Russian Visa Requirements

Published by John Galt March 24, 2020

If you’ve made the decision to visit Russia to discover the wonders of Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Vladivostok and other gems the country has to offer, you probably have some questions about the visa process.

Common concerns include whether you need a visa, how to obtain it, how much it’ll cost, how long it will take, which documents to prepare, and if you’ll need to go to the Russian embassy in person or not.

Take a deep breath in, and relax – we’re here to help!. In this article you will find information on the above-mentioned points, and also some additional tips to help you get your visa in a stress-free way, so you can focus on planning your dream trip.

Firstly, there are some countries where citizens do not require any visa to enter Russia under international agreements. These include most CIS states, Latin American countries, Thailand, South Korea, Israel, and some others. However, if you are a citizen of the US, an EU country, Australia or Canada you will need to get a visa prior to entering Russia.

Visas can be divided into categories depending on the duration of your trip:

Depending on the purpose of the trip visas fall into the following categories:

You will find a detailed description of each of these types further down this article.

A standard visa is a sticker that is glued into your passport by an officer of the Russian consulate department in your country. You can apply for a visa either directly at the Russian consulate in your country or through a licensed visa center. Some centers provide application via mail (e.g. visa centers in the USA, Canada, Australia), in others, you should apply in person or through a representative.

The main steps to apply for a visa will include:

Russian Tourist Visa

Tourist visa Photo

This visa is non-immigration and is issued for travellers entering Russia for tourist and leisure purposes. It is valid for 30 days and can have a single or double entry. NOTE: Citizens of the USA under the agreement on simplification of visa procedures are entitled to a three-year multiple entry tourist visa to Russia. To obtain this type of visa you should collect the standard set of documents including:

The processing of a tourist visa application at the consulate normally takes 10-12 working days or 1-4 working days for the urgent service. Please note that applications via traditional mail can require additional time for processing. Visa fees differ depending on the country you’re applying to. You can find the rates and terms on the website of the Russian consulate from where you are planning to apply.

Russian Business Visa

This visa type is suitable for those who are entering the Russian Federation for business purposes, for example, negotiations, business meetings, seminars, conferences, exhibitions, etc.

It can have single, double or multiple entries and allows you to stay 90 days out of every 180 within the period of visa validity. To apply for this type of visa you should collect the required documents, including:

NOTE: For US citizens it is recommended to apply for the three-year business visa with a written statement from the Russian inviting company – printed copies are accepted.

For UK/Australian citizens, only a business invitation from the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia is accepted by the consulate. It must be submitted along with the cover letter from the inviting Russian company – printed copies are accepted.

You can learn more about the business visa on our website:

To order the necessary invitation click here:

Russian Work visa

If you are applying from a country of which you are not a citizen you should also present a document proving your legal stay in this country – a residence permit or a long-term valid visa.

Russian Student Visa

If your intention is to study in a Russian educational institution you should obtain a student visa before your trip. This visa is granted for 90 days with single entry only but can be extended on the territory of the Russian Federation.

The extension procedures are carried out by the local office of the migration service at Russian MIA. The student is required to be registered at the office in order to have the extension if necessary for studies up to one year, as permitted by Russian Law.

Documents you’ll need to apply for a student visa:

Russian Private Visa

Also referred to as the Visitor Guest visa, this option will suit you if you are planning to come to Russia to visit friends and relatives for up to 90 days with single or double entry. To be able to apply for a private visa you need to submit the following documents:

An official invitation issued by MIA of Russia upon the request of the host citizen of the Russian Federation, a foreigner holding a Russian residence permit, or a legal entity.

If you plan to enter Russia together with the relative who is a Russian citizen, he/she can submit a written request to the Russian embassy for the joint entry to the country. Likewise, if you have an urgent situation such as urgent medical treatment or death of close relatives residing in Russia, you can also submit a direct request in a written form explaining your reasons to the Russian embassy and attaching documents as evidence, such as a death certificate, emergency hospitalization request from the clinic, etc.

For US citizens it is recommended to apply for the three-year multiple-entry private visas regardless of the period of stay indicated in the invitation from the Russian party under the international agreements.

Russian Transit Visa

If you plan to cross the Russian border when making a connection on your way to another country, you will be required to present a valid transit visa at passport control. If you plan to pass the Russian Federation while traveling by road to another country you will also be required to have a transit visa. Russian transit visas are issued for up to ten days if traveling by road or railroad and up to three days for flight connections. The time of transit visa validity will depend on the time you will need for your route in Russia.
Foreign citizens making a connection without the need to leave the transit zone while waiting for the connection do not require a visa. However, if you wish to do some sightseeing while waiting for your next flight you’ll need a transit visa to enter the city.

To apply for a transit visa you will need:

Humanitarian Visa

For individuals who are traveling with the aim of participating in cultural, sports, religious, scientific, political, cultural, charity or missionary events, a Humanitarian visa is necessary to enter Russia.

Documents you will need to apply for this visa type:

Quick tips: