Most nationalities require a Russian tourist visa to visit Russia. Unfortunately, the process isn’t as straightforward as it should be. 

Russia is a seriously underrated tourist destination, and getting a tourist visa is relatively easy. Still, it is difficult to find all the information you need to get one. Almost always, you will find guides written by Russians in less than perfect English. 

This article will provide you with all the information needed to apply for a Russian tourist visa. 

Are you looking for a different Russian visa? Check out our comprehensive guide to Russian visas. You can find information there on each type of Russian visa.

Who needs a Russian tourist visa? 

As mentioned above, most people need a visa to visit Russia as a tourist. Only the citizens of the following countries do NOT need a Russian visa to visit Russia for tourism. 

  • Argentina 
  • Armenia 
  • Azerbaijan 
  • Belarus 
  • Bolivia 
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina 
  • Brazil 
  • Brunei 
  • Chile 
  • Colombia 
  • Cuba 
  • Croatia 
  • Hong Kong 
  • Israel 
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Macedonia 
  • Moldova
  • Montenegro 
  • Mozambique 
  • Nicaragua 
  • Peru 
  • Panama 
  • Paraguay 
  • Serbia 
  • The Republic of South Africa 
  • Thailand 
  • Tajikistan
  • Ukraine
  • Uruguay 
  • Uzbekistan
  • Venezuela

If your country isn’t listed, you need a tourist visa to visit Russia. Let’s look at the requirements to get a tourist visa.

What documents do I need for a Russian tourist visa? 

To apply for a tourist visa to Russia, you will need the following documents: 

  • a tourist invitation (any Russian tourist agency can provide this) 
  • a passport photo 3.5cm x 4.5cm (“2×2” in the US)
  • a signed Russian visa application form 
  • your passport
  • Russian visa fee

Fortunately, the documents required for a tourist visa are mostly the same for every nationality. The Russian consulate sometimes requires travel insurance or a departure ticket from Russia. It isn’t likely that the consulate will ask for insurance or a return ticket unless you are from a developing country.

What is a Russian tourist invitation? 

A tourist invitation is a document issued by a Russian tourist agency officially registered with the Russian tourism department. A tourist invitation is required if you are applying for a Russian tourist visa. 

Here is what one looks like.

Many companies offer fake tourist invitations. The best option for legitimate tourist invitations at reasonable prices is iVisa. iVisa is a highly reputable company and provides visa services to many countries. You will usually get the tourist visa invitation in minutes, and you simply need to print it out. 

If you have questions about the process to get a Russian tourist visa through iVisa, we created a detailed step-by-step walkthrough, so you get it right.  

How long is a Russian tourist visa valid? 

Russian tourist visas are only valid for tourism purposes. Most nationalities may apply for a tourist visa valid for a maximum of 30 days. They are either single or double entry tourist visas, and you can enter Russia only once or twice. You may choose the number of entries when you apply.

The only exception is US citizens who may apply for Russian tourist visas valid for three years with a maximum stay of 6 months each time you enter. Tourist visas for Americans are valid for multiple entries, which means you can enter Russia as many times as you like. 

How much does a Russian tourist visa cost?

There are a few fees that make up the “cost” of a Russian tourist visa. 

The cost of a Russian tourist visa is almost always equal to the price that your country charges Russian citizens applying for a tourist visa. 

For example, US citizens’ official consulate fee for a Russian tourist visa is $160. The US charges Russian citizens the same price for a US tourist visa. 

The cost for most European nationalities to apply for a Russian tourist visa is €50 if done in your home country.

We don’t have a list of the prices for every nationality, but you can check on your country’s Russian consulate website.

Sometimes, the price for a tourist visa can vary by consulate. If you are applying outside of your home country, you will need to ask at the consulate. 

How do I fill out the Russian tourist visa application? 

Once you have your passport, the tourist visa invitation, and your passport photo, it is time to fill out the Russian visa application form. You must do this electronically on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation website. You must fill out the application completely and sign it. Do not forget to sign the application.

We also prepared a guide walking you through every step of the application, which is part of our massive guide to Russian visas.

It is pretty straightforward, but be sure to fill it out completely.  

How do I apply for a Russian tourist visa? 

There are two ways to apply for a Russian tourist visa once you have the documents. You can either use an agency or go to the consulate yourself. Unless you live in a city where there is a Russian consulate, your only real option is to use an agency. 

Even if you live in a city with a Russian consulate, you should still work with an agency based on our experience. We have applied in person on numerous occasions. While they are friendly enough, it can be nearly impossible to get an appointment. Consulate workers also do not speak English well (or at all). The $129 fee VisaHQ takes to process your Russian visa application is money well spent. The Russian consulate will test your nerves, and you must make at least two trips.

If you speak Russian and have applied for visas before, you should be fine. For more information, check out our detailed walkthrough for applying at a Russian consulate in the US

Using an agency is stress-free. While there is a cost associated with it, you will save a considerable amount of time, energy, and nerves.

 VisaHQ is our provider of choice for Russian tourist visas in the US, and you can’t go wrong with them. Their prices are competitive, and they have considerable experience helping people get tourist visas. You can find all the information on their website, but you can reach out to us on our contact page if you have questions. 

Can you apply for a Russian visa outside of your home country?

Generally, it is difficult to apply for a Russian tourist visa outside of your home country. Further complicating matters, many Russian consulates don’t have strict rules. Citizens of certain countries must apply for a Russian tourist visa in their home country. Canadian and UK citizens are examples that must apply in their home country. 

For example, Canada and the UK require Russians to apply for visas in their home country. The only exception is if you are a permanent resident in the country where you are applying. 

US citizens can usually apply for a Russian visa outside of their home country in any Russian consulate because the US allows Russians to do the same. 

Conclusion

As you can see, the process for applying for a Russian tourist visa is not nearly as complicated as it might seem when searching for information. You just need to collect the required documents and send them to VisaHQ. Do not let the infamous Russian bureaucracy be a barrier to experiencing Russia! 

Once you have booked your trip and applied for your Russian tourist visa, it is time to start planning your trip! Here are a few resources that will help ensure you have a fantastic time in Russia. 

I lived in Russia for 5 years. Over those 5 years, I started a few companies, worked as an English teacher, worked at a large Russian tech company, and worked at an international law firm. I want to share my experience living and working abroad so you can do the same!

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