins may assist you with the visa as well. They don’t create these documents themselves but they will be able to also advise you on a reliable agency that will help you with this issue for an extra charge.

You may certainly try and do everything on your own and gather all the documents yourself. But I do advise you to use the tourist agencies in this situation. Some documents that Russian embassies demand are almost impossible to get. It is done precisely so you could go to the agency (affiliated with the embassy) and spend some extra cash. It is a closed circle. You have no choice. Russian embassies benefit greatly from that. Another important tip: star gathering the documents needed for visa way in advance. You don’t want to be in the situation where you bought a ticket but have not received you visa yet. If you are planning to go to Russia let’s say in June, have your documents ready by mid April. Certainly if you decide to do visa through the agency this rush may not be needed.

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