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Monica’s Mini Guide to…Getting a Russian Visa

Monica’s Mini Guide to…Getting a Russian Visa

Russia is an amazing country to visit but, let’s be honest, it isn’t the easiest. Before you even get there you’ve got the hassle of getting a Russian visa. Yes, if you didn’t know, you need a tourist visa to visit Russia.

Don’t let this put you off visiting Russia. Getting a Russian visa is an extra expense but it isn’t nearly as difficult as some people suggest. It’s actually really easy. Here’s how to get a tourist visa for Russia and a couple of helpful tips for your visit.

How do I apply for a Russian visa?

You need to apply for a visa before you leave online. You can do it here at 

You will probably need a tourist visa. It’s really simple to fill out the form and you just need to follow the instructions. You’ll need to know which hotel you’re staying at and there are a mammoth amount of questions but it’s nothing too difficult.

When applying for your visa you will need an official Russian invitation letter. If you don’t have an official invitation, you can opt to get an invitation through the tourist board when you apply. This costs $19 but be aware that some companies ask for up to $50 so be careful where you get your invitation letter from. I don’t really understand the invitation thing. I guess it’s just another way to make money.

You then pay online, print out your mammoth form and send it off in the post with a passport photo. You can post it to either Edinburgh or London or if you live close to either of the offices, you can hand it in or pick it up in person.

How much does it cost?

It costs £125 for a single entry 30 day visa. This will take 7 working days to process. If you need an express visa, they can process it in 2 days but this will cost £220.

Other useful things to know:

If you’re travelling in the winter, it will be even colder than you can possibly imagine so remember your winter woollies and a good pair of boots with strong grips.

  • If you’re travelling in the winter, it will be even colder than you can possibly imagine so remember your winter woollies and a good pair of boots with strong grips.
  • You can’t use your debit or credit card everywhere but there are plenty of cash machines.
  • Always carry your passport – a lot of tourist attractions require a passport for some strange reason. I couldn’t visit the TV tower because I didn’t have my passport on me.
  • Russian people aren’t big on small talk. Don’t think they’re being rude if they’re not blabbering away to you about the weather.
  • Don’t expect many people to speak English, particularly older people. Most people are more than willing to help you if you’re lost or need advice but look out for those aged under 25 and you’ll have more chance of getting an English speaker.

So that’s pretty much it and it’s way easier than most people think. If you have any questions, either about travelling to Russia or visas, just let me know.


Tuesday 26th of November 2019

So I never knew it was that easy to apply for a Russian Visa... Thanks for this article...I will be applying soon

James Z

Saturday 20th of June 2015

Im an aussie in London and I was able to get my Russian visa within 10 working days. Tourist Visas are really quite simple.

I documented some of the requirements here:

Hopefully this is of use to someone!

Travel Buddy

Tuesday 8th of October 2013

Oh so its really easy to apply for a Russian visa, I'd love to have one of those dolls, they look really cute.


Wednesday 8th of August 2012

HI! Im russian travel-blogger (from Siberia) and I can help everybody who want to go in Russia. Any qwestion - wellcome!

Matt Bowers

Saturday 7th of July 2012

The wife and just finished the process - we're Americans - and it is a pain in the butt. We're excited to see Saint Petersburg and go on Midnight Bike Rides.

For you other american readers on Monica's site, here's our step by step guide to the new online application if you're interested: