As a foreigner, you need a visa to get into Russia. You can obtain a Russian entry visa at any Russian Embassy or Consulate. Proper authorization (invitation) from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) or a specially authorized travel agent is required for this.
There are two types of Russian Visas - Tourist and Business.
  • You should apply for a Business Visa if you visit Russia on official or private business or if you are just planning to come to Russia for longer than 30 days and you don't know your exact itinerary or you need to enter Russia frequently.
  • Business visas to Russia may be issued with up to two entries and for up to 90 days. There are also multiple-entry business visas, valid for 3, 6, 9 or 12 months with unlimited entries/exits. It may coast from $100 to $500, which depends on the time of validity, amount of entries and the processing time. It's cheaper to process visa through a Russian agency.
  • For a business visa you need 2 copies of a formal Invitation issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or its Regional Representative offices. The invitation should contain your full name, the date of birth, your passport number, period of stay in Russia and cities you are going to visit.
    The invitation must be signed by an authorized person and sealed.
  • Staff members of foreign diplomatic/consular and other official missions or news agencies as well as their guests can get visas only upon the authorization from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.
  • A tourist visa is good for you if you are coming for a short time (not longer than 15 days) and you know exactly where and how long you will be staying without diverting from your planned itinerary. It coasts about $100 or less to process a tourist visa.
  • For a tourist visa you need a copy of a voucher issued by an authorized travel agency. Two copies of a telex/fax message (invitation) from a Russian hotel or tour operator with appropriate reference and confirmation numbers and a copy of round trip air tickets are also required.
  • A visa lists entry/exit dates, your vital information, passport details, and has two photos stapled to it. You must keep your Russian visa during your stay in the country because this is an exit permit just like it's an entry permit.
Private and Transit visas which are seldom used.
  • If you are going to your friend or a relative, you can get a private visa. This type of visa allows you to stay in Russia for up to 90 days. For this your friend or relative will have to get an Original invitation ("Izveschenie") issued by a Local Visa Office (OVIR) and send it to you. In Russian Consulates worldwide no copies are accepted. Obtaining an OVIR invitation can be a very lengthy and troublesome procedure, it's better to apply for a tourist or business visa.
  • If you are going to travel to another country through the Russian territory, you must have a transit visa for which you need a copy of a confirmed ticket and a valid entry visa to the country of destination. Transit visa is valid for no longer than 3 days.
  • To the Consulate or a travel agency you must bring your national passport, which must be valid not less than three months prior to the intended date of departure from Russia. You should also bring a copy of the vital pages of your valid Passport. Photocopies are not accepted!
  • If you hold any other travel documents, like a Permit to Re-Enter the United States of America, Refugee Travel Document, etc., you'll have to present them in person and prove their legal status by documentation.
  • You will also need three recent passport-size pictures of the applicant, signed on the back.
  • You should give two application forms to the Embassy or travel agency. All the entries should be typed or printed in block letters. After you have filled in all the information required, you sign the application form. Applications on thermal fax paper are not accepted. You can send your application form to the American consulate through fax-on-demand service at (212) 693-1358 or as downloads in Adobe(R) PDF format.
These are the things you should know when you try to get a visa.
  • If you are going to stay in Russia for more than three months, you must have a verified copy of the Certificate of HIV Infection Test, issued by a medical institution. You should enclose it with the application and bring the original Certificate to Russia.
  • You don't have to do all this if you are applying for a multiple re-entry visa.
  • You have to submit documents for visa processing yourself or through an authorized travel agency, or by your responsible representative. Documents delivered by messenger services are not accepted.
  • In a Consulate you might have to pass an interview by a visa Officer.
  • If application is accepted, a numbered receipt indicating a pick up date will be issued. This receipt must be presented for visa pick-up.
  • After you have received the visa, you should check it. If you find there some mistakes made that are not the Consulate's fault (i.e. made by you) you'll have to pay for the changes. And the Consulate assumes no responsibility for any discrepancies in the visa that you didn't notice before the departure.
  • All consular fees are subject to change without notice.
  • You can extend the validity of your visa with a new invitation from the same hosting organization.
  • If you want to submit your paperwork by mail, you should enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope or pre-paid Air Way Bill for express mail. Delivery time is not included in processing time.
  • All Russian consulates are closed for all local and Russian national holidays.
  • They may consider visa applications in the Consulate as long as they feels necessary and, unfortunately, they can refuse to grant entry visa for any reason.
If you finally get your visa, please remember Here are the consular fees for visas:

Single-Entry visa: Double Entry visa: Multiple Re-Entry visa:
Processing time Fees Processing time Fees Processing time Fees
two weeks $70 two weeks $120 three business days $200
one week $80 one week $130 next business day $350
three business days $110 three business day $160 same business day $450
next business day $150 next business day $200
same business day $300 same business day $350

To know the address and contacts of the nearest Russian Council, go to