Russian visaBack to Forum
Anonymous8 Jun 2015
This raver is considering going to St. Petersburg for “White Nights” end of June, however, the RU visa process seems formidable:
i.e. list every country (including dates) that I have visited in the last 10 years??
Does anyone have any experience here on this process? I will outsource as much of the work as possible to a travel agency but still need to decide on how much effort I need to invest in the admin…8 Jun 2015
My experience of the Russian visa process was that it was less painful than expected – the agency in London (who handle all applications on behalf the embassy here) was actually quite efficient – but it’s mainly a money-making exercise these days.
There are various hoops to jump through – and notably the invitation seems to require one paying one of the recommended online agencies offering the service, they generate a fully compliant, stamped document, electonically, in minutes.
With reference to the country list, I do as I always do – I listed all visited in that time, together with date only of the most recent visit – and had to provide a supplementary sheet as I quickly hit the maximum number on their online form (writing them in alphabetical order, I only made it to Japan!). It was fairly clear that their interest in this aspect of the application was limited. [This question is not limited to the Russians – the one time I applied for a US work visa, the same question was asked – and the Americans had helpfully provided a form box which was the size of a matchbox for the answer….]8 Jun 2015
I applied for mine by going to VFS in London last week and haven’t heard back since. The process is a bit of a faff to be honest.
I didn’t realise the hotel I’m staying at needs to be in the “Institution / Organisation being visited” field so had to go back a second time. Prior to that, I’d also had to obtain a certain form from the hotel (stamped by them with their number) to confirm I’m going to stay there.
In terms of the 10 year travel history, the website only accepts a certain number of countries. I started from 2015 and working backwards got stuck!
I’ll find out tomorrow if my passport comes back in the post as promised!8 Jun 2015
Having investigated the Russian visa process whilst planning a Trans-Siberian/Trans-Mongolian trip, the conclusion was quite plain: don’t bother. There are plenty of other places more deserving of your visitor spending.
Should you go there, do not be at all surprised at coming across some seriously xenophobic, ultra-nationalistic and considerably anti-western sentiment. A long-standing friend who spent four years in Moscow heading up the Russian office of a major payments card company can barely bring himself to travel to Moscow these days. He finds that even the ostensibly liberal and educated elite has bought into the “Russia resurgent” B/S peddled by Putin and his kleptocrat pals to the extent that it is almost impossible to have any kind of sensible conversation with a local – including his erstwhile staff.8 Jun 2015
If you are based in London (I’m not) then the application is pretty straightforward assuming you start the fill in on line and then go to the VFS offices.
My last two visas were processed with no real problems.
On the first of these I listed the most recent trips but only those where stamps were in my passport. Rapidly running out of space I stopped at that point. The more recent visa I included a list of countries visited in the last 2 years but pointed out that I did not have all dates and that there were about another 60 places visited in the last 10 years.
The staff said don’t worry, found one or two points where my application needed changes and sent me to their computer to make these alterations. Although the cost is annoyingly high, it is nowhere near as prohibitive and unreasonable as the charges for a non-oligark russian wanting a UK visa!
The staff at the centre I found very helpful indeed.
Without friends to visit in London and personal reasons for a Russian trip I would not have bothered. The London trip to submit and another to collect (I don’t trust the Post with my passport) adds very substantial time & cost – and as AnthonyD says there are lots of other places worth seeing!8 Jun 2015
I applied in person at the Russian Consulate in Luxembourg. The visa took 10 days and cost 35 euros. I could have received it in 10 minutes if I had paid double. All in all, the procedure was fairly straightforward, and the consular staff were friendly and helpful. But I guess that is often true at smaller/less busy embassies or consulates.8 Jun 2015
Years ago I travelled on the Trans-Siberian through Russia, Mongolia and China. I found it to be the best travel experience I’ve ever had (still). It can be really hard work to travel in Russia, but I found Moscow and Russia in general a fascinating place to visit because it’s just so unique. I was least keen on St Petersburg, considering it was modelled on a ‘European’ city it somehow felt less Russian but it’s still beautiful and a visit to the Winter Palace is a must. Try and find out when the tours are running in English as there’s not much in the way of translation.
Our visa was arranged through the travel company who we’d booked the whole lot through and between the Russian and Mongolian visas it took two months but it was pretty painless really. Definitely get someone else to do it for you, it’s a problem worth throwing money at.8 Jun 2015
MichaelIJ & MrDarwin: re-reading my post I didn’t wish to run down Russia as a tourist destination – there are loads of interesting places to visit in the ex-USSR…definitely worth my visas…maybe even more interesting now given the slush of propaganda disinformation around.8 Jun 2015
It amuses me that the 2 places in the world I would least like to visit if it were not for business, Russia and India have the most onerous and stupid visa requirements. And to have to pay to go there!! Having been to both on many occasions, I honestly would much rather pay to leave… As others have mentioned save time and money and go elsewhere !!!!9 Jun 2015
RaveAroundTheWorld, I currently live on and off in St. Petersburg for work and know the city very well. Do not listen to all the nay sayers here, St. Pete is a wonderful place to visit, far superior to Moscow. This is the best time of the year with the White Nights as the sun sets around 11PM and rises at 3AM, although it never really gets very dark. As a Unesco World Heritage City, St. Pete is like living in a Museum as the buildings in the City center are land mark protected. It is a wonderful city to walk. As far as service goes, yes, Russians might not be the most hospitable at times, but in recent months it seems they are more and more trying to please foreigners as they are not happy with how they are being portrayed on the western media right now. With the weakness of the Ruble, it is also a great bargain to visit at this time.
As for your Russian Visa, just use the agency the Russian Embassy advises. I have been able to get visa invitations for friends in a day, and then the process takes them one week to obtain the visa. Yes it costs money, but the same is exactly true for any Russian national wanting to obtain a visa to enter the EU. Many tell me the horror stories of the process they have to go through, with interviews, details of all their financial funding, etc. Its a two way diplomatic street, so don’t chastise the Russians for doing exactly the same as the UK does to Russians.
If you want any advice on what to do here in St. Pete, don’t hesitate to let me know.9 Jun 2015
Hi LP, absolutely, yes. During summer season any passengers arriving by sea, be it cruise ships or ferries, are able to obtain a 72hour entry visa at the port of entry. Its one of the reasons so many cruise ships over night in port here for one or two nights as part of a cruise itinerary as well. Great point to be shared.
As an aside, the Russian Duma was discussing to extend this visa provision to all entry points including the ten main international destinations’ airports, year round, but only to those arriving on Russian Flagged aircraft or vessels. This has not been passed as of yet, and would no doubt cause an uproar from foreign airlines and operators.9 Jun 2015
I tried to apply late last year then gave up having paid Hilton St. P for their form. I did have a list of 10 years travel, on a separate page but gave up when I found the requirements if you are self employed. They expect 3 years audited accounts and copies of bank statements. The lady at the form filling agency suggested that I lie and say that I have retired, as that is easier. They are obviously worried that I am trying to seek asylum in Russia rather than living in the Algarve.
Getting a China visa is a piece of cake, why can’t Russia learn?
We may visit sometime but, as LP suggests, we have found that visiting as part of a cruise is the easier way. If Russia doesn’t need my euros in hotels, planes and restaurants then we shall give them to Royal Caribbean.9 Jun 2015
FaroFlyer, I find your story hard to believe having lived on and off in the RF a number of times. To start with, there is no Hilton in St. Pete, although two Hilton properties are being built, they will only open late next year or in 2017. If you were trying to obtain a business visa, you would need an invitation from the company or companies you planed to visit, and the cities to which you wanted to travel. There is no requirement for your ‘audited accounts,’ so not sure where you heard this. A tourist visa is very easy to obtain, again all it requires is an invitation from one of the tourist agencies, and then the process is easy.
All the scare mongering about the process is simply bogus.9 Jun 2015