How long does it take to get a Russian visa?

Published by Mike Lomberg March 25, 2020
Tourists applying for their Russian visa not always need to wait long

We all know that we should start planning a trip way in advance, but it’s not always as easy as it sounds to make plans three months before you’re due to set off. Sometimes you have an emergency requiring you to travel, or simply have a vacation from work granted at the last moment. Maybe you just planned a spontaneous trip after seeing a beautiful picture of the Red Square, and you made up your mind to get there as soon as possible to see it with your own eyes. 

Whatever the reason for your trip to Russia, you need to make sure you’ll have time to get your visa granted. Here we’ll explore how long it usually takes to get your visa and the main things to keep in mind to avoid missing your flight.

You’re not able to apply for a visa three months before your trip. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t start planning, or collecting the necessary documents to have them handy before the application time. This process can be quite time-consuming, so it’s a good idea to start gathering things as soon as possible.

These four factors will determine the time you need to obtain your visa:

Keep reading to learn more about these factors:

Russian Visa Invitation letter

Tourist visa support document

Tourist Voucher

The fastest support document to get for your visa application is travel support for a Russian tourist visa. A tourist invitation (a.k.a confirmation from a registered Russian travel agency) can be obtained within 10 minutes or up to one day. For countries such as the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UK and EU countries, which do not fall into the list of migration risk countries, a tourist invitation letter can be submitted to the consulate as a printed copy. You receive it via email from a travel agency within one day, print it out and then it’s ready to be used to apply for a tourist visa. You can read more about this invitation type here: Russian visa invitation letter

Business visa support document

There are several types of invitations required for a business visa. The fastest one to prepare is the written statement made by a Russian inviting company on its letterhead, sealed and signed by the company director. Such letters are available for countries with which Russia has signed an agreement on the Simplification of Visa Formalities, such as the USA and EU countries. If you are a US citizen you can obtain such an invitation by email from the inviting company within one day, print it out and use it to apply for a three-year multiple entry business visa.

For EU citizens such invitations are accepted both in copies and in originals. Normally a copy is enough to apply for a 90-day single/double entry business visa, while an original is required to apply for a 1-5-year multiple entry business visa. 

Another type of invitation that is quicker to prepare is telex, which is a decision to issue a visa from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A telex directive can be issued by MFA within one week. You simply receive the telex directive number and you can apply for your visa with it, no need to print out any documents or arrange delivery.

Russian Business Visa Invitation

An invitation issued by the Ministry of Internal affairs of Russia upon request of the inviting company. It can take from two weeks up to one month to receive. This option is the only one available for citizens of the UK, Australia, and other countries which don’t fall under the simplification of visa procedures agreement. Both electronic types and originals are accepted. If you get the electronic type you simply print it and apply for a visa. It should bear a bar code and an identification number. If the inviting company sends you the original document you’ll need to wait until you get it delivered and then apply. This will usually take another week. 

Work / Student visa support document

For long-term visas issued for work/studies, the only possible invitation type is the one issued by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia (former office of FMS) upon request of the inviting company (either an employer in the case of a work visa, or an educational institution in the case of a study visa). This kind of invitation is usually granted within one to two months. This invitation type is accepted only in paper original format, so make sure to ask for delivery, which should take around a week.

How long to prepare the necessary documents?

Aside from the invitation, you will need to buy travel insurance (takes a matter of minutes if you do it online!), take a color photo to submit with your application, and complete the visa form (available at, which in general can all be done in one or two days. For long term visas (work/student type), you’ll also need to obtain a HIV test certificate, no later than three months before you submit your visa application.

How long will the visa application process take?

After you have collected the necessary documents including visa support (invitation), you will apply either individually at the consulate of Russia in your country of residence, or through a visa center. If you do it by yourself, keep in mind that you won’t be able to simply turn up at the consulate of the Russian Federation without a prior appointment. You need to find a slot and book an appointment on the website of the consulate, and you might have to wait several weeks to be able to get a slot. The standard processing time at the consulate after you have submitted your documents will be:

Four to twenty working days for regular processing in EU countries, Australia, the UK

or one to three working days for expedited processing (for this you need to pay double the visa fee).

In the US it may take three to four weeks for regular processing, or one to two weeks for rush processing. If there’s an urgent situation requiring your immediate presence in Russia, you can appeal to the Consul General by writing a petition, which may reduce the processing time by up to three business days.

Please note, that the Consul has the right to review the submitted documents within up to 30 working days under special circumstances.

Now that you’ve learned more about the main factors influencing the processing time for your visa, bear them in mind before you start your application and organise your time accordingly.

If you decide to use the services of our center, we’ll guarantee the shortest application time for you. Our main aim is to speed up and simplify the visa application process for our customers, and we’ll always do our best to provide the best service for all applicants.

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