Last Updated on November 5, 2023 by Irena Domingo
Applying for a visa to travel to Russia from Australia, US or UK, whether for work, business, study or tourism, is not as complicated a process as it may seems. In this article, I’ll explain how to gather all of the documents you’ll need to apply for a visa from your computer in a way that is quick (less than 1 hour) and cost-effective. Despite the war in Ukraine, consulates issue visas to travel to Russia.
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- 1. INTRO QUESTIONS
- 1.1. What is a visa and who should request one?
- 1.2. What types of Russian visas are there?
- 1.3. Where is the visa processed?
- 1.4. How much does it cost to get a visa?
- 1.5. When should I start applying to get a visa?
- 2. STEPS TO APPLY FOR A RUSSIAN VISA
- Step 1. Have a valid passport
- Step 2. Set your itinerary: Cities and Hotels
- Step 3. Get a letter of invitation or visa support
- Step 4. Fill out the Visa Application Form
- Step 5. Print the form, sign it, and glue the required photo
- Step 6. Take all of your documents to the Russian Consulate or to the Russian Visa Center
- Step 7. Collect and check your passport
- Step 8. Travel insurance
- IN SUMMARY
- 3. ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR COVID-19 AND WAR IN UKRAINE
- 4. SUBSEQUENT FORMAL PROCEEDINGS AFTER OBTAINING THE VISA
I’ve had to apply for tourist visas to Russia for family and friends on several different occasions. The process for obtaining a visa to Russia is an extremely bureaucratic one and thanks to this, many companies have taken advantage of the opportunity to do business related to it.
Hundreds of internet articles explain the process for obtaining a Russian visa, but I haven’t found any that clearly explain each step of the process in detail or explain how to complete the process yourself without relying on outside help or intermediaries.
It’s for this reason that I’d like to explain in detail how an Australian citizen can obtain a visa to travel to Russia in an easy and inexpensive way without having to contact intermediary businesses who only add to the overall price of the visa. If you also want to get the visa to China, you can read this detailed guide.
- If you will be traveling to Russia on a trip organized by a travel agency, the agency will likely take care of the entire visa process and simply ask you for the necessary documents. If this is the case, the price will be significantly more than if you file for the visa yourself.
- This article gives a step-by-step explanation of how to obtain a visa on your own from Australia, but the process in New Zealand is very similar.
- For citizens of United States, Canada and United Kingdom, the detailed process is explained in these articles:
1. INTRO QUESTIONS
Before going into detail about the Russian visa application process, it’s important to answer a few questions in order to better understand the procedures.
1.1. What is a visa and who should request one?
A visa is an authorization for a citizen of a foreign country to enter, stay in, or pass through the territory of the Russian Federation. It is a document that adheres to one of the pages of your passport. Here is a real example:
Below you can see what the different sections of a Russian tourist visa mean:
If you are from Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Europe, UK, Japan, China or India, you will need to obtain a visa in order to travel to Russia.
However, people from about 40 countries that have bilateral agreements with Russia are exempt from needing to obtain a visa (see map). For example:
- Those with passports from ex-USSR states like Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Ukraine, etc. are allowed to enter Russian territory using ordinary passports from their respective countries.
- Most South American and Central American countries are exempt from needing to obtain a Russian visa.
- In addition, citizens of 55 countries can apply for an electronic visa from August 2023. Australians are not included in the list of countries that can apply for evisa.
Source: Visa policy of Russia – Wikipedia.
Also, note that tourists from all over the world on board large cruise ships have the right to stay in the Russian Federation without a visa for up to 72 hours provided living on board of a ferry or within a territory defined by the group tour program. They have the right to leave the ship and come back on board of the ship only as part of an organized tourist group and within the defined program.
- All the information about Russian visa exemptions in this article: Is it possible to travel to Russia without a visa?
1.2. What types of Russian visas are there?
Depending on the purpose of the entry, the Russian Federation issues 7 types of visas:
- TOURIST. This is the most common visa and as the name indicates, it is issued for stays that are for tourism purposes. The maximum period of stay in the Russian Federation with a single or double entry tourist visa is up to 90 days. Multiple entry tourist visa can be issued for a period of 6 month. The maximum period of stay in the Russian Federation with a multiple entry tourist visa is 90 days. You will need a letter of invitation from a Russian Licensed Tour Operator. It can be obtained in 5 minutes (below I explain how).
- PRIVATE VISA. These are issued to guests of Russian Nationals who reside within the territory of the Russian Federation. If you are staying in a private apartment with a Russian friend or family member, you can process a private visa, although the process is slower and more complicated:
- If your stay is for a maximum of 90 days, it is easier to process a tourist visa. Simply include random hotels in the invitation letter and once obtained the visa you can stay where you want.
- BUSINESS. This type is for trips to Russia that are professional in nature and have a commercial purpose or are used to do business. The period of validity of the business visa can be 30, 90, 180 or 365 days (even more in certain cases).
- It is a kind of visa that is also usually requested by people who do not have business in Russia but want to visit the country for a period of more than 90 days (maximum allowed by the tourist visa). It must be kept in mind that in essence the business visa is not addressed to these travelers, but the Russian authorities have always been permissive with this practice (maybe one day it will change).
- STUDENT. This is issued to those who are studying in the Russian Federation.
- WORK. Visa that permits a person to work in Russia.
- HUMANITARIAN. Issued for stays with for the purpose of cultural exchange, sporting events, scientific/technological, socio-political, religious or humanitarian missions.
- TRANSIT. Used to pass through the Russian Federation in order to reach another country.
- This visa is not necessary for foreigners who have a layover in an airport given that they don’t leave the international area or for those who fly over the territory without a layover. More info about transit visa in this article.
Latest Russian visa statistics:
- 53,2% of visas issued in 2020 were for tourism, 26.1% for business, 7.2% for humanitarian reasons, 5.6% for private visas, 4.2% for work and 1.4% for studies.
- Germany, China, France, Finland, Italy, the United States and Great Britain accounted for 53% of visas issued by Russia.
- Behind these countries stand out by number of visas issued: Estonia, Latvia, Spain, Japan, Lithuania, Poland, Switzerland, India, Netherlands, Turkey, Austria, Czech Republic, Turkmenistan, Georgia, Belgium, Vietnam, Sweden and Iran.
In general, all types of visa are processed in a similar way. The only difference worth mentioning is the obtaining of the so-called letter of invitation (or visa support) that, in the case of a tourist visa, is issued by a Russian tour operator or, in the case of a business visa, must be issued by a Russian company that has invited you to visit and in the case of a student visa, must be issued by the Russian educational institution where the person will be attending.
1.3. Where is the visa processed?
As an individual, you can have your visa processed at any consulate of the Russian Embassy in Australia (which can be found in Canberra and Sydney) as well as at the Russian Visa Center in Australia, an independent business that is subcontracted by the Russian Embassy in Australia located in Sydney.
Let’s talk about the advantages and inconveniences of processing a visa at each of these sites.
Option 1: Consulates of the Russian Federation in the Australia
In Australia, you can visit a consulate of the Russian Federation:
- The main advantage of applying for your visa in one of these consulate offices is that it is cheaper. The normal processing of a visa costs $120 ($240 for expedited processing). You do not have to pay the $150 administrative cost that is applied at the Russian Visa Center.
- Customer service is not a strong suit of the consulates
- The application must be done through an interview process (it cannot be done through the mail or courier service).
- If you are missing a single document or something is done poorly, you will have to return on another day as the consulates do not provide additional services like completion or correction of forms, photocopying, or photo and mailing services.
Option 2: Russian Visa Center in Sydney
The Russian Visa Center Application acts as an intermediary between the applicant and the consular section by receiving documents, verifying they are correct and complete, and sending them to the consular section to have them processed. However, the final decision to approve or deny a visa application still comes from the Consulate.
- The visa process can be complete either face-to-face or at a distance through the Visa Center courier service.
- Better Hours of Business: Monday through Friday 9:00am to 5:00pm (closed on Saturday and Sunday)
- In the offices, they offer additional services for purchase that are not available at the consulates: completion of application forms, photocopying, mail service processing, etc. Everything is set up so that you don’t have to come back on another day (and of course do business).
- In exchange for better service, the price of the visa is greater since applying requires additional management and a cost of $150 per visa is added. Personally, I consider this amount to be excessive. I guess that due to the current circumstances they will have fewer clients and must make the business profitable.
The individual consular sections recommend on their websites that you apply for a visa at the Russian Visa Center, as this significantly lightens their workload.
All other websites that offer Russian visa are NOT AUTHORIZED AGENCIES but simply private companies that act as intermediaries and make the final cost of the visa a lot more.
Option 3: Private agencies
One last option is to use the services of a private agency, which will be in charge of carrying out the whole process of managing the visa. The main advantage is the comfort (you give them your data and they take care of everything). The main drawback is that the price will be higher.
1.4. How much does it cost to get a visa?
The cost for processing a visa is divided into three quantities:
- The actual visa consular fee: AUD$120 for a tourist single entry visa (processed within 10 business days) or AUD$240 for an expedited Visa (processed in 3 business days). Double-entry (or multiple-entry) visas are more expensive.
- If you go to the Visa center you also have to pay for the service fee: AUD$150
- You must also add the cost of the letter of invitation or visa support (also called tourist confirmation letter). The cheapest are around AUD$25 (later I’ll explain how to get one for this price in a PDF format in a few minutes).
In total, the cost of processing the visa is:
- AUD$120 for the consular fee
- AUD$25 for the letter of invitation or visa support
- Total: AUD$145
If you do the procedure at the visa center, you must add AUD$150.
1.5. When should I start applying to get a visa?
Applying for a visa and gathering the necessary documentation can take some time, so I recommend beginning the process about 4 or 5 weeks ahead of time. Although, if you already have a passport and electronic copies of your documents, as I explain in this article, it is possible to get through the process in less than 2 weeks.
IMPORTANT: Applicants can apply for a visa up to 6 months before the date of travel to the Russia.
2. STEPS TO APPLY FOR A RUSSIAN VISA
When applying for a visa, you must provide the following information:
- The electronically completed Visa application form (One per person). You must print, sign, and glue a passport-sized photo (the photo must be glued on the form strictly at reserved place).
- Original Passport (must be the original) with no less than 2 empty pages for visas, valid for 6 months from the visa expiry date.
- Copy of the data page of the passport (the page containing personal data and photograph of the holder, passport number, issue and expiry dates);
- A copy of high quality or original tourist confirmation letter (“Podtverzdeniye”) or letters (if your stay in Russia is arranged by 2 travel companies/hotels) issued by an authorized hosting Russian travel agency or Hotel, authorized to invite foreign citizens in the Russian Federation and registered in the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- A double-entry tourist visa is issued to a foreign citizen only if according to the documents during the stay in the Russian Federation he/she plans to visit a third country and to return through the territory of the Russian Federation. In addition, a detailed travel itinerary should be included in the package tour description (or in the confirmation of acceptance of a foreign citizen issued by a host Russian organization).
- If you are not an Australian citizen you must check the additional requirements for your country in this link.
Next I’ll explain the step-by-step process of obtaining your visa. Remember that the visa application form must be filled out with information from your tourist confirmation letter and must clearly state the dates of your visit and which cities you will be staying in. Because of this, it’s better to gather your documents and complete the form once you have all of the information you need for the visa application.
Step 1. Have a valid passport
To apply for a visa, you must have a valid international passport (or another ID recognized as such in the Russian Federation) that is valid for at least six months after visa’s expiration date stated in the invitation. You should also have at least two consecutive blank pages available.
Remember that you must have an original passport as the visa is an adhesive document that you have to stick inside the pages of your passport.
You must also submit a copy of the data page of the passport (the page containing personal data and photograph of the holder, passport number, issue and expiry dates).
Your passport must not present any type of deterioration such as being torn on the cover, be stained or having broken pages. In these cases it is better to renew the passport before applying for the visa, since in the consulate they are usually very strict and they won’t approve the visa if the passport is damaged.
Step 2. Set your itinerary: Cities and Hotels
Your visa must include your entry and exit dates meaning the first and last date that you will be in the country. This means you will need to know the dates of your trip before applying for your visa.
You do not have to buy tickets in order to get a visa but you should take the following into account:
- If you apply for a visa before buying your tickets, it’s possible that you won’t be able to find flights for the exact dates for which you applied or they may be more expensive. Remember that the earlier you book your flights the cheaper they will be.
- It is possible that you will purchase tickets in advance (if you’ve found a great deal or good price) and then not receive your visa (although I don’t know anyone who has been denied).
Once you know your entry and exit dates, you should outline your itinerary and plan out the cities you want to visit and the hotels or apartments where you’ll be staying:
- On the visa application form, you have to include the cities you are going to visit as well as whether you will be making multiple entries. The most common type is a single-entry visa but you may also want to visit Finland and then return to St. Petersburg or visit a country that borders Russia like China and Mongolia by taking the Trans-Siberian railway. You may also want to visit Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan or Georgia. If so, you need to be very clear about where you will be going and what dates you will be entering or exiting the country.
- IMPORTANT: Double-entry tourist visas are granted only if the following conditions are met: 1. In between of entries into Russia a foreigner is visiting only a neighboring country (including the EU Shengen countries); 2. The purpose of travel to this country is tourism.
- There is nothing wrong with requesting for a visa that includes days prior to those when you will actually be visiting. Just make sure that your exit and entry dates are included within the date range that is listed on your visa.
- To get a letter of invitation or visa support (later I’ll explain in greater detail what this is), you will need to know which hotels or apartments you will be staying in. However, once you arrive, it doesn’t matter if you end up staying in a different hotel or Airbnb apartment (say you find one that’s cheaper or better quality) as long as you are still staying in the city that you are visiting.
To book accommodation you can use Ostrovok, a Russian booking platform in which you can find wide variety of accommodation and very good deals. Due to the conflict with Ukraine, Western booking platforms such as Booking do not offer their services in Russia
Many people ask me about hotels to stay in Russia. Well, I made a short list of hotels I recommend as value for money is very good (use Ostrovok to book):
- Ibis Moscow Centre Bakhrushina (3 stars)
- Novotel Moscow Centre (4 stars)
- Novotel Moscow City (4 stars)
- Radisson Royal Hotel (5 stars)
- Ibis St Petersburg Centre (3 stars)
- Novotel St Petersburg Centre (4 stars)
- Park Inn by Radisson Nevsky (4 stars)
- Radisson Royal Hotel (5 stars)
More info about accommodations in Rusia in these articles:
- Accommodations in Russia: How to choose and where to make a reservation cheaply
- Organizing a Trans-Siberian Train Trip
A typical example itinerary for a trip to Russia:
- Trip Dates: July 21-30, 2024 (10 days)
- Stay in Saint Petersburg from July 21-24 in Novotel St. Petersburg center Hotel.
- Travel on the Red Arrow night train from Saint Petersburg to Moscow during the night of July 24 (I recommend that you get tickets for the train electronically through the RZD Russian trains website instead of using a third party).
- Stay in Moscow from July 25-30 in Cosmos Hotel.
Step 3. Get a letter of invitation or visa support
The letter of invitation (also known as the visa support letter or tourist confirmation letter) is the most important document but also the most controversial. The letter of invitation should not be confused for a hotel reservation. They are not the same. It is not necessary to have a hotel reservation in order to get a visa.
This document is needed to apply for a visa and must be issued by a Russian person, institution, hotel, or business who has invited you to visit them. A Russian family member, university you’ll be attending, a business or a hotel where you will be staying can provide you with the letter.
Visa support is the most common support received when getting a tourist visa. This document is issued by the hotel in which you’ll be staying and is printed on an A4 page. It is divided in two separate but similar parts:
- The Tourist Services Contract (tourist voucher) is the document that states that you have hired a Russian hotel service. This part will show your personal information, the cities you will be visiting, as well as the services you will receive from the hotel and the proof that you have paid for a reservation.
- The Foreign Tourist Reception Confirmation (confirmation letter), as the name indicates, confirms you will use the hotel during your visit. It also includes personal information and the accommodations you’ll be provided with during your stay. The visa support includes 4 things that you will need when filling out your visa application form. Take a look at the example of the real visa support shown below to see the 4 things which are marked in red:
- Name of organization: Visa Centre, LLC
- Address: 10, Bolshaya Konyushennaya st, 4th floor, St. Petersburg
- Reference number: 007612
- Confirmation number: 3856
I included this screenshot of an actual letter of invitation but blurred the personal information so that you can see the important pieces more easily:
How do you get visa support for a tourist trip? There are two options:
- OPTION 1. Ask for it directly from the HOTEL, they can either fax or email it to you. While the document should be free in theory, the hotels usually charge a fee (between AUD$30 and AUD$60). If you stay in two or more hotels, you will need an invitation letter from each hotel.
Please note: if the hotel makes you a free invitation letter you must stay at the hotel since if you cancel the reservation after obtaining the free invitation, the hotel can invalidate it or charge you a supplement in your credit card.
- OPTION 2. Getting a letter of invitation on your own through an authorized RUSSIAN TOUR OPERATOR. If you simply want to do things more quickly without having to call or email each individual hotel, there are different travel agencies that can quickly provide the visa support online in 5 minutes for about AUD$25. With this option you can include the hotels or apartments in which you are going to stay, but with the advantage that later you can change the hotels after obtaining your visa (you may find a cheaper hotel, or Airbnb apartment or one that you simply like better than the original hotel or apartment). You can get an invitation in 5 minutes in PDF format and you should print it in color. The three best options that I used to get an invitation letter are:
If you have booked your accommodation through Airbnb (or platforms such as Wimdu, Tripping, CouchSurfing, Interhome, HomeAway, VRBO, HomeStay, etc.), you can get an invitation through iVisa or Russia Support. In these cases, in the invitation request forms (Hotel section) specify “apartment + address”.
Let’s see how to obtain an invitation letter with these Russian tour operators:
iVisa is one of the best systems currently available to obtain an invitation letter to travel to Russia. The system of issuing visa support is fully automated. You receive the invitation letter immediately after paying (in PDF format ready to print). You can pay by credit card or Paypal. Currently, the price is about 20,50 USD each visa support.
The automated process of purchasing visa support can be done through this link:
The form is simple to fill. Here is an example:
3. Payment: PayPal or credit card
4. Download Invitation
After payment you can download the invitation letter in PDF format. You will also receive the invitation in your email. An example of a visa support:
The information you need to fill out the visa application form:
- Name of organization: Visa Centre, LLC
- Address: 10, Bolshaya Konyushennaya st, 4th floor, St. Petersburg
- Reference number: 007612
- Confirmation number: in the above example is 3856 but note that it is different for each visa support.
Another excellent system is that used by Russia Support, an agency specializing in the issuance of invitation letters. The form is very easy to fill out and allows you to get the invitation letter, ready to print and to present along with the rest of the documentation. The price is cheaper, it costs 19,90 USD. They usually send the letter of invitation quickly (in minutes), although sometimes it may take a few hours.
The process of purchasing visa support can be done through this link:
The form is simple to fill:
The information you need to fill out the visa application form:
- Name of organization: VOYAGE EXPO, Ltd
- Address: Russia, 109382 Moscow, 129 Lublinskaya st
- Reference number: 017740
- Confirmation number: in the above example is 166407 but note that it is different for each visa support.
Step 4. Fill out the Visa Application Form
Once you have all of the information you need as far as dates, entries/exits, a current passport, and your letter of invitation, you are ready to fill out the visa application form.
The form can be filled out electronically by visiting:
The application should include your personal information, the purpose of your visit (tourism, business, study, etc.), your itinerary and dates, your insurance policy information and other information that I’ll show you here.
When you go to fill out the form for the first time, you should select your country (Australia) and the language you would like to continue in. Also mark in the box that you have read the introductory information. Next, click Complete new application form.
Important things to keep in mind:
- It must be filled out online and printed out double-sided from PDF format.
- One application per person (adults and children).
- No blank spaces must be left. If a question does not apply, type “N/A”. If the answer is none, write “None”.
- Ensure that the dates of your entry and exit, as entered in the application form, match with or fall within the period specified in the invitation or visa support.
- If visa application is filled on behalf of children under 18 years of age, copy of birth certificate of applicant and the copy of front page passport of parent must be included in the supporting documents.
- The form should bear the original signature of applicant. Application form of children under 18 must be signed by one of the parents.
- Question no.25: 30 entries is sufficient.
Let’s see how the form is filled out:
You can leave your form incomplete and come back another day but make sure to write down the code you are given in reference to your account since you will need it, along with your last name and answer to your security question, in order to log back in to your account. If you forget your code, you will have to fill out a new application. Example of password: ma12345678
The first information they will ask on the application under the “Visa details” section are:
- If you had USSR or Russian nationality at some time
- Purpose of visit and visa category and type
- Number of entries (single or multiple)
- Date of entry into Russia / Date of exit
Once you have filled out this information, click the Next button:
On the next page, you should input your personal information in capital letters as it appears on your passport:
- First name
- If you have ever had other names: maiden names, pseudonym, holy order, etc.
- Date of birth
- Place of birth
- You must specify whether you were born in Russia
- Marital status
On the next page, finish entering the information from your passport:
- Type of passport
- Passport number
- Date of issue
- Date of expiry
- The name of the authority your passport was issued by (Australian Passport Office – Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade)
In the section that says Visit details, you should include the following information from your visa support that I mentioned earlier:
- Travel company (in the case of tourist visa)
- Name of organization
- Reference number
- Confirmation number
Note: If you have more than one visa support, you only need to fill out the information for the visa support from the first city that you will be visiting.
You should also include information from your itinerary (cities you’ll visit) as well as the name of your insurance company and policy number if you have travelers insurance. It’s always recommended that you have traveler’s insurance (for example, Ingosstrakh insurance). Be aware that it will not let you include commas or periods in the boxes.
Next, you need to indicate who is paying for the trip to Russian as well as the hotels you will be staying in including the name and address (these should coincide with those listed in your visa support).
To continue, you will need to answer a series of questions, the answer to most o which will be “no” except for the question that asks if you have personally completed the application to which you should answer “yes”.
On the next page, mark whether you have attended any educational institutions, excluding secondary school. Also mark if you have ever changed your place of employment before entering the current job.
On the next page, mark whether or not you have received a Russian visa in the past, if you lost your passport, or if it has been stolen as well as the other countries that you have visited in the last 10 years which will probably take some difficult remembering (I can hardly ever remember them all).
To continue, you will need to enter family information (name of your father and mother, your contact information, and the company where you work or school where you study. The required fields are marked with a red asterisk. If applicable, you should indicate whether your parents are from Russia.
Lastly, select the place where you will be processing your visa application: Russian Consulates in Canberra or Sydney or Russian Visa Center in Sydney .
Once you have finished entering all of the information, a summary will appear in case you would like to change something. If all of the information looks correct, click the Save button.
On the next page, you’ll see that you can download the completed form as a PDF. Simply click on the A4 Print button.
Example of PDF form:
Step 5. Print the form, sign it, and glue the required photo
After filling the Electronic Visa Application form online, you must print a copy of the application form, sign and date it, glue the required size photo to it.
Photo requeriments. One photograph of 3.5 by 4.5 cm, in color taken against a light background (white or off – white). The photo needs to display a full frontal view of the face. The facial image must be sharp and clear. Sunglasses or tinted glasses are not permitted. Head coverings and hats are only acceptable due to religious beliefs, and in this case there shall be a similar photo with a head covering in the applicant’s passport. The photo should be glued (not stapled or attached using adhesive tape) to the specially marked place of the application form.
Step 6. Take all of your documents to the Russian Consulate or to the Russian Visa Center
Now you have all the required documents: passport (and copy), invitation and completed form signed and with a photo.
It has not been difficult to get these documents, right?
The final step is to take everything to the Russian Consulate in Sydney or Canberra (or to the Visa Center in Sydney).
You can submit and collect your documents via postal service, but only through the Russian visa center in Sydney. In this case, you must prepare all required documents according to the type of visa (including Visa Application Cover letter).
Step 7. Collect and check your passport
You can collect your passport at the Russian Consulate. You will need to present the original receipt given to you during the submission which will be collected from you as a proof of delivery of your passport.
Also you can order a postal service to receive your passport at your home (only at the Russian Visa Center).
Finally, you must verify dates and check whether names are spelt correctly on issued visas immediately after collecting/receiving your passport.
Step 8. Travel insurance
Australian citizens are not required to present traveler’s medical insurance in order to receive a visa though it is recommend that you have medical insurance that will cover anything that may happen during your trip (medical expenses, cancellation costs, etc.)
A very good option is the Russian company ingosstrakh. You can buy and download the Policy directly online. To get a quote it’s very simple, just access the product page, select dates a number of travellers – automatically the system will provide the total price for the Medical Insurance Policy.
Example of travel insurance:
If you want to apply for a Russian visa in Australia on your own you can do it through the Russian Consulates (AUD$120) o through the Russian Visa Center in Australia (AUD$270).
If you already have a passport (remember that you have to take or mail the original passport and a copy), the rest of the necessary documents for the visa application can be quickly and easily gathered in less than hour through the Internet:
- The letter of invitation for AUD$25 from iVisa or Russia Support.
- Complete the visa application form for free through the website https://visa.kdmid.ru/PetitionChoice.aspx, which you can print, sign, and glue a photo to.
Once you have all the documents, take them personally or by post and in less than 10 business days your visa for your trip to Russia should be ready (3 days for expedited applications)
3. ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR COVID-19 AND WAR IN UKRAINE
Once you have obtained the visa and before boarding the plane, you must take into account the additional requirements for Covid-19 that must be met:
Every passenger must show a printed medical document (in English or Russian), confirming a negative PCR test for COVID-19 no older than 48 hours, at the check-in and then at the border of the Russian Federation. Since 4 September 2021 the 14-days isolation for those arriving to Russia is no longer required. As of October 21, 2022, a negative Covid-19 PCR certificate is no longer required for foreigners to enter Russia. As a consequence, you can enter Russia with your passport and valid visa.
- However, you still need to fill out a form that you can download on the website of the Federal Service for the Supervision of Consumer Protection and Welfare (Rospotrebnadzor): https://www.rospotrebnadzor.ru/files/news/авиаАнкета%20RUS.docx (at the border they will provide you with this form to fill out)
- Despite the war in Ukraine, consulates issue visas to travel to Russia.
4. SUBSEQUENT FORMAL PROCEEDINGS AFTER OBTAINING THE VISA
Once you already have a visa you should bear in mind that there are two additional steps that must be done once you get to Russia: the immigration card and visa registration. The first thing is usually completed by the customs officer and the second the hotel where you will stay.
It is important to always carry both the passport and the immigration card while traveling, and the accreditation of the registry in case it may be required from you on the street by the police (it is rare for them to do so, though).
3.1. Immigration card
Once you enter the territory of the Russian Federation, you must fill out the immigration card, though in practice, at large airports, it is usually the immigration service which takes care of it (either digitally or manually). It is done during passport control.
The immigration card is a paper which consists of two equal parts that are the size of a passport page. One of the parts is kept by the border police and the second will be delivered to you. It is important that you keep this card as they will ask it to you when you leave the country. In addition, you will also need the immigration card to register the visa, as I explain in the next section.
In the following screenshot you can see how the immigration card looks, which usually comes in Russian and English:
More info about inmigration card in this article: Russian airports: Immigration card and customs formalities.
If you have applied for a tourist visa, you have the obligation to register within the first 7 working days of arrival (excluding weekends and holidays). Before March 2011, the registration must be done within 72 hours, but the new Russian law modified this term. If you are going to stay in Russia less than 7 working days, then you do not need to register.
The purpose of this registry (which comes from the communist era) is to notify immigration authorities of the place where you will stay while you are in Russia. The registration must be done in each of the cities that you are going to visit.
You will need to fill out another registration form. It’s not your obligation to register, but rather the hotel where you are staying or the host of the apartment where you are staying.
If you are staying in a hotel, when you arrive, the hotel itself will register your visa. They will ask you the passport with the visa and immigration card (the one you get at the border when you arrive to the country).
If you will not stay in a hotel, but in a private house, then the Russian host is the one required to register his/her guest at a police station or at the post office. You don’t need to be present in the registry but you must provide your host a copy of the first page of the passport, the visa and the immigration card. You may be charged a small fee for this procedure.
The accreditation registration is not required to leave the country, though the immigration card is required.
In the following screenshot you can see how this form looks. The tourist stays with the bottom part (from the dotted line):
More info about registration in this article: Registration in Russia: What it is and how it is done.
I hope this article has helped you apply for your visa to Russia from Australia!
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PD: If you also want to obtain the visa to China, you can read this detailed guide.