Dictionary of Terms

The documents connected with travel to Russia are often called by different names. To avoid confusion, check the quick definitions below.

Application Form
An official form which must be correctly completed and submitted to a Russian Consular Department in order to obtain a Russian Visa.

Business Visa
What we describe as a "business visa" here is also known as a "commercial visa". This is a visa designed for those doing business in Russia, and entitles you to spend a maximum of 90 days in the country during a six-month period. It is not the same as a "work visa", which is the same as a work permit in many other companies, and which can only be obtained if you have signed a contract with a Russian employer licensed to invite foreign workers.

Migration Card
A form which must be completed in duplicate at the point of entry into the Russian Federation, and submitted at passport control. A Migration Card is used to record your entry into the Russian Federation and your departure. You must keep your Migration Card with your Russian Visa until you depart.

The Federal Migration Service is the department of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs concerned with the issuing of visa invitations, work permits, and residence permits, and the registration of foreign visitors to the Russian Federation. The only reason why regular travelers should have direct contact with the service is if they lose any of their travel documents during their trip. The service has branch offices in all major cities and regional centers.

It is a requirement of Russian law that all foreign visitors be registered with the FMS (the Federal Migration Service) within seven working days of their arrival in a Russian city or region. The responsibility to register a foreign traveler in Russia lies with the party that issues visa support documents. Almost all hotels have the right to register those clients who are traveling on a one-month Tourist Visa, and other companies which offer visa support for any type of Russian visa should also be able to register their clients on arrival. It is, however, always worth checking with the company beforehand. Your registration is recorded on a separate form, which you should keep with you at all times, and must submit at passport control upon your departure from the Russian Federation.

Tourist Confirmation
Part of the visa support documentation required to apply for a Tourist Visa to Russia. The Tourist Confirmation is issued by a registered hotel, travel agency or tour operator, and states that they agree to take responsibility for you for the duration of your stay in the Russian Federation.

Tourist Voucher
The second half of the visa documentation required to apply for a Tourist Visa. A Tourist Voucher must be stamped and signed by a hotel or tour operator registered with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It confirms that you have booked accommodation in Russia for the duration of your stay. Together with the Tourist Confirmation, this is often referred to as an invitation for a Tourist Visa.

Visa Documentation
The official documents required to apply for a visa to Russia. If the application is for a single-entry Tourist Visa, then the visa documentation will comprise a copy of a Tourist Confirmation and a Tourist Voucher (can be fitted onto one A4 sheet, and accepted as a fax by most consular departments). If the application is for a multi-entry, Business or Private Visa, then the visa documentation must be the original copy of an official Business Visa Invitation or Private Visa Invitation issued/approved by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on behalf of the company or individual who is sponsoring your visa application.

Visa Invitation
This phrase is often used to refer to the documents required to apply for a Russian Visa (see Visa Documentation above). A Tourist Voucher and Tourist Confirmation together are often referred to as a visa invitation. Applications for Business Visas and Private Visas require the original copy of an official Invitation issued by the relevant government agency at the request of the individual or company sponsoring your visa application. As a rule, consular departments will not accept faxes or photocopies of Business or Private Visa Invitations.

Visa Support
Provision of the documents necessary to apply for a Russian Visa. Visa support for a Tourist Visa is the provision of a Tourist Voucher and Tourist Confirmation. Visa support for a Business Visa is the provision of an official Visa Invitation. Visa support should also include the registration of a traveler's visa on their arrival in the Russian Federation, but this is not always the case.