Organizing your Visa for Russia

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Russia’s visa procedures are straightforward but they are longer and more expensive than in most other countries. Of course, you can find information in guidebooks (here are the ones we use) but reading personal experiences is often more useful. So, enjoy. Here’s the lowdown on organizing your visa for Russia.

Note:

  • You will find the links to VFS Global, Rusreis and KES at the bottom of the blog post.
  • These were our experience as Dutch citizens in October 2017 (tourist visa) and February 2018 (business visa). While many procedures are similar for Europeans, this is not always the case (e.g. Germans cannot apply in South Korea unless they have a residence permit).

Why two visas?

To get a long-term business visa, rules require you to have visited Russia in the past year on a tourist visa. Most Europeans will make a quick weekend trip to St. Petersburg or Moscow, but since we were in South Korea, we a visited Vladivostok for a week on a Tourist Visa (read here).

1. Tourist Visa for Russia

  • Valid for one month. They can be single-entry or double-entry, however, according to the VFS Global website the double-entry is only given when planning to visit neighboring states or states that require returning to Russia in order to go home (e.g. Mongolia). We bought a single-entry visa.
  •  The paperwork for visas is outsourced to VFS Global which is the easiest way to apply. Apparently, you can also apply directly at the embassy but many give you a headache, or so we have been told (at least in the Netherlands). 
  • Check the VFS Global website to find their offices worldwide. We applied in Seoul, South Korea, which was easygoing. 
  • We paid 82,000 Won per person for the visa including processing charges (about US $65). 
  • Processing the visas took 10 working days.

Requirements for the application:

  1. Fill in the application form (see VFS Global website).
  2. An invitation and you need to enter the name of the organization on the application form. 
  3. A paper from your health insurance stating that you are covered in Russia. 
  4. Recent headshot. Check VFS Global website for specifications.

Regulations may have changed, so check VFS Global’s website for all requirements.

Rusreis.nl took care of #1, #2 and #3. We recommend Lena & Peter. They are super quick in responding to emails, professional, kind and helpful. We paid €25 pp for which they got us an invitation, filled in the forms and double checked everything. Their website is in Dutch and I don’t know if they help non-Dutch as well. They partner with KES Visum which has a website in English which may be useful to non-Dutch citizens.

@VFS Global

2. Business Visa for Russia

  • Valid for one year. You have to give the starting date when applying for the visa. Note that one year means that the one year is split up into two periods of 180 days, and in each period you may stay a maximum of 90 days. You can never stay more than 90 days in a row.
  • Again we applied at a VFS Global’s office, this time in the Netherlands. It is much easier to apply for a business visa in Europe than in some of the other countries; e.g. when applying in Korea you have to get an HIV test done.
  • We paid €65 per person for the visa including processing charges.
  • Processing the visas took 10 working days.

Requirements for a Business Visa:

  1. An invitation, which we also organized through Rusreis.nl. We paid €130 pp.
  2. A paper from your health insurance stating that you are covered in Russia.
  3. Recent headshot.

Maybe things have changed so check VFS Global’s website for all requirements.

FWIW: we know of a Dutch couple with kids that tried getting business visas but who didn’t succeed because kids can’t get a business visa. However, we recently met a French couple also with two kids and they had no problem getting a 3-month, multiple-entry business visas for the family.

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We hope you find this useful. If you have any questions, please ask in the comment section below and we’ll try to answer as best as possible.

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6 thoughts on “Organizing your Visa for Russia

  1. Last year we, two Germans, applied directly for a business Visum. We never had a tourist visum beforehand. We used an visa agency in Germany.

  2. We got a Business Multiple Entry in 2013 (valid for 180 days and only 90 days maximum stay in Russia) without having another Russian visa before.
    Being Belgians we applied in Belgium and had to do the HIV test.
    I thought that it was impossible to get a visa for Russia in another country than your country of residence.

  3. We got information from a Dutch couple that managed to organise a business visa through an agency without a prior visit to Russia. We met them in De Lutte ;-). We will try also and let you know!

    • Really??? Well, maybe it’s possible when applying for a business visa directly in your own country?… Thanks for sharing! Good info.

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