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Russia visa question....

Travel Forums Europe Russia visa question....

1. Posted by Arsis2323 (Budding Member 18 posts) 7y

Hey quick question about visas as before i've always gotten them upon arrival at a new country......As far as i know Canadians (& most nationalities) have to obtain a visa from their own government before entering Russia.....does anyone know roughly how long these take to get?? more importantly does the visa have to be date specific or can i validate it at any time upon my arrival in Russia??

I am planning on traveling through asia & hopefully to Russia after but won't have arrival dates determined beforehand as i tend to go with the flow......any feedback appreciated.....

2. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 7y

Russian visas are probably one of the most bothersome to get. It's not hard, it just requires a lot more crap than most do. First point is that you get the visa from the Russian government, not your own.

Assuming you are Canadian (seeing as you mentioned Canadians in your post), you might want to check out the website of Russian Embassy in Canada. It has information on getting a 30 day tourist visa or a longer study or cultural purposes visa.

First you need to get an invitation letter. If you are going with a tour company or for business or study, the company / organisation you are dealing with should provide this for you. If you are going independently, than you can get one for a fee from a tourist company in Russia. Way To Russia is a popular site for this.

Once you get your invite letter, you fill out the application and get a picture and you are away to the races.

Once you have this, then you just need to go to one of the visa processing offices in Canada. There is one in Toronto and one in Montreal. If you can't go in person, then you can mail your application in or hire someone to do it for you. I don't know where you hire these people, probably from tourist agencies, but I ran into a guy at the Russian consulate who had about 10 applications for 10 people.

I went in person, and it wasn't bad at all. I paid for the rush processing to get it in 1-3 days, but if you have the time you can wait for the regular service 4-20 days.

The invitation letter doesn't take long to get - 1 day. Then it's between another 3 to 20 days, depending on if you pay for rush processing or not.

As for the dates, generally it does have to be exact (unlike many other visas), and for travel in the next 3 months. I got my visa to cover a 30 day window, though I only stayed in Russia for a week (just in case). As I had a set itinerary, I did enter Russia on the first day my Visa was valid. I am not sure how much flexibility one has with that. Perhaps another poster can help out.

Finally, make sure you get your visa registered at the first place you stay, and any place you stay for more than 3 days after that.


3. Posted by bentivogli (Travel Guru 2398 posts) 7y

Quoting GregW

I am not sure how much flexibility one has with that. Perhaps another poster can help out.

As I remember, none at all. We went with a large group (200+), and four of those had applied for visa themselves, i.e. with different entry-exit dates from the rest of us, because they originally planned to do some independent travelling. They changed their plans but not their visa, and both entering and leaving led to a LOT of hassle at St Petersburg airport for them. Eventually they were admitted as well as permitted to leave, but based on this one experience I'd strongly recommend that you follow visa rules to the letter when it comes to Russia.

4. Posted by Redpaddy (Inactive 1004 posts) 7y

As Posts #2# and #3# have already said, Russian visas are never flavour of the month when it comes to being the easiest to get.
If you fire up Yahoo! or Google, there are many excellent agencies there, that not only arrange all your visas (for a fee of course), but also give excellent impartial advice.
Eastern European countries love paperwork. It's a thing they treasure. Just paying a local taxes bill in Bulgaria involves a roll of paper like a shopping receipt from a supermarket.
As long as every 'i' is dotted and every 't' is crossed, it should go as smooth as only they know how it can go.
However, one error and you'll be wondering sometimes why you ever chose Russia.
Good luck.

5. Posted by Gekko HQ (Budding Member 7 posts) 7y

I had to go to Moscow to compete at a sailing world championships in 2005. Getting the Visa was tough, and you have to jump through a fair few hoops to get them, travel to the Russian Embassy, wait in long lines and just generally dance to their tune for a while.

Do your research and you'll figure it out, but give yourself plenty of time and get to the embassy early. I missed my first appointment to pick mine up at the Embassy because the line was so long outside. They gave everyone (about 15 people missed out) two choices, go home and try again tomorrow, or pay an extra £100 for a fast track visa. I had no choice and ended up paying the extra. :(

6. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 7y

Quoting Gekko HQ

I had to go to Moscow to compete at a sailing world championships in 2005.

That's very cool. I used to sail competitively, but never got to compete in another country... The best I ever got to do is go to a different lake to compete...

...I guess I just wasn't that good.

7. Posted by Redpaddy (Inactive 1004 posts) 7y

It's that sinking feeling

8. Posted by GregW (Travel Guru 2635 posts) 7y

Quoting Redpaddy

It's that sinking feeling

Sinking!?! I wasn't that bad a sailor!

9. Posted by trainrider (Full Member 95 posts) 7y

Im currently in the process of applying for a russian visa. From what I've read on it doesn't matter if you enter russia after your visa begins as long as you leave before it expires. I plan to be in Russia for about 2 weeks. My visa will begin and end about a week before and after.