Process for Acquiring a Russian Tourist Visa and Invitation Letter/Vouchers

Okay folks, this visa process is a bit more in depth than any of the other visa applications for any other country we have visited. Since we’re in the process of applying for several visas for the Mongol Rally, we’ll walk you through the steps to getting a Russian visa and invitation letter, and what to expect throughout the process.

  1. Make sure your passport is valid for 6 more months, at the least.
  2. Get two passport pictures in color, against a white background, and have them cropped to the exact 2’x2’ size.
  3. Download visa application form. Now, it may seem pedantic, but the form MUST be printed on both sides of one piece of paper. You cannot have two pages. Fill the form out in black or blue ink only, no pencil or crayon or marker or anything else. If you don’t know the answer to a question on the form, you may need to call a visa agent to ask for clarification, but don’t leave anything blank. You’ll need your work history, school history and information from your passport and travel plans (see step #6).An invitation letter is required for a tourist visa. In order to get this letter you’ll need to talk to your inviting institution (like a University, or friend, etc). If you don’t have anyone inviting you to Russia you may need to purchase an invitation letter from a visa company. The letter usually costs about $15 – $30 dollars.
  4. Travel vouchers. In many cases, vouchers will be needed for your hotels, etc. If you go through a visa company they will usually take care of the vouchers for you.
  5. You’ll need to know your exact entry and exit dates for Russia, as well as your itinerary. You’ll deliver some of this information on the visa form itself, and the rest in the application form for the invitation letter. The more specific you are, the better as this helps with the travel vouchers (or so we hear).
  6. Finally, mail all of this into the visa company (highly recommended over doing the process yourself, which results in more rejections) along with your money order for the consulate and a separate money order to pay the visa company.
  7. Most visa companies specify the duration or return time as anywhere from 10 to 20 days. If you want to expedite your visa, the consulate will charge you an added fee, as will the visa company. Plan ahead with this and have at least a month planned for this single visa.
  8. Once you get to Russia you have three business days to register your visa with the hotel or with the visa agency you used to get your visa. Don’t miss this, or you could be fined when you try to leave the country.

Good luck!

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