Over the last year, I’ve visited 14 countries and I’ve learned that every country has its own distinctive process for entry–and Russia is no exception. I’ve just made my way through the Russian process here in the United States and Katrin has done the same in Germany. We thought it might be helpful if we shared what we learned along the way. In either country, if you’re reading it now, get going! The best thing you can do is submit it in a timely fashion, saving that panicky feeling as your trip approaches.
From the United States
Where to Apply In the United States, you have to go through the designated Russia visa service agency, Invisa which has full instructions on its website. This doesn’t mean you to go, in person but you do need to choose the Visa Center (located in Washington, New York, San Francisco, Houston and Seattle). You submit your application in person or by mail.
What Kind of Visa Should I Apply For? They all cost the same. In an update, the Russian Consulate in the United States says
Please be advised that effective July 10, 2014 the new processing fees of $160 will be charged for non-urgent Russian single or double-entry visas in the business, private, humanitarian and tourist categories.
In this respect – in the purpose of full implementation of the Agreement between the Russian Federation and the United States of America on the simplification of visa formalities for nationals of the Russian Federation and nationals of the United States of America – we would recommend you apply for a three year multiple entry visa.
What do I need to submit with my application? Make sure you fill out the online application fully, and of course, save and print out a copy.
- Your passport, with an expiration date six months past your travel dates.
- Additional passport photos
- For a humanitarian visa, you need an invitation from ICOM Russia. They are happy to provide this to you. To receive an invitation, email email@example.com requesting one. In your email you need to include your full name as it appears on your passport; your passport expiration date (your three year visa will be shortened if your passport expires before three years); where you will be staying in St. Petersburg and Yaketerinburg and a scanned copy of your passport
- Payment via money order or certified check.
Once you have all your materials together (be sure and check that Invisa website to make sure you have everything you need) you can mail or deliver in person.
Unfortunately, the cost for Americans is relatively expensive (as it is to come here). You can also pay an additional $25 for the visa service mail processing to help correct any errors before submitting to the embassy. I did, and had several helpful phone calls.
If you submit by mail, make sure to send it via any trackable method. They will return it to you via UPS, usually in 10 days but sometimes it does take longer.
The best way to apply is using the Visa Handling Services (with service centers in Berlin, Leipzig, Hamburg, Frankfurt/ Main, München and Bonn). The website walks you through the procedure step by step, you will find the online form for your application here (to be printed out afterwards) and you can book an appointment for handing in your documents at one of the service centers.
You may apply for a single entry humanitarian visa. This comes completely free of charge, but you will need an invitation from ICOM Russia. They are happy to provide this to you. To receive an invitation, email firstname.lastname@example.org requesting one.
In your email you need to include (in English):
- Vorname, Nachname (first name, last name):
- Staatsangehörigkeit (nationality):
- Geschlecht (gender):
- Geburtsdatum (date of birth):
- Geburtsort (place of birth):
- Reisepassnummer (Passport number):
- Ausstellungsdatum des Reisepasses (date of issue):
- Ablaufdatum des Reisepasses (expiration date):
- Name der Institution/Arbeitsstelle (Museum, etc.)/(Institution´s name):
- Position/Tätigkeit (position):
- Dienstanschrift (professional adress):
- Dienstl. Telefonnummer (professional phone):
- Dienstl. Faxnummer (professional fax):
- Dienstl. E-Mail-Adresse (professional email):
- Einreisedatum (arrival date):
- Abreisedatum (departure date):
In general, you will need the following documents for your application:
the invitation from ICOM Russia
passport (valid for at least another 6 months after the end of your trip)
your visa application with a recent passport photo
proof of travel health insurance
(You may also include your flight itinerary, if you have booked your flight already, to confirm your travel dates.)
Please check the website for details on all these requirements (and any changes to the process in the meantime) and remember to apply for your visa in time. On average it will take 10 business days, but it can also be longer than that.
Our parting advice? We’re not experts and information can change. Please check the websites for the Russian Embassy in your country if you have any doubts or questions.