If you are planning a dream trip to fascinating Russia, know that entry to Soviet soil is not as obvious as it might be in other European territories. To enter Russia, in fact, it is necessary to present a series of documents that certify the reasons for your stay in the land that gave birth to director Sergej Michajlovič Ėjzenštejn and former tennis player Anna Kurnikova.
It is a quite complex bureaucratic procedure, in which there may be delays or problems in the validity of the documents to be presented but from which, however, it is possible to extricate oneself by playing cunning and anticipation.
- Timing: how long to request it and how long it takes to get it
- Where to request it: consulates or agencies?
- Required documents
- User questions and comments
Timing: how long to request it and how long it takes to get it
Il entry visa for Russia it is nothing more than a document that authorizes the foreign visitor to be able to move freely on Soviet soil. Request it in advance is the secret to avoiding the risk of having to postpone or cancel a hypothetical vacation in Moscow or St. Petersburg. The advice is to start the procedure for applying for a visa at least 30 days before departure (or even 5 to 6 weeks before the scheduled departure: better to play well in advance).
I delivery time of the document by the Consulate or agencies in charge generally hover around 10 days from the presentation of the documentation; however, complications can occur that can lengthen the release times.
Where to request it: consulates or agencies?
It is possible to apply for an entry visa directly at the Russian Consulates in Italy, or by using agencies (private or authorized by the Consulates themselves). Let's break down the pros and cons of both options.
Option 1: Consulates
There are four Consulates of the Russian Federation on Italian soil - located in Rome, Genoa, Milan and Palermo - to which one can contact to obtain a visa for entry into Soviet territory.
- Pro: the costs of obtaining a visa are significantly reduced. It takes € 35,00 to apply for a normal visa and € 70,00 for an urgent application, at no additional cost.
- Cons: you need to make an appointment, hoping not to get it too long; you have to show up with all the documentation, or the risk is to be sent home and to have to request another appointment; not all consulates make appointments for obtaining a visa.
Option 2: Agencies
Currently, the agency officially authorized by the Consulates to issue the visa for residence on Russian soil is only one: the Visa Center for Russia, organization managed by the private company Visa Handling Services Srl
On the web, however, it will be possible to come across other agencies, which offer the same service at sometimes exorbitant figures.
- Pro: The request can be made both in person and remotely, via the website; office hours are flexible and very extended (the center is closed only on Saturday and Sunday); the times for obtaining an appointment at the center are significantly halved compared to the Consulate; additional services are available (for a fee), such as filling out a form or photocopying service.
- Cons: The costs rise considerably (the above-mentioned prices for obtaining the visa must be added € 30,00 of additional management cost, plus the ancillary costs of any additional services).
I mandatory documents in order to obtain the issuance of the residence visa in Russia are the following:
- Visa application form, filled in electronically, printed and accompanied by a passport photo;
- Passport with at least 6 months of validity beyond the expected end of the trip and two free pages;
- Invitation letter o Visa Support: this is a confirmation letter of welcome from the tourist, issued by the hotel where you will be staying, by the institution that will host you, by a relative or by the university where you will study. You can get it online;
- Health care insurance, stipulated with an Italian or Russian company recognized by the Consulate (insurance can also be requested at the Visa Center, upon payment of a higher amount);
- Form filled out on the website of the Consular Department of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, printed and brought on the day of the request. It is necessary that the dates shown in this document and on the invitation letter coincide perfectly;
- 2 copies of the visa questionnaire for Russia, completed and signed.
For independent travel (without tour operator):
If the planned trip should be undertaken without the help of a tour operator, the tourist must attach, in addition to the aforementioned documentation, confirmation of the hotel reservation (with arrival and departure dates reported), the reference number (i.e. alphanumeric code consisting of six characters, shown on the electronic ticket at the time of online booking of any airline ticket and more) and the number of the visa confirmation.
For trips over 15 days
Tourist visas issued for a stay in Russia are generally valid for 30 days. However, at the time of submitting the visa application, if the trip lasts more than two weeks, it is mandatory to bring with you the receipts attesting hotel reservation has been made (or hotels, in case there were more than one).
For the Trans-Siberian
Cross and "leave" Russia aboard the legendary Trans-Siberian (the railway line that connects the Russian nation with Asia) requires the possession of precise documentation:
- the aforementioned documents;
- hotel booking receipts (with precise dates of entry and exit from the country and coinciding with those of the visa);
- your credit card statements;
- proof of payment for hotels and the Trans-Siberian ticket.
In addition to being quite complicated, the procedure for issuing a visa to reach Russia obviously has its cost.
- Normal visa: costs € 35,00, while an urgent one costs € 70,00; in case of recourse to the agency, € 30,00 management costs must be added;
- Visa Support o letter of invitation: it should be provided free of charge, but it is customary to ask for around € 15,00 to obtain it;
- Compulsory health insurance: costs are around € 19,00.
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