Russian visa for EU citizens

Published by Mike Lomberg March 26, 2020
Flying to modern Moscow

Russia has long been visited by EU citizens on many purposes. If you’ve set your mind on traveling to Russia, you’ll get some of the most diverse, interesting and varied experiences here. But first, you might face the question:

Do EU citizens need a visa to Russia?

The answer is – Yes, they do.

But don’t let the dreary prospect of getting a visa make you drop your plans. It’s truly not as hard as it seems. Follow me in this article, and we’ll get you a visa in 5 simple steps.

Step 1. Know your travel dates and visa type

Buying tickets or making any prepaid booking arrangements is not necessary to get a visa, but you’ll need to select certain time for your travel. Depending on the duration of you trip, and the reason for traveling, you’ll need to apply for a specific type of visa. Below you’ll see the main Russian visa types and their characteristics to help you make your choice.

Russian Tourist visa for EU citizens

Exception: Spanish citizens can apply for 180 days tourist visa with multiple entry but stay no longer than 90 days within visa validity.

Russian Private visa for EU citizens

Russian Business and Humanitarian visa for EU citizens

No longer than 90 days. A business visa can be issued for a period from 1 month up to 5 years. Normally, you can apply for 3-5 years visa, after having had several consequent 1-2 years business visas before. Still, you can stay only 90 days out of each 180 within the validity time of your visa.

Inviting party: Russian host organization

Russian Student visa for EU citizens

From 90 days and over, depending on the duration of study course. A student visa is issued for 90 days but can be prolonged on the territory of Russia. It’s possible to stay in Russia uninterruptedly during the validity of student visa

Russian Work visa for EU citizens

From 90 days and over, depending on the duration of your employment contract. Highly Qualified Specialists get 3 years multiple visa at once. The rest obtain 90 days work visa with possibility of extension in Russia. It’s possible to stay in Russia uninterruptedly during the validity of work visa

Russian Transit visa for EU citizens

Russian Electronic visa for EU citizens

An E-visa has been introduced just recently and allows entry to one of the three designated areas upon your choice: Saint Petersburg and Leningrad region, Kaliningrad and Kaliningrad region, Vladivostok and the Far East. Make sure you enter and leave through the same border point. Moving freely inside the entire country isn’t allowed. If you wish more freedom in your travel, consider getting a standard tourist visa.

Step 2. Collect the required documents for your visa.

After you have decided on the visa type you need, and figured out how long you are planning to stay in Russia and how many times you’ll enter it, it’s time to collect the list of documents for your visa application. It includes the following:

E-visa applicants can use our professional help to fill in the form and avoid any mistakes. Get it here: Contact Visando

Or an invitation issued by the Ministry of Internal Affairs upon request of the Russian inviting company (also known as EFMS made in 20 working days), 

Or an invitation issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, upon request of the Russian host company (also referred to as Telex made in 12 working days). 

If your partner has no possibility to provide you with either type, you can use our service and order it here: Get business invitation

Step 3. Apply for your visa and pay visa fees.

Russian visa applications are received by the Russian Consular divisions in foreign countries. You should find the nearest Russian consulate and make prior appointment on their website to be able to apply.

Alternatively, you can use licensed Russian visa centers to apply. Normally visa centers don’t require prior appointment to be made and some e.g. in Spain, offer application by mail, which makes your personal visit there unnecessary. Find the list of visa centers here: Russian Consulates and Embassies

Application through Russian Consulate Pros & ConsApplication through licensed Russian Visa Center Pros & Cons
+ You only have to pay consular fee, no extras for service

– You should come in person and book an appointment

– You will have to collect your passport also in person, no delivery is offered

– you won’t get any help or advice with your documents, if something is wrong, your application won’t be accepted
+ You can apply either in person or by mail (service offered in certain visa centers)

+ Your documents will be checked by the manager, and if something is incorrectly filled, the manager will point it out and help you get it right

+ You can order delivery back to your home or office

+ You can use extra services like photocopies, buying travel insurance, taking your color photo or even filling the form for you

+ You won’t need to book prior appointment, usually you can apply during regular working hours

– You’ll need to pay service fee and extra fees for any additional services

Visa centers have been created especially to facilitate the process of visa application and create more comfortable conditions for the applicants, but it’s up to you to choose, whether you want to apply through the Consulate or a Visa center.

Remember though, that the final decision is taken by the Consular officers, and Visa Center managers do not influence the decision of issuing a visa, they simply process your documents and submit them to the specified Consular division.

Visa fees and processing time

When applying for a visa you’ll need to pay visa fees which include Consular fee, normally a fixed amount given on the website of the Consulate, and service fees, which are indicated on the website of the chosen visa center.

Please check the websites of chosen divisions to ascertain the amount of visa fees and methods of payment available.

Standard processing normally takes 4 – 20 working days, and if you wish there’s also Urgent processing in 1-3 working days, for which you have to pay double Consular fee. For applicants ordering mail service, the process might take a bit longer. Please, contact visa center to know the exact processing time.

Important: E-visa applicants don’t need to pay any visa fees.

Step 4. Receive and check your visa.

After you have picked up your passport with visa in it, or received it through delivery, having ordered such service at the Visa Center, you will need to carefully examine the information in your visa. Check number of entries, validity dates, visa type, invitation company.

See a sample of Russian visa here:

Russian visa stamp

E-visa applicants are recommended to also carefully check their applications. If something is incorrectly filled, you might be rejected entry at the border point.

If your visa suits your expectations, start packing your bags. Don’t forget to take your passport, travel insurance policy, hotel bookings and invitation with you. Be ready to answer simple questions on the purpose of your trip, inviting organisation, duration of visit and place of stay at the border. Have a safe journey!

Step 5. Two documents to get while in Russia

Once you have arrived to Russia you’ll need to collect two more documents for your stay:

Migration Card is normally distributed on board the plane by flight attendants, and can also be found at border points or given you by the immigration officer. It’s a document, consisting of two parts. You need to fill both with identical information in block letters in pen, in Russian or English. Write your passport details, dates of trip and inviting company. Immigration officer will stamp the document and save one part for himself. Another part will be left to you, and you’re supposed to return it after your visit is finished. Carry the migration card always with you.

Russian migration card form

Registration proves your legal stay in Russia at a certain address. It’s required if your visit exceeds 7 working days. It’s made by the hotel where you stay, or by the owner of the apartment if you stay in one. Please, contact the owner and make sure he’ll be able to provide you with this document. He’ll need to get it at the local post or police office. Airbnb owners normally charge you extras for this document. This document should also be carried along during your visit. Registration should be done during the first 7 business days of your stay.

Russian registration form

Now you are all ready for your visit to Russia. Hope my guide helped you get your visa, and answered all main questions. If you still need to clarify some issues, contact us by email for your free consultation.