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. It’s 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?

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 invitation. If you don’t have an official invitation, you can opt to get an invitation through the tourist board when you apply. This costs £10 and is the cheapest option I’ve found. Other companies ask for up to $50. 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.

Monica is the founder and editor of The Travel Hack. She began the blog in 2009 when she left the UK to travel around Asia and Australia for two years. She's now a full time blogger and has travelled around the world in search of the best holidays. Monica lives in Wales with her growing family and now also blogs about travelling with young children!


  • May 23, 2012

    This is great, Monica. Russia is seriously high on my destination wish list…I am hoping to head there sometime next year.
    I believe you about the cold…I’d love to explore some of the northern areas and also Kamchatka in the east, but am a little freaked out about how cold it is.

        March 22, 2013

        Yeah, great tips! You’re really lucky with that visa, Monica. Some of my friends went through a tough process of visa processing. It’s not actually that cold, like people talking. You can get used to this weather, but it’s great to go South in the winter, that’s what many people do, actually.

  • Jen
    May 24, 2012

    I had no idea you had to pay for a Russian tourist visa – how dense am I? Great advice, I would have been baffled if I’ve have just gone ahead and booked a flight! xx

  • July 7, 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:

  • August 8, 2012

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

  • October 8, 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.

  • June 20, 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!

  • November 26, 2019

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


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