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.
The consulate in Georgia is quite known to be the easiest in the region, but this is no guarantee. Look below for latest updates.
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.
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.
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.
August 2014: Almaty has been issuing Russian visa recently.
April 2013: You need to make an appointment in advance if you want to apply for a visa. You get the appointment by calling the consulate. I came today without and managed to get in anyway, although I had to wait for 3 hours.
What you need to obtain a tourist visa:
1. to be a resident of Kazakhstan, or have student visa, etc.
2. application form filled out.
3.Original LOI, copy won’t do
4. bank statement showing that you have 100 pound pr day you’re visa is valid.
5. copy of passport + kazakh visa
6. insurance + copy of the insurance policy
I didn’t get one.
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)
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
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.
September 2013: I’m traveling on a swiss passport. Went to Russian embassy on monday at 09:50. A crowd was waiting in front of the door and I kindly informed the officer that I was here to apply for a tourist visa. I had to wait 5 minutes before he called me and a few other people who where here for business visa. You need to find your way to a room with a lot of desks and go to the first desk right in front of the door. The girl checked the document very carefully so here is the important things :
For schengen countries they ask to see the original of insurance policy. I had mine scanned and sent to me by email from Switzerland. Then I just made a good quality print from a photo printing shop and a black and white bad quality print to show as copy. It went out fine. I also did a good quality print of the voucher.
After all documents are accepted, you get back a file with your documents and passport with a number on it. You will be requested to go to the cashier (kassa) and pay for your visa in advance. The cashier will keep your files after you paid.
When filling the application form, make sure to report the exact information you gave for the voucher. It helps to have everything “making sense”. Report the name of inviting organization, reference number and confirmation number from your voucher.
List of required documents :
– Travel voucher with attached confirmation (contain reference number and confirmation number, you can order it online)
– 1 completed and printed application form from http://visa.kdmid.ru
– 1 copy of ID page of your passport
– 1 picture
– US dollars, visa need to be paid in advance, no refund (46$ standard 4 working days / 92$ express 1 working day)
! Additional ! only for Shengen countries, Estonian, and Israeli citizens :
– “Original” of insurance policy valid in Russia + copy
– Copies of insurance card (recto verso)
September 2012: A comment from a Belgian couple travelling by car: We tried to get Russian transit visa to get to Mongolia but in the Russian embassy in Tashkent they do not longer issue transit visa for self-drive tourists. In the end, we paid a tourist visa through a tour operator (Navigator) for 150 usd per person for 30 days, double entry. We applied on the 27th of September and will get the passport back on the 3rd of October.
May 2012: I got a Russian tourist visa at the embassy in Tashkent in May 2012 with little problem – cost $46. I am British, but I am resident in Tashkent and I speak Russian, which definitely helped. They insisted on seeing the original of my LOI rather than a copy I’d received by email which meant it had to be sent to me by courier from Moscow.
Transit visas are issued from the Russian Interests Section at the Swiss Embassy in Tbilisi (for location click here). 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.
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.
Ulan Bator embassy
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. Chinese visas are easy enough to get in UB now.
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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