So there are plenty of companies out there that can organise a Russian Visa for you, however they do charge a fee that really shouldn’t have to pay unless you are super lazy and can’t be bothered filling out a few forms by yourself.
Just as a quick comparison, if you do it yourself you can pay as little as £73 compared to going through a visa specialist who can charge upwards of £128. Keep in mind that if if you go through a visa specialist you will still have to attend the Visa Application Centre to do your Biometrics, so essentially you are paying them £50 to fill in some online forms for you!
Applying for a Russian Visa requires you to complete a number of steps:
1. Book your accommodation
It seems strange that you have to book your accommodation before getting the visa, but this is one of the requirements. Just make sure you book somewhere with free cancellation (plenty available on www.booking.com). Also there is no law against changing your mind at a later date and booking somewhere else down the line but just make sure that with the following 2 steps you enter the exact same accomodation and dates.
Also, the majority of budget accommodation in Russia have shared bathrooms – so you will be paying significantly more for private ones.
Check out our blog on Tips for Saving Money on Hotels
2. Apply for a Tourist Voucher (aka Tourist Invitation)
Head to the iVisa and fill out the simple online form and pay the US$10.68 fee (there are a few sites that charge even up to US$30 so be warned!). Once you have paid you are usually emailed a PDF Tourist Voucher within 24 hours (we received ours in less than 15 minutes). Print your voucher out (which should look something like the above picture).
3. Fill in your Online Visa Application Form
Go to the Russian Consular Website where you will start filling in your online Russian Visa Application. Just a few things to note:
- Make sure you choose the country your are applying from (not your nationality) at the first dropdown box as it will determine which location you will need to go to to process the visa
- For the question that asks ‘do you have a permanent address?’ – you have to click ‘YES’ whether or not this is true as this is the only part on the form where they ask for your home address. I made the mistake of ticking ‘NO’ (as my address was temporary) and they made me redo the entire application
- Print your entire form and make sure you have appropriate sized passport photos and passport photocopies attached to the pages which require it
4. Go to the Russian Visa Application Centre
Go the the Visa Application Centre you have been assigned to within working hours. You must make sure to bring:
- Tourist Voucher
- Visa Application
- Cash/Card for payment
They will take your passport and return it to you once your visa has been processed, there are a few options you have regarding getting it back:
- Pick up from the Visa Application Centre – FREE
- Standard Delivery – Fees apply
- Express Delivery – Significant fees apply
- Visa Fee: £38.40 (or £45.60 for next day service)
- Service Fee: £38.40 (or £45.60 for next day service)
So whilst it is a bit of a hassle to get everything sorted, it’s definitely worthwhile going through the whole process yourself if you are on a budget
Til next time
Ann & Jason xo