Damn useful this.
I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out how the Russian Visa system worked and how to get one (what's needed and the such like). So thought that as I'd spent so much time trying to figure it all out I'd do a quick write-up for any other Russian-trip virgins out there.
- You need a VISA to enter Russia.
- To get the Visa you need an invite from inside Russia.
- You DO NOT need to have a hotel pre-booked in order to get a VISA (but it is advisable - I'm not bothering as I'm not exactly sure of the date I'll be in certain places until I get there).
- If you plan on going to Kaliningrad then onto Russia main then you will need a double entry tourist visa, unless you get the ferry or flight from Kaliningrad straight into Russia, in which case you just need a single entry.
- If your taking a motorbike then ask for an "Auto-tourism" visa. You'll need to supply your bike details and the Russian consulate will then take note of your details and hopefully your crossing will be a bit smoother.
- Your VISA needs to be registered when you get to Russia if you are staying there for 3 days or more. If less than 3 days then the VISA DOES NOT need to be registered.
- Most major hotels will register your VISA for you when you check in for a small fee.
- If your not staying in a hotel and are staying for longer than 3 days then things get a bit complicated. See this website here for details on what you need to do.
- Some areas of Russia are restricted (and difficult to register your VISA in). For a list see here.
- To apply for a VISA you will need: A passport photo, your passort, an invitation letter and an application form (oh yes, and a bit of money).
- It took me less than 14 days from start to finish to get my VISA from realrussia, and I thoroughly recommend them! They sorted out the invite from inside russia, corrected my visa request from tourism to auto-tourism when I told them my travel plans, and gave plenty of advice. Their website is very useful as well.
- You can't apply for the VISA until you are within 90 days of entry. So plan to apply about 2 months before you enter Russia (just to be safe). Although applying about a week in advance should also be possible, but I wouldn't want to risk it.
- The double-entry auto-tourism visa I have is valid for 30 days.
I was a bit worried about how it all worked until ROBROY suggested using realrussia on this thread here.
On a side note: Be aware that you'll need an operating/import license for any GPS kit you take into Russia. I can't be bothered applying for one so am resorting to good old maps for this trip.
If you take a GPS device to Russia without this license then theres a chance that you'll either be denied entry or have it confiscated.
Damn useful this.
In process of applying. You have brought a couple of things to my attention that I had missed.
Many thanks LittleMark
Whatever you do don't overstay your visa !!! ]
I did this last year on my business visa and it took me 10 days to get out without my interpreter to smooth things out at all the various Ministries I think I'd still be there ... after all the fines, the mug shot and full hand prints were taken .. I'm now a criminal .. a big box of chocs and a bottle of champers discretely passed to the lovely miniskirted lady Major got me out in the end ....
Appears I was wrong about the GPS. The information on the Russian ministry site dates back to 1998. Lots of people discussing this on other sites (such as horizons unlimited) say it's no longer true, and everyone who's taken a GPS device has been fine.
Seems like the Russians just haven't updated their website, and so neither have the Foreign office
.If you wish to import certain sophisticated electronic items (e.g. Global Positioning System instruments), you must get an operating licence from the Russian authorities before you travel. If you are unsure whether you should declare an item or need an operating licence you should check with the Embassy of the Russian Federation before your departure.
Scroll down to the "Customs" section here.
Theres a very brief article about the russians freeing up the restriction in the Moscow Times. http://www.moscowtimes.ru/article/850/49/200123.htm
We had no problems at all with using GPS in Russia ... they did stop working near air bases though
Get a translation, in Russian, of your V5 registration document, from the RAC, before you go. This was the one most helpful document we had and it smooothed out the border crossings no end.
I loved Russia, fell in love with the place and it's people
similar process for the moto tour we're transiting across Russia.
Some of the invite agencies seem uncertain about motorbikes / vehicle requirements, so we've set up an account of our own directly with a large agency & can now get the letters of invitation (loi_ correctly issued for moto touring. We can have them issued within couple of days, or even same day.
You just need to list;
Your usual travel details, passport number,
motorbike details; chassis, reg, make, colour,
point of entry / exit (+ select a hotel - which we can also do for you)
pm me, if anyone needs any help on Russian loi :_)
The "Auto-Tourism" Visa didn't seem to make much of a difference (my mate was on a "vanilla" Visa). So up to you if you want to specify Auto-Tourism or not.
When you get to the border make sure you have a pen with you... theres lots of paperwork to do! The border guards on the whole don't seem to read English as the "Customs Declaration" you have to fill out we filled it out completely different when exiting than we did when entering. And have some Russian currency with you as you will need to buy insurance at the border post.
I DID take my GPS with me in the end (always good for finding hotels) and had no problems at all with the Police and Militia.
On the whole it wasn't as bad getting in and out as I thought it was going to be. It does take quite some time to do the paperwork, but it seemed like in the end the guards got bored of making us fill in bits of paper and let us in/out.
Visa didn't need registering as we were only there for 2 nights.
...hope others find this info useful.
Brilliant - this is really interesting - I'm hoping to get there at some point in the future, so I'll keep an eye on this- one question - you say you need an 'invite' to get a visa - how does that work? Is it just a matter of booking a hotel?
"There's no such thing as bad weather - just the wrong clothes"
as have many others on this site.
Your LOI is then submitted with your visa application to
who are doing all the visas in the UK for Russia nowadays.
The alternative is to use one of the agents to do the lot (LOI and visa appliction) for you. This will cost you more money and is not necessary as it is a relatively simple matter.
Hope this helps.
We should learn from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism. [/I]
It needs to be made quite clear that a British Citizen cannot obtain a Russian visa outside of UK, else you end up like a member of this forum having to come home from eastern Turkey when trying to get a ferry from Trabzon to Sochi
When you need a longer visa, say 3 months then you'll need to invent a business letter etc.
The police/security services will get quite excited if you use walkie talkies on the Moscow inner ring road....try not to mention the word bomb or similar
GPS no probs.
Cops west of Urals, big prob.
off topic but a guy I work with is marrying a Russian girl he met on the internet a few months ago.
Unfortunately she has no money so he is having to pay for everything.
He was telling me about all the paperwork and running around he has to do before he goes out and brings her home.
Sounds a bit odd to me
Better to be safe and get everything in the UK
We should learn from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism. [/I]
The Russian border officials seem to concentrate on getting the paper-work right - application for person with passport and visa, and application for motorcycle with original Irish registration form and Russian road insurance. Crossing in 2005 on E77 near Pskov traveling on R1100RT with wife took an hour after queuing for 3 hours, and in 2008 on E30 near Smolensk took about 2 hours for a party of 12 bikes with an interpreter as we ignored cars queuing and drove straight to HGV park! Exiting Russia was straight forward both times, but the Estonian border police at Narva concentrated on matching the bike frame number to the Irish registration paper, and then inspecting contents of panniers (whereas the Russians never left their kiosks).
The info about visa requirements for travel in Russia is handy but I wonder if it is still up to date as your post was last sent nearly 3 years ago.
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