Last updated on October 9th, 2017
Have you ever thought of visiting Russia? Actually, it’s not so hard to get a Russian visa at all. Moreover, there is a way to visit Russia without visa. In this post, I’ll tell you everything about Russian visa policy. So let’s get started!
How to visit Russia without visa?
Did you know that you can visit Russia without visa for 72 hours no matter which passport do you hold? I bet you didn’t.
However, this applies to the entries by ferry from Helsinki or Tallinn to Saint Petersburg only. Or to transit entries to Kaliningrad. There are also other ports like Anadyr, Kaliningrad, Novorossiysk, Sevastopol, Sochi and Vladivostok, but I guess, St. Petersburg is the easiest option!
In other words, you have to go to Finland or Estonia, buy a ferry ticket to Saint Petersburg with St. Peter Line, a cruise company, and decide what you are going to do there within these 72 hours! Not bad, huh?
72 hours/24hours =3 days
3 full days in the country without any paperwork and visa fees. 3 days in Russia without visa for anybody! Most probably, you will only be able to visit St. Petersburg, however, it is technically possible to visit Moscow too. Just buy a speed train ticket, so the journey to Moscow takes only 4 hours or a flight (which is around 1 hour).
Attention: you also need to hold a hotel reservation, when you enter Russia and that’s quite a strict rule.
Personally, I would recommend you to stay in St. Petersburg only and see the city properly (anyways, you won’t be able to see everything since the city is huge and beautiful; moreover, it has many suburbs with fabulous palaces).
Let’s go back to the ways of visiting Russia. We’ve already covered the first and simplest way, so I’ll carry on with the most popular one – obtaining Russian visa in advance.
Russian visa policy – obtaining Russian visa
Whether you need the visa or not, depend on your nationality. If you hold a passport of following countries, you’re lucky and you don’t need Russian visa.
Don’t need a visa:
Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Fiji, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kirghiz Republic, Macao, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Serbia, Seychelles, South Korea, Thailand, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela.
But if you don’t hold one of the EU passports or other passports, not mentioned above, don’t worry, you’re still able to get a visa. And it’s not as complicated as it seems.
Russia has a bit weird visa policy. You have 2 options: apply for a normal tourist visa or a visitor visa, but, in this case, you need an invitation of a Russian citizen who lives in the city which you’re going to visit.
Let’s talk about the first case. You’ll need the following documents (check them online here). And a travel agency which is authorized to issue visas to Russia (the easiest method). You need to fill the papers in advance and arrive at this agency. If you pay extra, you don’t even need to fill your papers – the agency will do that for you. The agency will issue you a travel voucher which allows you to visit Russia. So you wait for a week and here you are – your visa is ready to collect. However, it’s quite expensive. Also, the fingerprints need to be provided in some of the local offices of your country (in the UK it’s Edinburgh or London).
In other words, according to Pepe (co-author of this blog and my other half) who got his visa 2 months ago, you need to:
1 – Find the closest visa centre (Google helps)
2 – Buy a travel voucher (can also be obtained from a booked hotel – just drop them a line asking for the voucher, and they gonna send it to you).
3 – Buy a travel insurance for Russia (again, Google)
4 – Get a passport size photograph
5 – Bank statements for proof of residence in the country, where you are currently residing
6 – Fill online application form https://visa.kdmid.ru/PetitionChoice.aspx (some of the previous docs are needed to fill the application)
7 – Bring all the documents to the visa application centre, go through finger scanning procedure & photo taking
8 – wait 1 week
….and voila! Your Russian visa is ready.
In case, you have some friends who could invite you officially, you can save a significant amount of money, but keep in mind that it’s a lot of paperwork for your friends (Russia is unfortunately very bureaucratic). In this case, you don’t need a voucher from an agency or a hotel reservation. And you also have a chance to get a visa for 3 months instead of just one month.
None of my friends or people I know was refused Russian visa, so don’t worry about that and good luck 🙂 However, if you’re going to Helsinki or Tallinn anytime soon, don’t forget about the amazing opportunity of visiting Russia without visa!
More posts about traveling to Russia:
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