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Frequently Asked Questions

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In this section of our site you will find questions that we are frequently asked and some general answers to them.

We try to ensure that information contained in this section is accurate and up to date, however if you don't find what you are looking for here or have specific questions, please either check our forum for answers, post you own question to the forum or contact us, and we will be happy to help.

ABOUT VISAS

APPLYING FOR A VISA

IN RUSSIA

GENERAL

What is a Russian visa?

A visa to the Russian Federation is a document stuck into your passport, permitting stay in Russia for a specific period of time and for a specific purpose such as tourism or business. A visa lists the period during which you may stay in Russia, the number of times you may enter and leave, your passport details and some information about the inviting party. Please note, that your Russian visa is an exit permit just like it's an entry permit. If you lose it or stay over your designated departure date, leaving Russia could be more troublesome than entering it.

Please note: Do not try to enter Russia just using Visa Support Documents, you will be deported immediately at your own cost! The visa is a full page document pasted into your passport and you can see what one looks like by clicking here.

Do I need a visa?

Most foreign nationals, including those from the UK, are required to have entry visas to travel to the Russian Federation. Citizens of former CIS Republics, except Georgia and Turkmenistan, may enter Russia with their national passports.

If you are in transit through Russia and do not leave the airport, then you will not need a visa. However, if you are in transit and need to leave the airport, for example to stay overnight in a hotel or transfer to a different airport, then you will need a visa. If your stay in Russia during your transit is less than 72 hours we may obtain a transit visa on your behalf, please contact us for details.

How long does it take to get a Russian visa and how much does it cost

It takes between 2 working days and 6 weeks to get your visa depending upon the type that you need. The cost also varies accordingly to type and how quickly you need it from less than £120 for a tourist visa to approx £600 for an express service on a multiple entry one year business visa.

In our service tables we list processing days as a guide to how long it will take to get your visa from the Russian Consulate for the type and service you require. Processing days are business days and exclude weekends, UK public holidays, official Russian public holidays and postal time.

How do I read a Russian Visa?

It is very important that you confirm your visa is suitable for your journey before you use it. As some of the information on your Russian visa will be in Russian we have produced a short guide on deciphering what it says.

What is the difference between a tourist visa and a business visa?

Tourist visas are valid for up to one month and allow either a single or double entry and exit, while business visas are valid from between 1 to 12 months and may allow multiple entries and exits.

Do I have to be travelling to Russia on Business to get a Business visa?

No, a Business visa may be issued for any reason. Basically, a business visa often allows more flexibility.

Can I travel on a private trip with a tourist visa?

Yes, you can. The type of visa you choose depends on the purpose and the length of your trip. For a tourist visa to Russia you must have confirmed accommodations or transit information for every night of your stay in the country. We will provide you with visa support invitation to satisfy this requirement and confirming your accommodations/itinerary. No hotel reservations or bookings are needed on your part. Remember, you must register your visa when you arrive in Russia. If you have a Russian spouse who is living in the UK, and you will be travelling in together, they can apply for a private visa for you without needing a visa support invitation. Please contact us for more information.

Can I have more than one Russian visa in my passport at once?

No, you can only have one active visa for a specific country in your passport at any one time.

If you have an active visa (that is a visa that is not expired, used or cancelled) for Russia in your passport (or in a second passport) at the time we apply at the consulate for a new one, then the current active visa will be cancelled when the new visa is issued; this will mean submitting both passports to the Consulate in cases where the existing visa is in a different passport from the new one being applied for.

You should take this into consideration when ordering a new or replacement visa, if you have any questions then please feel free to contact us and we will be happy to help.

Can I process an invitation for a private visa through your company?

Sorry, no you can't, as we provide only tourist and business visas and tourist support documents. Friends or relatives who will host you during your Russian visit will need to obtain a visa invitation for you from the Passport and Visa Department of the local Police Precinct. This original official invitation will need to be mailed to you as Russian Consulates worldwide accept only original private visa invitations. Obtaining this type of invitation can be a very lengthy and troublesome procedure, and we suggest applying for either Tourist visa or Business visa instead. However, if you have received your original invitation documents from Russia and want us to help you prepare, lodge, collect and check your visa then please contact us and we will be happy to help.

How can I check on the progress of my visa or support application?

To check on the progress of your application with us, please click here and then enter in your application reference number. If you have lost this, then please contact us.

You will also receive automatic emails and notifications from our system as the status of your visa application changes.

Should I provide you with the exact travel dates in my application for a tourist invitation or can I give you rough dates?

A Russian Tourist visa is issued for the exact dates you request and as shown on the invitation up to a maximum of 30 days inclusive of day of entry and exit. Please note you may not enter Russia before the visa starts and you must leave Russia before the visa expires and as such we would suggest that you add a few days before and after your expected dates of travel to allow for changes in your plans and you can then enter and leave Russia within that period.

How can I change some details in my application?

In case you have provided us wrong details or forgotten about something, please contact our UK office immediately and we will see what we can do. Depending upon which stage we are at with your application, we may be able to make the alteration without charge, make it with an additional charge or not be change it at all.

I am living in the UK, but I still have Russian citizenship. Do I need a visa?

If you are a Russian citizen and have a valid Russian passport, you have to enter Russia with it and there is no visa required.

If your Russian passport has expired you must renew your Russian passport and travel on this.

The consulate will only process a visa for a person born in Russia if they can prove that they have never had, or have renounced, their Russian citizenship. Remember, even if your Russian passport has expired, or you obtain a second foreign passport, this does not mean that you are no longer a Russian citizen.

Can you help to transfer a Russian visa between passports?

Yes we can manage the transfer of an active visa from an expired or cancelled passport to a new passport.

You will need to provide us with:

  • The passport containing the active Russian visa
  • The passport you wish to transfer the visa into
  • One passport sized photograph
  • If you did not process the original visa through Real Russia then you will also need to provide a copy of the signed consulate visa application form that you submitted when applying for your current visa.

The processing time including the day of receipt of all required documents is a minimum of two (2) working days and costs £56.00 per visa inclusive of all fees and taxes though excludes any return postal costs and return delivery time if required.

Please note, that for visas not issued by the Russian consulate in the United Kingdom, then the visa may be transfered with modifications to the validity period, number of entries or some restrictions on its use.

How do I read my visa?

Please find below links to a series of short guides on reading your visa:

Applications for children under 18 years of age

There is no need to apply for a child’s visa as long as they are included in one of their parent’s passport. In this case, they will only have to pay £10.00 for visa support document.

If a child has a separate passport, then they will need to obtain a separate visa as well.

Please be aware that children applying for Russian visa may need to provide some additional documents with their applications depending on who they are submitting their applications with or/and who they will be travelling to Russia with.

  1. No additional documents are required when a child is applying together with parent(s) of the same surname.
  2. When a child is applying together with parent(s) of a different surname, a copy of child’s birth certificate needs to be presented. In the event where, for example, a child is travelling with their mother whose surname in her current passport is her actual married name and the child bears a surname of her ex-partner, then a copy of mother’s marriage and divorce certificate has to be provided. Generally speaking, a connection between child’s and parent’s surname, if different, has to be always proved.
  3. When a child is travelling to Russia either alone or with somebody else who is not their parent; in this case the additional documents include a copy of one of their parent’s passport and a signed copy of a parental consent letter. Please note that if the child travels with their parent or somebody else but is applying for their visa separately, then a copy of parent’s/that person’s passport along with a copy of their valid Russian visa has to be supplied too.

Birth, marriage or divorce certificate and a parental consent letter do not need to be notarised, apostilled or witnessed by a solicitor and you should not send the originals unless you are specifically asked to do so.

If the child cannot sign the application form themselves, then the parent should sign it on their behalf and note this under the signature, e.g. Mother/Father.

If you wish to obtain a three, six or twelve month visa for a child to accompany an adult travelling on a business visa, then you need to be aware of the following:

  1. To allow us to raise the "accompanying family member" visa support documents, at least one parent must be travelling with the child and have their business visa support issued at the same time as their child. A copy of the child's birth certificate is also required.
  2. The “accompanying family member” visa support documents provider has to be the same as that of the related parent's visa; so if the parent(s) arranged their own visa support (i.e. not through Real Russia), they will need to do the same for their child.
  3. When submitting a child’s application once the parent’s visa has already been issued, then a copy of their parent’s passport along with a copy of their valid Russian visa has to be supplied too.
  4. A child's accompanying family member visa dates must be the same as or within the parent's.

Finally, all of the above explicitly applies to the UK only. Consulates’ rules in other countries may be different. Please check before you apply.

A new law simplifying the private visa application process for children was introduced in March 2010.

Governed by this rule and under the following conditions, the children can apply for a Russian visa without a visa support document:

  1. A child is under 18 years of age
  2. The parent they will be travelling to Russia with is a Russian passport holder

The parent holding a Russian passport has to submit their child’s application in person at the Russian Visa Application Centre.

The documents to be supplied are as follows:

  1. Child’s passport
  2. Child’s passport-sized picture. Generally speaking, the Consulate’s requirement is to provide a photograph which is not older than 6 months. However, as children change very fast, their picture has to be taken within a few weeks of the application and cannot be same as in the passport.
  3. Child’s visa application form signed either by child or their parent
  4. Parent’s original Russian passport
  5. Parent’s original UK visa (either stamped in the Russian passport or a separate residence permit) or original UK passport
  6. Child’s original birth certificate
  7. Parent’s original marriage/divorce certificate if the child’s and parent’s surname differs
  8. Any extra paperwork for non-UK nationals where applicable (please check our website for more details)

Please contact us for more information.

What documents should I bring to the Russian Consulate/Russian Visa Application Centre in order to apply for my visa and is it possible to send these documents by post?

If you are applying for your visa yourself, you should bring your support documents, your passport which must be valid for 6 months after your proposed departure from Russia and have two blank pages, a single passport photograph, the consular fee (postal order or cash only), proof of medical insurance and a completed application form. It is always a good idea to get in touch with the Russian Consulate in order to check the latest update on the required documents.

If you have no opportunity to go to the Russian Consulate yourself, you can generally send your documents by mail. We would recommend that you use Royal Mail Special Delivery.

I am a foreign national currently staying in the UK. Can you process my visa application?

In many cases, yes we can.

If you have a UK residency permit, a UK residency visa (such as ILR or a spouce visa) or a long term UK visa (such as work or student) then generally we can process your application.

If you wish to obtain a visa for a EU passport, a passport that does not does not require entry clearance into the UK or have a short term UK visa then generally we can process your application if you can show you have been a resident in the UK for 90 days or more.

Citizens of Latin America, Africa and Asian countries should get their visas in the Russian Consulate of their native countries.

All passport holders of African countries (except South African) and Asian and South American countries, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Algiers, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Cameroon, China, Vietnam, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and countries that border these should contact us before making an application.

I am a not in the UK at the moment. Can you process my visa application?

Even if you are not a British passport holder or not currently in the UK in most cases we can process your Russian, Mongolian, Kazakh, Belarus, Vietnam and Chinese visa application for you. Please note that the Chinese and Russian consulates will not process visas for non-EU nationals or nationals who require entry clearance into the UK if no entry clearance or visa is in the passport. For Russian visa applications, all non-UK passport holders would have to prove UK residency.

If you are not in the UK when applying for your visas you will need to send your applications to us by courier or secure post and we would return them the same way.

If you wish us to return your passport and visas by courier, select "Other courier — price on application" as the return delivery option when ordering your visa, complete the credit card authorisation form, enclose this with your applications and we will charge your card directly for the return courier to your requested address. If you are in mainland Europe then you may choose to use Royal Mail international signed for delivery at the time of ordering your visa online by selecting "European mainland delivery" as the return delivery option.

For the return courier or European mainland delivery, please ensure that you give us the full return address including a post code and local contact telephone number — you may use the comments box on the online form for this purpose.

In all cases passport holders of African countries (except South African) and Asian and South American countries, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Algiers, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Cameroon, China, Vietnam, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and countries that border these should contact us before making an application.

Can you get me a work permit or student visa?

No, Real Russia can not provide work permits for foreign nationals who wish to work in Russia, these can only be obtained from the company that you are going to work for in Russia. If you are going to work in Sakhalin then please see the following information.

We also can not issue visa invitations with the purpose of "education" or "study", again this is only legal if issued by the school, college or university that you will be attending.

If required we can help with the processing at the consulate of these visas, please contact us for details.

What proof of residency can I provide for a Russian visa?

The Russian consulate require that some nationals demonstrate that they have been resident in the UK for a minimum period of time (usually 90 or 180 days) before they will accept applications for visas from them.

This requirement is usually in response to those governments that demand Russian nationals applying for visas in their home country to do the same and as such is a "Reciprocal Measure".

Please note! The proof of residency or address does not apply to applicants for Russian business visas where the visa support is provided as a "telex".

If you have been asked to provide proof of residency / address in the UK you should provide one the following documents listed below.

Only supply copies of these documents unless we specifically ask for the original.

  1. Copy of UK passport

    If you are a dual national, you may provide a copy of your UK passport. This does not need to be notorised or otherwise authorised.

  2. UK visa or UK entry stamp

    If you have a valid UK visa in your passport or a UK entry stamp, please mark the relevant page with a small sticker/tab.

    If your UK visa or entry stamp is in another passport, please provide a copy its photo page along with a copy of the visa or stamp with your application documents.

    If you have a UK entry stamp, it will need to show that you entered the UK at least 90 days prior to applying for the Russian visa. Please note that an entry stamp is not acceptable proof of residency for all nationalities and you will be advised of this when you apply; alternatively you may check the requirements on the visa page.

  3. Letter from employer, school or university

    Letter from your employer, school or university on headed paper, dated no more than two weeks ago, that confirms your name and as a minimum the month and year of your employment or enrolment.

  4. Utility bills

    Copies of utility bills such as council tax, gas, electricity or water covering the previous 90 day period and detailing both your name and UK address. The latest bill should be dated no later than two weeks prior to application for the visa.

    The easiest option may be a council tax bill as it is usually sent at the end of March and covers the whole year in advance.

  5. Bank statements

    The bank statements should cover the previous 90 day period, should detail your name and UK address and be no older than two weeks at the time of application for the visa at the consulate.

    They may be copies of official paper statements (i.e. those sent by post), printouts of online statements or bank printouts. For online statements or bank printouts it is desirable, though not mandatory, that you get them stamped and signed by the bank.

Please note that credit card bills, mobile phone bills and tenancy agreements are not acceptable. If using bank statements then the most recent balance must provide for a minimum £100 a day while in Russia.

Do I need to register my visa?

All foreign citizens arriving in the Russian Federation must register their visas within seven working days of their arrival (excluding weekends and official public holidays). An unregistered visa can cause problems and delays with even the most common tasks that require a passport as identification and even cause you to be denied exit from Russia.

Visa registration procedures and requirements can differ in each city and region of Russia. Please see our short guide to registering your visa for more information.

I have been asked to provide bank statements, why?

Applicants answering “self-employed” or “unemployed” to the question regarding their current employment status on a Russian visa application will need to provide copies of their bank statements for the last full three months to demonstrate that they can fund their trip.

Where the applicant’s home address matches their work address they will also be asked to provide bank statements as well unless the applicant can provide a letter from their company stating that they are a company employee, please note that the applicant cannot sign this letter themselves.

Housewives (husbands), retired people and students are not required to submit the bank statements in any event.

What format do bank statements need to be for Russian visa applications?

If you have been asked to provide bank statements for a Russian visa application, then they must meet the following requirements:

  1. Cover the last 90 days and be no more than two weeks old at the time of application.
  2. Preferably are the official bank statements sent by post.
  3. Internet or bank-printouts are acceptable as long as they “look official” and include the applicants name and the account details. Printouts no longer need to be signed and stamped by the bank however it is preferable if they are.
  4. Mention the applicant’s name (or the company’s name as per details on the application form).
  5. The most recent balance must provide for a minimum £100 a day while in Russia.
  6. May be from a bank account held anywhere in the world, not necessarily a UK one.
  7. May be a current, deposit or savings account statement.
  8. Credit card statements are not acceptable.
  9. Copies are acceptable; please do not send the originals unless specifically asked to do so.

If the applicant doesn’t have three months of official statements covering the last 90 days then it is possible to provide a mixture of official statements and internet/bank printouts, for example; official statements for two months and an additional online statement showing the same account details for one month.

If the balance on the most recent statement does not cover the minimum £100 a day requirement then the applicant should also supply one of the following:

  1. A letter from their company stating that the company they work for/ host organisation in Russia will cover all their expenses.
  2. A mixture of statements from two sources, for example; three months bank statement from a current account and also a copy of the most recent savings account statement proving the additional funds.
  3. A letter from themselves confirming the actual length of their planned trip and showing enough money to cover this period (for example, this may be a private visa valid where the official invitation is for 90 days whilst the client is expecting to stay in Russia for a week only). However applicants should be aware that the consulate may decide to grant a visa only for the period requested.
  4. A letter signed by their friend or relative confirming that they will financially support the applicant if the need arises. A copy of the friend’s or relative’s photo page from their passport should be provided along with copies of their last full three months bank statements as detailed above.

Will my profession affect my Chinese visa application?

When applying for your Chinese visa the application form will require: your employment status, profession, employer details and employment sector. Depending on your job sector and/or title, this may slightly alter the application process.

Currently this may affect people employed in the following areas:

  1. Member of national parliament
  2. Government official
  3. Media (for example: publishing and photography, TV or radio, writer, journalist, ETC.)
  4. Religious worker
  5. Active duty military personnel

For each of the professions mentioned above please note that you cannot apply earlier than a month before your planned date of entry to China. Extra attention will be paid to your application, and so you will have to supply additional documentation. Hotels and inbound, outbound transportation to China will need to be pre-booked, with proof of booking supplied; this is to clearly point out to the consulate there are no gaps in your itinerary.

Therefore, along with your full visa application pack, we advise that you submit the following:

  • Inbound and outbound travel tickets
  • Proof of a hotel booking for the duration of your stay in China

Recommended (but not essential):

  • A letter from your employer, confirming that you are travelling purely as a tourist, not for business reasons, and do not intend to work.
  • Internal travel confirmations (if applicable).

If you supply all additional information this may reduce the chance of the consulate requesting further details. Please keep in mind the approval of your visa lies entirely with the discretion of the Chinese consulate, as they handle all applications individually.

It is likely that, if approved, your visa length will only be for the duration of your stay, matching your inbound and outbound ticket dates, and not the standard tourist visa; although, this may be dependent on your individual trip details.

If you are unsure and would like more clarity, or specific information tailored to your personal circumstance, we recommend that you contact our visa team who are happy to help.

What is the migration card for?

On the 10th February 2003 the requirements for Migration cards came into force for the purposes of migration control into the territory of the Russian Federation. Every foreign citizen (with the exception of the members of the diplomatic missions and international organisations) is required to fill in a migration card when visiting Russia. You can view a sample card here.

You will be given a migration card by your carrier before you enter Russia, they are also available at the ports of entry. You should complete both parts (entry and exit) and hand this over to the passport control officer on entry.

Please keep it safe and hand it back again to the passport control officer at departure. If you lose your migratory card you should report this to the regional bodies of domestic affairs domiciliary within three days.

Please note that your future entry into the Russia Federation may be restricted if you do not submit your migration card during your visit.

Can I extend my tourist visa while in Russia and if so, for how long?

Generally the Russian visas can not be extended except in cases such as:

  • Missing your flight
  • Accident
  • Serious illness
  • Seat unavailability in case of an open-date ticket

In all the cases mentioned above our Moscow office can extend your visa for up to 2 weeks and you will need to provide the appropriate documents to prove your case. The cost of the exit visa varies according to circumstances to between £100 to £250. If you believe that you may need to stay for more than 30 days, you should consider a business visa.

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

In that unfortunate case, you need a new exit visa.

First of all, you must contact a local police precinct and make a request for an official document confirming that your visa was lost. To make the processing easier we recommend you to state that your documents were lost, not stolen.

Then, you need to get a new passport from the British Embassy in Moscow.

With the documents mentioned above, one matt finished photo and your return ticket (with the fixed returned date) you should go to our Moscow office. We will process a new exit visa for you. Please note that the processing takes no less than 5 business days.

Can I extend my one-year multiple entries Russian visa without leaving Russia?

No, you can not extend a multiple entry visa, you need to leave Russia and apply for a new visa.

How much money can I take in and out of Russia?

You may "import" into the Russian Federation up to $10,000 (or equivalent) and "export" up to $3,000 without declaring it at the customs. If you export from the country a sum of money over $3,000 and up to $10,000 it must be declared on departure.

If you are exporting from the country a sum of over $10,000 you must provide documentary proof that you either imported it into the country or have legally obtained it whilst in the country.

If you complete a declaration form to state that you are bringing in more than $3,000 you must ensure that it is stamped by a Customs official at your port of entry or it will not be valid. Declaration forms are freely available at the ports of entry.

If you cash travellers cheques, or obtain money from a bank, make sure you keep all documents as proof. Please note, that travellers cheques may be difficult to cash and be charged at a premium, outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg. Sterling may also be difficult to change so we recommend you take either US dollars or Euros.

NOTE! If you fail to complete a declaration form on arrival or to get it validated by Customs officials your foreign currency and non-declared items may be confiscated when you leave Russia and you may be fined.

How can I contact customer services

Our customer services page can be found by clicking here, alternatively you may email our customer services team.

Do I need Travel Insurance?

A Reciprocal Health Care Agreement is in operation between the UK and the Russian Federation that entitles UK citizens to free emergency treatment in a Russian hospital. However, we strongly recommend that travellers take out full insurance cover for medical treatment and accidents as Private medical treatment can be expensive and public health care is often not of European standards.

You can order travel insurance for as little as £7 a trip that will cover you travelling in Russia and throughout the region.

The following nationals are required to provide proof of travel insurance with their Russian visa applications:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Israel
  • Luxembourg
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • The Netherlands

When providing proof of travel insurance the document should be either in English or Russian and contain:

  1. Name(s) of the person(s) covered.
  2. Period of coverage (has to include the travel dates).
  3. Area of coverage (can mention Russia or generally Europe or worldwide).

The Russian Consulate in London accepts the proof of policy in the following formats:

  1. Certificate from the insurance company.
  2. An emailed confirmation of the purchased insurance as long as it looks official (it is recommended to print the email together with sender’s and recipient’s email addresses).
  3. Letter from the bank which needs to be stamped and signed by the bank office.
  4. Company support letter stating, among other information, that for their forthcoming trip(s) to Russia, the applicant will be covered by the company insurance. There is no need to mention the insurance details in this case (period and area of coverage). Please note that this option usually refers to business applications, however if the company covers their employees also for their personal trips, these applicants can provide a letter confirming the same.

A copy of the proof of insurance is acceptable therefore please do not send the originals unless specifically requested and please don't send the insurance policy booklet.

What are the Official Russian Public Holidays?

Russian Official Public holidays include:

  • 1st and 2nd January — New Year's Holiday
  • 7th January — Russian Orthodox Christmas
  • 23rd February — Army Day
  • 8th March — Women's Day
  • 1st and 2nd May — Labour Day
  • 9th May — Victory Day (VE Day)
  • 12th June — Declaration of Sovereignty Day (founding of Russian Federation)
  • 4th November — Russian Unity Day
  • 12th December — Constitution Day

Please note that most, if not all official offices, including the consulates in the UK will be closed on these days — and often, there is a "go slow" just before and just after.

Do I need to carry my passport with me at all times?

Yes, visitors should carry their passports with a registered visa and migration card at all times as random document checks are carried out by local police (they often target tourists). Failure to provide proper documentation can lead to detention and fines. Saying that you have your passport at the hotel does not work, believe me I have personal experience of this!

You may want to consider making a photocopy of your passport page, Russian visa page and registration stamp and keeping this safe in the event of losing your originals.

If I am refused a visa or change my mind can I get my money back?

We start processing your application immediately upon receipt of your order, and, as such we can only refund the consulate tariff and postage cost elements if you cancel your order before we submit your application to the Russian Consulate.

In the event that we have already submitted your application to the Russian Consulate when you cancel your order, or in the unlikely event that your visa application is refused, we are unfortunately unable to provide a refund.

How can I pay for visas and services?

Click here for information on how to pay for your travel and visa services.