There are already a ton of sites who try to explain you Russian visas, so I will stick here to inform you of what is not written there, mostly, how to get a Russian visa outside of your home country. In general, it’s very difficult. There is no consistency in the rules and it changes on a monthly basis, based on the ambassador’s mood and the relation of the Kremlin with the government of the country you are applying in.
At the moment (July 2016), you can get a Russian tourist visa easily (and cheaply) in Tashkent, and transit visas relatively easy in Tblisi, Dushanbe, Ulan Bator and Almaty.
A word on the Russian transit visa
For a Russian transit visa you need proof of onward travel (transport tickets from Russia to another country) and a visa for the country of destination, unless you’re driving yourself. No letter of invitation is needed, so you’re saving money. Transit visas are given for 1 to 10 days, depending on the distance and your mode of transport.
If you are traveling by airplane, you will get a transit visa until the day you have to catch your second plane (no more than 3 days). By train, it depends on the length of your journey (eg. Moscow – Vyborg: 1 day, Moscow – Nakhodka: 8 days). By car, divide the distance you need to cover by 500 to estimate the number of days you will get. Be ready to use your visa, Russian visas are date-specific. By bicycle: not sure if it is at all possible. I think it depends on the ambassador.
Russian visa application on the road
We do not get so many embassy reports from Russian embassies, so the following is just to give you ideas of possible futures, not exact guides. Things change quickly for Russian visas, so do double-check with the embassy in advance if someone bothers to pick up the phone.
Updates collected here – Contact details and fees on their website
Zhandosov Street 4, near the corner with Manas Street – Google Maps – Printshop, Atm, Exchange around the consulate
Opening times: Tuesday morning 9.30 to 12.30 and Friday afternoon 15.00 to 17.00. Window 3.
September 2016: Two British passports with 30-day, double-entry visas, gained successfully express for about 70,000 tenge each in Almaty.
August 2016: Transit visa, 3-day turnaround 70 eur, 7 days wait 35 eur. Easy.
August 2016: We just (August 2016) received our Russian 30-days TOURIST VISA in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Appointment not needed, proof of residence not needed. LOI was a copy, but this was accepted by the consulate.
Prices: 261 USD express (apply on Fri, collect on Tue or opposite) – 151 USD normal (1 week, Fri to Fri or Tue to Tue)
They tell the price in USD but you HAVE to pay in Tenge, it’s a bit confusing. These prices are only for Swiss passports. At least for EU-Schengen passports it is much cheaper, around 70/35 Euro.
These documents each of us submitted:
– 1 Application form (filled out online and then printed: )
– 1 Colorprint of the LOI
– 1 Colorcopy of passport (don’t know if needed in color)
– 1 4.5 by 3.5 photo, glued to the application form
– 1 copy of health insurance
– 1 copy of balance statement from bank account
– 1 Letter of Employment (just one of us, probably not needed, but they took it)
Entrance to the visa section is at the west side of the building (on the public parking site). Both times we went there about 20 minutes before opening and both times 20 to 30 people were already waiting. Once they open the first gate you have to put your bags in the lockers. Then join the crowd in front of the stairs. Applicants for visas wait on the left side of the stairs (there is no proper queue). Don’t worry, most people are there for other issues. Both times we had to wait about 1 hour until they let us in. First they checked our passport and then pointed us to desk 3 where we submitted our documents.
July 2016: UK citizen got denied transit visa (by bicycle – ha!) and tourist visa (we don’t like UK this week).
June 2016: Easy transit visa. Online visa form (completed online)
– 1 x Copy of Passport
– 1 x Copy of onward visa (if needed, Mongolia in our case)
– Printed reservations of all train tickets. We needed to book a reservation for a flight from Ulan Ude to Ulan Bator (which we later cancelled at no cost as the bus is loads cheaper though can not be booked online).
– Bookings of any accommodation. Told to come back in 7 days and it was ready.
Note: We had to pay the fee in Tenge, not USD. The visa guy at window 3 is super friendly and helpful.
November 2015: Now asking for a proof of residence for the last 90 days and a return ticket.
September 2015: 3 days turnaround 27000 tenge for UK citizen.
August 2015: They need the original LOI, which you need to get sent from Moscow, or a very good copy, as seems to be the case with the July report.
July 2015: Tourist visa success for Dutch passport. I needed: copy of tourist visa support, application form, passport, copy of passport, 4.5 by 3.5 photo, glued to the application form, copy of health insurance, balance statement from bank account (this was actually not on the website but I brought it anyway and they wanted it). I applied Tuesday morning and got it Friday afternoon. I asked for it to be less than a week and this was possible. I am not sure if I had to pay more because of this (although I said that I was willing to pay more). In the end I paid 14.500 tenge. As usual, I had to pay in advance, but the guy at the counter (friendly and good English) said that it was 99% sure that I would get it. The copies were all colour copies and the visa support was done on thick paper (I did this in Tashkent at the same place as I did the stuff for the China visa in Tashkent and they used this paper for all colour copies), so the guy may have been fooled that the visa support was the actual document, but I am not sure.
May 2013: American citizen with Turkish residence permit. Of course as bureaucratic as I thought it would be; they wanted the original visa support document, not just the copy that Realrussia had sent me by email. After getting that shipped in, they were only going to provide me with a single-entry 30-day visa instead of the new 3-year multiple entry issued to Americans, but after a detailed conversation I convinced the embassy staff that I wasn’t just trying to live in Moscow for 3 years. They did some checking, and 30 minutes later said they hadn’t known about the new visa before, I was right (!), and were ready to issue it. $450 (!) same day processing.
The embassy is open for visa applications twice a week. Current opening hours are given on their website (in English). When you arrive at the front door, make it clear that you are there for a visa – when I was there they had closed down for overcrowding, but this was relevant only for the Russian consular section. On the website there is all information listed regarding the papers needed for the transit visa (YOU HAVE TO HAVE THE TRAVEL DOCUMENT FIRST). Make sure you fill the online form and that you print it, they refuse it if it’s handwritten.
August 2015: The Russian embassy in Astana can issue an “urgent” transit visa on the same day; the guy at the counter is quite friendly and speaks English relatively well. I did not apply for a tourist visa (although I had the necessary LOI also prepared), as the transit visa was easier to get. Costs seem to depend on nationality (for Germany/ France: 14.400 Tenge, i.e. ca 75 USD). A “standard” transit visa should cost about half of that, but will take about a week (according to the information of the embassy). Officially you can pay also with credit card, but in my case the terminal was broken, so it’s a good idea to have sufficient amount of money (Tenge, not USD!) with you.
June 2013: Same Day Service, 13900 Tenge. Waited around 3 hours in front of the Embassy. Very nerveracking, but rewarding in the end. There are rumors that the Russians are about to set new regulations: you’ll only get a Visa (Tourist or Transit) if you are staying a minimum of 90 days in Kazakhstan.
August 2015: Not possible at all, not even transit visa. You need 3 months minimum residency in Kyrgyzstan to apply.
October 2013: How to get a Russian visa anno 2013 in Bishkek.
September 2012: A comment from a Belgian couple traveling by car: We were informed that in Bishkek they do NOT issue transit visa for Russia either if you do not have a Kyrgystan visa in your passport. As we are belgian, we do not longer need a visa for Kyrgystan, but apparently the Russian embassy does not take this into consideration.
June 2012: For a tourist visa, the consulate wants the original LOI, which would cost 35$ + 65$ shipping. Transit visas are also very, very, very difficult. A German cyclist tells us the following:
For the transit I booked my trains through Russia as they told me. Then the woman at the consulate said, that my Kyrgyz visa has to be valid when I enter Russia. (Why? I travel through Kazakhstan! Okay then get your Russian visa there).
I extended my Kyrgyz visa. Up to 30th of July, just like the Kazakh one. Now she told me: firstly, you have to apply for your visa not more than two weeks before entering Russia. Secondly, your Kyrgyz visa has to be valid at least up to one month after entering Russia. Thirdly, get your visa in Kazakhstan if you want.
Note: it’s the Russian consulate that handles visa issues, not the embassy! 38.582656N,68.753876E (Abuali Ibn Sino 29/31)
August 2016: Transit visa. Prepare documents on visa.kbmid.ru Express processing available. 70 eur. 1 day turnaround.
June 2016: Transit visa: they will give me 6 days from 5-10 July in UK passport for $116 urgent processing 2 days
June 2016: The Russian embassy in Dushanbe does not issue tourist visas for non Tajik residents (you’d need to show an OVIR registration longer than 30 days). Fill the online form and print it, 2 pics, passport copy, 2 blank pages in your passport (that are facing each other!), and the visa fee. AU passport transit visa costs USD$70 7 days, or USD$105 express 2-3 days. EU transit visa costs EUR 35 in 5 days, or EUR 70 in 2 days. If you plan to transit from KAZ to Georgia the approval time is 10 days because of instability in that area, and “it takes more time to make sure you aren’t terrorists”.
June 2015: 1 week turnaround for a transit visa, 40$ for 4 days (traveling by car).
June 2013: Russian Tourist visa 46$ (but citizenship related) 7 days to issue with supporting papers; very crowded but can get past the locals and enter in front (just say that you need tourist visa)
November 2011: American passport holder obtained 30-day tourist visa with LOI.
Polish passport couple, with only a 30-day Tourist visa for Tajikistan, obtained 30-day Russian tourist visa, on same day, for USD 90 with visa support (LOI).
Canadian passport, 30-day Tajik tourist visa, could get 30-day Russia Tourist Visa by submitting visa support and 5,000 Tajik Som …. i think they meant 500 Tajik Som which is approx USD 113.00 which might be correct.
Hong Kong embassy
May 2016: For visitors without a HKID or a visa to stay more than 90 days it would take at least 10 business days to process our applications, with no express processing option.
August 2015: We were in and out of the empty, air conditioned Russian embassy within 10 minutes and got our visas in 3 days (including the day we applied and the day we picked them up). They also do the cheaper but longer 5 day turn around. They are open Monday to Friday and most of the staff spoke English.
Kuala Lumpur embassy
August 2015: We were told you need more than 90 days on your Malaysian visa for them to issue russian visas. Not sure what nationalities this applies to but we have British passports.
April 2015: Both residents and non-residents of Malaysia can apply for their visas provided they can show a 90 days tourist entry stamp available for most nationalities. You can only apply 1 month in advance, it seems.
What is required:
-Duly compiled application form which can only be printed. No handwriting. Must be compiled online at visa.kdmid.ru
-Good copy of invitation letter and tourist voucher, possibly in color.
– Most European nationalities need original of travel insurance which covers the period of stay in Russia. No insurance no chance.
Normal processing time: 7 to 10 working days. Cost for Italian passport holder was 175RM
Visa office opens ONLY ON Monday- Wednesday – Friday from 9.30 am to 1 pm. Go early as queues are normal, place is small and cramped, and the lady in charge will go by the number of registration in their books when you enter the premises.
SUGGESTIONS: Don’t ask for 30 days or you might be rejected. I have been instructed to ask for less than 20 days, asked for 18 and had no problems. Met a French couple who signed up for 25 days, and were instead allowed that time frame. It’s a bit of a hit or miss, and the lady, a Malaysian, can get a bit grumpy when under stress. The better shape your documents are in, the best chance you stand to get exactly what you apply for.
Once documents are accepted, you must go to the RHB bank close to Ampang Park (catch a bus from outside the embassy and get off about 3 stops after, direction KL city centre) and pay your consular fees. Use the slips provided by the bank and write clearly. Return to the embassy, go directly to the consular window bypassing the Malaysian lady, and deal with the more accommodating Russian staff.
All in all, not too bad, but be prepared to deal with the Malaysian lady and stand your ground She is very polite if you show her all the right documents, but loses her temper when under stress.
June 2016: We got our Russian tourist visa easily through the VFS Global Russian Visa Application Centre today in Seoul. You can apply between 9am and 3pm Mon to Fri. We took our printed application form with passport photo attached, passports, and LOI and tourist voucher. Copies are fine. We paid the visa fee and processing fee in cash (in South Korean Won). You are given a receipt which you need to keep to collect your passports. Our application took 10 working days, but if you have an Alien Registration Card it is much quicker. If you don’t have an ARC there is no express processing option.
You collect your passports between 11am and 4pm. All very easy and the staff are very friendly! Staff are responsive to emails too if you have questions. Location and contact details of VFS.
June 2016: Very easy place to get your Russian Tourist visa…and way cheaper than in Georgia thanks to the fact that you can pay in sums (read about the unofficial exhange rate). Same process as described. We had to pay 160,000 sums each for the 30 day tourist visa. It was ready in 4 days and we also asked them not to keep the passports (so we can process another visa at the same time and use the metro without issues). We brought our booking.com confirmations printed from the emails in black and white, no issues.
As an advice, bring your itinerary with the names and addresses of the hotels in a separate sheet of paper to serve you as a guidance to fill in a questionnaire they provide. We had to be asking back and forth for the paperwork we had handed in already. The lady was super nice to do it gladly… but just in case.
You can’t bring in your phones or bags. Bring your stash of cash in a separate little bag or in your pockets to go inside. When you arrive go straight to the door and say tourist visa. Very little English spoken…if any.
June 2016: It took 4 days and 128000 som for 30 day tourist visa (we have to ask the entry/exit dates). Needed passport, photocopy of the ID page, Letter of invitation. Insurance. One picture. Regular size, to stick in the form.
The online filled and printed form. You will find it here : http://visa.kdmid.ru. 128000 som for regular (4 days) the double for express (2 days). Strangely, they didn’t accepted USD.
Go to the ambassy. The entrance is on the other side of the main official door. A lot of people wait, just go to the entrance line and say you come for visa, you should pass quickly. Take your money because you must pay when you ask the visa.
No refund if visa is denied. You will keep your passport during the waiting time, not like before. So they will make you write a letter to ask the right to keep your passport during the process. An ambassy guy speaking english may come to help a little, sometime…
It’s 4 days waiting but you must take an appointment for the visa recovery. If you are not free four day after, you can ask another day, after. The appointment will be at 12:00.
June 2016: We got Visa in 3 days for 80$! (Two persons 16 days). You have to pay in Sum cash.
Don´t wait in the front of embassy – say only “Visa” to police and you can enter soon.
Don´t go to the office in front of embassy, it´s a “money catcher” with making copies and filling up online application. You can do everything by your own.
Transit visas are issued from the Russian Interests Section at the Swiss Embassy in Tbilisi (N41.71121 E044.74305 map). Don’t go to the actual Swiss Embassy, the Russian Interests is a different building across the other side of the city. The embassy is open 9am – 2pm for applications. Updates collected here.
September 2016: 10 days processing time, 100$ for Australian.June 2016: We also applied for a transit visa in Tbilisi and was ready on the 5th day.
We arrived to the Embassy at 1:10pm on a Monday. There are a lot of people outside. Just skip them and go straight in. Once the police guards figure out you are a foreigner they will let you go through. The very friendly guy on the first checkpoint told us to wait for Window #1.
The lady in there speaks very little English but was very friendly. The consul came out to tell us we didn’t really need a visa for transiting on an airport, that we could just wait in there for 16 hours. We explained we wanted to visit Moscow even if it was only for few hours. He smiled, said, “oh, you want to visit Red Square! Ok, no problem”.
They gave us a voucher to come back on that Friday between 9am and 1:30pm.What we brought:
– The Russian Application filled online and printed (in English) with photo glued on it.
– One extra passport photo
– Our Flight tickets
– Copy of our Uzbek visa
– Copy of the Georgian stamp on the passport
– Copy of our passport
– Our passports
They gave us a paper to fillout right there that was fully in Russian. We asked for help as they don’t have the forms in English and the lady that takes the foreigners also doesn’t speak English. Basically is just your name, last name, type of visa (TR2 for Transit) and I think that was it. They will help you.Then we paid by credit card on the cash register inside the Embassy. Please do ask the lady to check her tables well. At the beginning we were being charged $285USD! After the initial shock and her noticing our faces, she checked again…twice! The price dropped to $85USD for Irish Passport and $55USD for Mexican passport.They do keep your passports in there. We thought we might had issues when checking in at hotels, but this wasn’t an issue. Just carry a copy with you.
June 2016: As noted before in the visa section, all papers listed were necessary. We arrived at 09hrs opening time but were told to return at 1130hrs when the Consul would be present. We had a pleasant chat (in English) with the Consul, he said “no problem”. Deposited our papers on 10 June and told to return on 24 June to receive our passports. French passport (5 working days normally) and $75 USD, Canadian passport (10 working days) $135USD. We paid by VISA card, no problem. Paid inside the embassy. Inside embassy are photocopy machines and photo machines. Outside the embassy are a collection of Ford Transit vans that do printing and photocopying (and prepare visa online).
April 2015: there were two very helpful young guys who spoke English who ushered us through into a waiting room and asked us to wait 20 minutes for the Diplomat to arrive. Dimitri arrived exactly 20 minutes later, perfect English, very helpful, said a transit visa would be no problem and take 10-days to process and gave us a list of what we needed. You need to know the exact entry and exit dates into and out of Russia and they will look at your route and decide how many days your transit visa can be; we only had 3 days. They are very strict on this so plan your route and time carefully. As a rule we read that they expect you to travel between 400-500km a day.
For a transit visa application you need;
- Completed application form, in English, online from the website https://visa.kdmid.ru/PetitionChoice.aspx save as a PDF, print and sign
- Original passport
- Copy of passport
- Copy of visa for onward travel from Russia (Kazakhstan for us)
- Copy of Georgia entry stamp in passport
- Copy of personal insurance certificate
- 1 x passport photo
- $60 cash only (costs may differ for other nationalities)
We also took (but didn’t need to show)
- Hotel booking confirmations (if you use www.booking.com you can always cancel afterwards without paying anything). We also used these hotel bookings (name, address, telephone number) as our ‘contacts in Russia’ in the application form.
- Car registration documents and driving licenses
On our return the next day we arrived at 10am, went straight to an application window, submitted our documents and paid the $60. We were given a receipt (keep safe – you need this to collect your passports) and told to come back at 2pm 10-days later to collect our passports and visa. All done in 15 minutes.
We collected our passports and visa at exactly 2pm 10-days later, absolutely no problem – the guys let us in early to wait and all embassy staff were very friendly and helpful throughout.
August 2014: Come very early, get help from the sharks standing outside. 10 days turnaround for transit visa, 50$. Germans will have a very hard time/don’t stand a chance.
Consulate is located @ 35.697376, 51.414698 (the embassy, which is across the street, does not handle visa applications). Updates collected here.
June 2016: Only open to Iranians.
Ulan Bator embassy
September 2016: transit visas was simple and the young guy serving us was welcoming and even gave us options for our varied purposes. You are expected to pay in USD cash on application. But, as they only have a 1hr window for all foreigners it’s impossible to go get the cash if you don’t have it – so they let it slide and we went back the next day at 9am. We had old passport photos and just the basic supporting documents, they barely checked them nor question the photos which were not to the exact measurements.
2015: Russian visas are impossible to get in Ulan Bator for many nationalities, however for some countries it’s quite easy; here’s the list.
2014: For transit visa (self-drive) only car documents are necessary. For public transport transit visa, it is complicated (pronounce: impossible – September 2014) Tourist visas are possible through a tourist agency.
For transit visa (self-drive) only car documents are necessary. Costs depending on length of visa, speed of processing and nationality, ranging from 50 to 200$. No recent info on tourist or business visa.
July 2014: I tried to apply for a Tourist visa. I was sent home because the consulate only issues tourist visas for Armenian passport holders OR for foreigners with an Armenian residence card. Bad luck, I had to cancel the trip to Russia. There is another Russian consulate in Gyumri, but I don’t know about the rules there. Also I don’t know if it’s possible to get at least a transit visa at both places.
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