Russian Visas: Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a Russian visa?

The answer is almost certainly yes. You can find a list of the countries with visa-free travel regimes here, and details of the limited opportunities to visit St. Petersburg by cruise ship or ferry without a visa. In all other cases, no matter what the purpose of your visit, you will need a Russian visa to enter the Russian Federation.

Can I get a Russian visa on arrival?

No. Russian visas are only issued by Russian consular departments or licensed visa centers. Moreover, depending on your nationality, you may not be able to apply for a Russian visa at all consular departments. As a rule of thumb, Russian consular departments will only issue visas to nationals who can prove that they are entitled to live in the country where they are applying for at least six months. Before ordering visa support documents, you should always check where you are going to make your visa application.

What type of Russian visa do I need?

There are various different types of Russian visa depending on the length of your stay and the purpose of your visit, but for most visitors the standard Russian Travel Visa, single-entry or double-entry and valid for up to 30 days, will suffice. You can find out more about the different types of Russian visa here.

How can Saint-Petersburg.Com help me get a Russian visa?

If you are booking accommodation with us - at hotels, hostels, or apartments - we can provide you free of charge with the visa support documents necessary to apply for a Russian Tourist Visa. Please note that, if you wish to book accommodation on Booking.com and get free visa support from us, you must follow a link from this website to Booking.com and then book during the same session without closing your browser/the relevant tab or window. Otherwise, we will have no record of your reservation and will not by law be able to issue visa support documents for you.

You can also order invitations and visa support documents for other types of Russian visa from our partners through our website.

What are visa support documents?

In the case of a Russian Tourist Visa, visa support documents consist of a Tourist Confirmation and a Tourist Voucher confirming that you have booked accommodation for all of your stay in Russia. Most consular departments and visa centers will accept faxed or scanned copies of these documents (one side of A4 paper) but you should check before you apply - we can courier the original documents to you for an additional fee. Other types of visa require an Invitation issued by the Russian Ministry of the Interior, and in most cases consular departments require the original copy. You can order visa support for other types of visa - or for Tourist Visas if you are not booking with us - from our partners through our website.

If I'm only booking accommodation with you for part of my stay in Russia, can you help me with visa support?

If you are not booking accommodation for all of your stay in Russia (for example, if you plan to stay in a hotel for a few days and then stay with friends), you should contact our visa experts for assistance BEFORE BOOKING to find out how we can help with visa support. If you are booking accommodation with different providers (for example, booking a hotel with us in St. Petersburg and then an apartment in another Russian city through a different agency), we can only issue visa support for the dates and accommodation you have booked with us, and you should contact the other accommodation provider to obtain a second set of visa support documents covering the other part of your stay.

Please remember that you can accommodation with us anywhere in Russia by following a link from this website to Booking.com. Provided you book accommodation in one session without closing your browser or the relevant tabs, we will have a record of all your bookings in Russia and will be able to issue visa support for your entire stay.

What else do I need to apply for a Russian visa?

Requirements vary depending on your nationality and where you are applying. All details should be checked with the Russian consular department or visa center where you plan to apply for your visa. In most cases, you will need to have a passport valid for at least six months after your planned trip to Russia, and with at least two blank pages. You will also normally have to show evidence that you have health insurance valid in Russia for the length of your stay. In addition, you will have to complete and submit the correct application form (available here), and supply recent passport photographs (again, the number and format may vary from consulate to consulate). If you are applying for a visa for longer than three months, you may also have to provide the results of an HIV test.

What is visa registration?

When you arrive in the Russian Federation, the "receiving party" (the company or individual who has provided you with visa support documents and/or is providing you with accommodation) is obliged to register you with the Federal Migration Service within seven working days. This is required so that the authorities can keep track of foreigners' movements within Russia, and by law you are obliged to register each time you change accommodation or move to another part of Russia. Check for more information about registration.

Who will register me if I book accommodation on this website?

If you book hotel or hostel accommodation on this website, either directly with us or by following a link to Booking.com, then your registration can be performed at reception on arrival, and you will simply need to hand your passports to the reception staff for a few minutes so that they can make copies. The same applies for most apartment bookings - when you go to the offices of the agency or management company to pick up the apartment keys, the staff will take copies of your passport and then be able to register you. Many hotels, hostels and apartment agencies charge a nominal fee for this service.

If you book an apartment with a private landlord on Booking.com, you may find that they are not able to register you or unaware how the system works. If this does happen, you should contact SAINT-PETERSBURG.COM and we will register you for an additional fee (please check our page registration page for more information).

What do I do if my visa is lost or stolen?

If you lose your visa and/or passport during your stay in Russia, don't panic. Provided you follow the correct procedures, you can easily be issued with an exit visa by the local authorities. You will need to contact the police to file an official report of the theft/loss, your consulate or embassy to obtain a new passport, and the person or organization who has issued your visa support documents. Click here to find out more about lost or stolen documents.

How quickly can I obtain a Russian visa?

This varies according to the Consulate or Embassy at which you are applying and the type of visa you are applying for. Most consular departments will offer a same-day or 24-hour express service for processing Tourist Visa applications, although this will incur an extra fee. If you have booked accommodation with us, we will issue your visa support documents within one working day of having received your request so it is possible, depending on your circumstances, to obtain a Russian visa in less than 48 hours. If you are making an urgent application for a Russian visa and have already booked accommodation with us, please contact us by phone to ensure that we process your support documents as quickly as possible.

If I'm visiting St. Petersburg on a cruise, do I need a Russian visa?

Cruise ship passengers have the right to visit St. Petersburg for up to 72 hours without a Russian visa, but there are limitations on what they can do. You have to be accompanied on land at all times by a licensed tour guide (with a specific state license for accompanying cruise passengers without visas) and you have to sleep on the ship.

If you would like to have greater freedom to explore the city under your own steam, it is worth getting Russian visas before you set out on your cruise. In order to do this, you can either book accommodation in St. Petersburg or buy visa support documents from a local agency. As shore tours with licensed guides are generally quite pricey, getting Russian visas is not necessarily the more expensive option.

If I'm visiting St. Petersburg by ferry, do I need a Russian visa?

Passengers traveling on St. Peter Line ferries from Helsinki and Tallinn can also stay in St. Petersburg for up to 72 hours without a Russian visa. This is counted as a cruise, provided that you buy a "city tour" from the ferry company (in reality, this is just a transfer by bus from the sea port to the city center). You will also need to book accommodation for your stay.

If I'm visiting St. Petersburg by train from Helsinki, do I need a Russian visa?

Yes, you do, unless you are from a country with an agreement with the Russian Federation for visa-free travel. Although it has been suggested that the 72-hour visa-free regime could be extended to passengers on the Allegro train, this hasn't happened and is unlikely to happen any time in the near future.

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