Most foreign citizens need a visa to enter the territory of the Russian Federation. However, citizens of some countries with a visa-free regime don’t have to get it. Here is a list of these countries:

Azerbaijan Must not stay longer than 90 days
Argentina Must not stay longer than 90 days per every 180 days, non-commercial purposes only
Armenia Must not stay longer than 90 days
Belarus Unlimited period
Bosnia and Herzegovina Tourists must not stay longer than 30 days per every 60 days. Must not stay longer than 90 days when traveling for other purposes,
Brazil Must not stay longer than 90 days per every 180 days, non-commercial purposes only
Venezuela Must not stay longer than 90 days per every 180 days, non-commercial purposes only
Guatemala Must not stay longer than 90 days per every 180 days, non-commercial purposes only
Israel Must not stay longer than 90 days per every 180 days, non-commercial purposes only
Kazakhstan Must not stay longer than 90 days. Entering under an internal passport is allowed.
Kyrgyzstan Must not stay longer than 90 days. Entering under an internal passport is allowed.
Columbia Must not stay longer than 90 days per every 180 days, non-commercial purposes only
Cuba Must not stay longer than 30 days
Macedonia Must not stay longer than 90 days
Moldova Must not stay longer than 90 days
Mongolia Must not stay longer than 30 days
Nicaragua Must not stay longer than 90 days per every 180 days, non-commercial purposes only
Peru Must not stay longer than 90 days per every 180 days, non-commercial purposes only
Serbia Must not stay longer than 30 days, owners of biometric passports given after April 8, 2008 only.
Tajikistan Must not stay longer than 90 days. Entering under an internal passport is allowed.
Thailand Must not stay longer than 30 days.
Uzbekistan Must not stay longer than 90 days.
Ukraine Must not stay longer than 90 days. Entering under an internal passport is allowed.
Uruguay Must not stay longer than 90 days per every 180 days, non-commercial purposes only
Fiji Must not stay longer than 90 days
Montenegro Must not stay longer than 30 days
Chile Must not stay longer than 90 days per every 180 days, non-commercial purposes only
Ecuador Must not stay longer than 90 days per every 180 days, non-commercial purposes only
South Korea Must not stay longer than 60 days per visit and no more than 90 days per every 180 days

Types of Russian visas and required paperwork

If you still need a visa, you need to know what type of visa you should get. Each type requires different paperwork. Let’s take a look at visa types and the ways to get them.

Tourist visa

A tourist visa is the most affordable option. Ideal for a short visit, the tourist visa is issued for no longer than 30 days and can only be double-entry at best.

To obtain this visa, you’ll need the following:

  1. A passport that is valid for at least 6 months after the end of the trip. The passport must have at least one blank page.
  2. Two copies of a completed application form with the personal signature of the applicant.
  3. A matte 3.5×4.5 cm photo, signed on the reverse side. Sometimes, two photos are required.
  4. An invitation, which is a tourist voucher with a confirmation. Tour operators can issue them, or they may be attached to the confirmation of your hotel reservation.

Each type of Russian visa requires its own invitation.

The invitation must include the following information about the tourist: Name (as in passport), date of birth, sex, citizenship / nationality, passport number, period of stay, type of visa and invitation, the multiplicity, the purpose of travel, the full path of movement within the Russian Federation. The invitation must also contain the code and reference number of the receiving side and the invitation number. A stamp and a signature of the person in charge are also required.

Business visa

Suitable for members of the various delegations and for contract workers, this visa can be valid from 3 to 12 months. It may be single-entry, double-entry and multiple-entry.

Required documents:

  1. As for any other visa, a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after the end of the trip is required. The passport must have at least one blank page.
  2. Two copies of a completed application form with the personal signature of the applicant.
  3. A matte 3.5 * 4.5 cm photo, signed on the reverse side. Sometimes, two photos are required.
  4. A certificate of HIV-infection test negative results.
  5. An invitation from a company. The company must have a license for hiring or receiving foreign citizens.

Private visa

If your friend or relative from Russia wants to invite you for a visit, he or she must arrange for a special invitation for a private visit. Visa processing time can take from 45 days to 4 months. The period of visa validity will be from 1 to 90 days.

You will need the following documents:

  1. A passport that is valid for at least 6 months after the end of the trip. The passport must have at least one blank page.
  2. Two copies of a completed application form with the personal signature of the applicant.
  3. A notification received from the Territorial Department of a Visa Office.
  4. A certificate of HIV-infection test negative results.
  5. A cover letter must be provided as well. The letter must indicate the purpose of the trip, contain the description of the route within the Russian Federation and include the contact information that the tourist will have in Russia.

Transit visa

This visa is necessary if the way to your final destination point runs through the territory of the Russian Federation. Usually issued for a period up to 72 hours (or, rarely, up to 10 days), this visa requires almost no time or money to be spent.

To get a transit visa, you will need the following documents:

  1. A passport that is valid for at least 6 months after the end of the trip. The passport must have at least one blank page.
  2. Two copies of a completed application form with the personal signature of the applicant.
  3. Copies of plane or train tickets.
  4. A visa to the country of final destination.

Student visa

This visa is necessary if you plan to study in Russia in an academic or a language course.

To get a student visa, you will need the following documents:

  1. A passport that is valid for at least 6 months after the end of the trip. The passport must have at least one blank page.
  2. Two copies of a completed application form with the personal signature of the applicant.
  3. An invitation letter from a Russian educational institution. The visa department of the Ministry of the Interior issues the letter.
  4. Certificate of HIV-infection test negative results.
  5. A copy of a certificate on education.
  6. A proof of payment from a Russian educational institution.

Visa fee

Making any type of visa requires paying a visa fee. The cost varies depending on the citizenship of the applicant. You’ll also pay for the services of a visa center that helps you get your visa.

The visa fee for EU citizens is between 35 and 70 euros, depending on visa type and urgency. The service charge is between 25 and 30 euros.

The visa fee for the citizens of the Great Britain is from 50 to 300 pounds. The service charge is between 30 and 40 pounds.

For US citizens, a visa will cost 130–1500 dollars.

Please note that the visa fee is not refundable.

Visa registration upon arrival in Russia

Once you arrive to Russia, you must register your visa within 7 days upon arrival. The procedure is carried out by the host country.

If you come with a private visa, the person who issued the invitation must register you. If you have a business visa, then the company that invited you will handle the process. If you are an independent tourist, your hotel or hostel will register your visa. If you’re renting a flat for the period of your stay in Russia, please contact a travel agency. The agency will register your visa for 25-35 euros.

Attention!

Do not confuse visa registration with the process of filling out the migration card on the plane. These are two fundamentally different processes.

Do not ignore visa registration. On the way back, you may be required to show the ticket. If the ticket isn’t there, you will be fined and your passport will get a note of visa violation. In the future, this note may bring extra difficulties into the process of getting a Russian visa again.

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