Russian Visa requirements
learn What documents you need
to apply for a visa to russia

Welcome to St Petersburg Essential Guide - Your Best Travel Guide to Russia

Find out what Russian visa requirements are needed to apply for a visa. True, there is a bit of paperwork involved! But don't panic because it isn't as hard as you think to get a visa.

To travel to Russia you'll need to get a visa from the Russian consulate or a private visa center unless your country is part of a signed bilateral agreement with Russia such as for the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States), as well as other states - please see the full list here. Alternatively, you can also visit Russia visa-free if you choose to travel on a cruise ship or ferry line and you meet certain requirements (More on that here).

If you're on this page we suppose you would like to know what Russian visa requirements are needed in order to apply for one. As you may already know there are several types of visas you can choose from, and knowing which visa you need is very important as the application process is different for each type of visa.

Whether you apply for a tourist, business, private, study, or work visa, here we cover all of them. Below you can find explanations of the conditions and requirements of all types of Russian visas, as well as specific information on how to apply for each one of them.

Remember it is a good practice to check carefully all the visa requirements and start collecting all the paperwork needed before applying for your Russian visa. If you make some mistakes when filling out the online form or some documents are missing you'll be asked to return on another day or simply your visa application will be rejected.

russian visa requirements

Below we list what documents should be submitted to the Russian Consulate or Russian Visa Center to get a visa to Russia. To get started just click on the links below or scroll down the page to learn more about each visa.


Are you travelling to Russia for pleasure? Then you need to apply for a tourist visa. See below the Russian visa requirements.

A Russian Tourist Visa is the easiest and cheapest type of visa to get. It is a single entry/exit visa valid for the specified duration of your stay in Russia, up to 30 days. The majority of foreign travelers tend to apply for a tourist visa because most people travel to Russia for pleasure. If you're one of them find out below the Russian visa requirements for getting a tourist visa:

  • Your original passport with at least one blank page (two are better), valid for at least six months after the end of your proposed visit to Russia.

  •  Your online visa application form completed and signed (See the visa application form here).

  •  One recent passport-sized photo signed on the back (two are better).

  •  A tourist confirmation and/or a tourist voucher (also known as the Russian invitation letter or visa support document). You can ask one from the hotel where you will be staying or from your travel agent (Russian or otherwise), or you can also get one from us by visiting this page.
  • Travel insurance if you live in an EU country (except in the UK) or in the USA.

For your information, the Russian visa invitation for tourists consist of two separate documents:

One is a hotel voucher showing your hotel reservation has been paid for (including reservations made with a credit card); the other is a tourist confirmation (stating that you are a guest at that hotel).

You will most likely get these documents as faxed or scanned copies. This is the way are accepted by most Russian Consular Departments, though for some nationalities and some departments, the original hard copy is still required. So, always check with the Consulate or Embassy where you intend to apply for your visa.


Are you travelling to Russia for business? Going to visit an exhibition or sign up a contract? Then, you need to apply for a business visa. See below the Russian visa requirements.

A Business Visa or Commercial Visa is designed for those traveling to Russia on business. This type of visa is far more flexible and much better for an independent business visitor than a tourist visa. It is valid for 90 days, 6 months, or 1 year with single-entry, double-entry, or multiple-entry giving you the right to do business in Russia but not take up full employment.

Below are the Russian visa requirements for getting a business visa:

  • Your original passport with at least one blank page (two are better). Passport must be valid for at least six months after the intended departure date from Russia.
  • Your online visa application form completed and signed.
  • One recent passport-sized photo signed on the back.
  • An official invitation from an organization authorized to invite business visitors to Russia.
  • An introductory letter from you (if self-employed) or your company explaining the purpose and itinerary of your trip.
  • Your bank statements for the last 3 months (if self-employed or unemployed).
  • For a stay exceeding three months, or a multi-entry visa, an HIV test is required.
  • Travel insurance for Russia if you live in an EU country (except in the UK) or in the USA.

When you apply for a business visa you must have an official letter of invitation from a Russian company and a cover letter from your company or organization (or yourself) stating the purpose of your Russian trip.

The letter must contain an official seal and legal address of the agency, signature, and name of official authorized to invite foreigners to Russia. And it can be submitted to the Consulate in original on a stamped form (so-called Yellow page) or by email (so-called Telex).

Please note that the company should be officially registered with the Passport and Visa Department (P.V.U). Within three to four weeks, your business visa should be issued by the (P.V.U) at the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

In the event that you handle this type of visa personally, then make sure to have at least a double-entry or multiple-entry visa on it, and choose an agency that can provide registration of your visa in Russia and help you in exceptional cases. If you need an invitation, but don't have anyone to help you, don't worry. There are lots of agencies in Russia that will issue an invitation for a reasonable fee.

Business invitations to Russia are processed by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Federal Migration Service. In most cases, you will need to present the original hard copy of the invitation to apply for a Russian Business Visa.



Do you have a girlfriend or boyfriend, friends, or relatives in Russia? Do you want to visit them and stay up to 3 months? If so, you need a private visa. See below the Russian visa requirements.

Private Visas (also known as Homestay visas) are designed for those visiting friends or family in Russia, and allow them to stay on Russian soil for up to 3 months. However, as the process is quite long (1.5 months) and very tedious (long queues, a lot of paperwork, and many frustrations), it is normally easier to visit your Russian friends and relatives on a Tourist Visa.

Below are the Russian visa requirements for getting a private visa:

  • A passport with at least two blank pages, valid for at least six months after the end of your proposed visit to Russia.
  • A completed and signed online visa application form.
  • One passport-sized photo signed on the back.
  • An official invitation from the local Immigration Office (UFMS) in Russia (Your Russian host must obtain this certificate for you, and send you the original one).
  • Travel insurance if you live in an EU country (except in the UK) or in the USA.

If you would like to apply for a Russian private visa, you need to call your Russian friends, relatives, or Russian girlfriend or boyfriend and ask them to officially invite you over. And, don't think that your friend or girlfriend or boyfriend will know what to do, because they surely won't.

For him/her or anyone inviting you, it will be probably the first time doing this, so it might be a difficult process to handle. We say that because we did the process ourselves in the past and it wasn't easy! So, if you have to do it ask your friends to check carefully the Russian visa requirements.

Please note that in order to provide you with an official invitation, your Russian host needs to know your full name, address, nationality, passport number, date of birth, and your dates of arrival/departure in Russia.

Remember, your host must be a Russian citizen because to start the process you need an invitation from a Russian citizen. And, the original hard copy of the invitation (Priglashenie) is required.


Are you thinking of studying in Russia? Want to apply for a Russian university? Great choice!  See below the Russian visa requirements.

Student visas are designed for those wanting to study at University (or other educational institutions) in the Russian Federation. This type of visa is issued by an educational institution in which you were enrolled for the study. Russia is not only a place for business and tourism but also a great place for education. In fact, there are a lot of universities offering a wide range of academic programs and opportunities for international students.

 Below are the Russian visa requirements for getting a student visa:

  • International passport (make sure it contains at least 2 pages not completed with visa stamps. It also must be valid for at least 6 months after the date of departure from Russia)
  • Completed visa application form (a 3,5×4,5 cm photo must be pasted into the allocated place. (No corrections and/or erasures are allowed in the form).
  • Invitation from the host organization located in the Russian Federation (original, fax, or electronic copy) or a temporary student ID (school card), issued by the Russian educational institution (in case of a short-term student visa).
  • Health insurance valid for the duration of your stay in Russia (the medical insurance policy should be purchased only from the companies that have an agreement with Russian partners).

The official invitation should be issued by the local department of the Russian Migration police (former FMS) upon the request of Russian accredited schools or companies.

In the event the invitation is issued by the Federal Migration Service, the visa can be granted urgently (within 48 hours). If a foreign student, graduate student, or accompanying teacher requests a visa to the Russian Federation for more than 90 days, then it is necessary to present the original invitation issued by the Federal Migration Service when submitting documents to the Russian Consulate.

Please note that student visas are issued by the Russian Embassy (Consular Department) in your country of residence. In certain countries, there are also authorized visa centers, which provide such services. For more information about how to apply for a Russian student visa Click Here.

Remember that short-stay visas in the presence of a direct invitation are made out in no longer than 7 working days. Also, people who apply for a student visa are not subject to a consular fee.


russian work visa

Are you thinking of working in Russia? Want to work for a Russian employer? If so see below the Russian visa requirements.

Work visas are given to those who want to legally work in the Russian Federation, get paid, and remain on the territory of Russia until the end of its duration. With this type of visa, you can work in Russia for up to 3 years (continuously) and enter the country multiple times. However, you can work only for one company, which must be specified in your visa. If you wish to change the employer, then you'll need to leave the country and apply for a new work visa.

Below are the Russian visa requirements for getting a work visa:

  • A copy of the foreign citizen's passport with a Russian translation certified by a Notary Public.
  • A copy of the diploma, certifying the foreign citizen's qualification (with a Russian translation certified by a Notary Public).
  • Two recent photos size 3×4 cm.
  • A completed and signed online visa application form.
  • Travel insurance if you live in an EU country (except in the UK) or in the USA.

For your information, in order for you to get this type of visa, your employer must submit their company information to the State Employment Service and in due time they also have to apply to the FMS requesting permission to let you come in the country as a foreign worker. You must also receive a work visa invitation that you need to show at the Russian consulate of your country along with all other documents.

Lastly, as a foreign worker, you can also arrange a work visa for a member of your family if you need one. Their visas will have an "accompanying family member" indication under the column labeled "the purpose of the visit".


Are you travelling through Russia to another destination? If so, you may need a Russian transit visa, or no visa at all. See below the Russian visa requirements.

Transit Visas are issued to those travelling through the Russian Federation to a third country. If you have a connecting flight from the same airport or you stay less than 24 hours, and you do not intend to leave the airport transit area, then you don't need to apply for Russian Visa. However, in all other circumstances, you may need to apply for a Russian Transit Visa, even if you need to change airports.

Below are the Russian visa requirements for getting a transit visa:

  • Your original passport with at least one blank page valid for at least six months after the end of your proposed visit to Russia.
  • A completed and signed online visa application form.
  • One passport-sized photo.
  • Your ticket for onward travel.
  • A visa for the country you are travelling to (if necessary).

For your information, the transit visa is usually issued for three days if you're crossing the country or need to change airports. However, if you travel by train and not by plane, the term visa can be longer. For example, if you travel by train from Moscow to Vyborg, you can be given a visa for one day, to Sochi, Novorossijsk – for three days, to Zabajkalsk – for five days, to Nakhodka - for eight days and up to ten days.

Instead, if you travel by car, you will get a visa for the term calculated in the following way: the full distance of your travel will be divided by 500 km. For example, if you need to drive 3000 km, you can get a visa for six days.


migration cards, customs, & registration

After getting a Russian visa there are other minor formalities to go through on arrival of which you should be aware of before you travel to Russia. When you are standing at the immigration border or passport control, the Russians authorities will check the following mandatory travel documents to enter Russia:

  • Your original passport, which must be valid for six months beyond the intended stay.

  • Your tickets and documents for return or onward travel.

  • Your Russian visa attached on your passport.

  • The migration card filled in completely (very important).
  • The customs declaration form (only if needed).

Now let's learn more about the migration card, the customs declaration form, and the registration below.

The Migration Card is an important piece of paper you must fill out before you go through Russian passport control. Nowadays at major airports, this process is handled automatically for you and you will be handed a printed stamped migration card at the immigration border.

However, if you are entering Russia by train or by bus then you will be provided with a migration card by the conductor before you reach the border. Otherwise, you will be able to find migration cards in stands in the waiting halls for passport control at border points.

Remember, you must present your migration card at passport control so it can be stamped and one half can be returned to you. You must keep this card during your entire stay in the country and submit it at passport control when you leave the country.

The Customs Declaration Form is another piece of paper you only need to fill out and present at passport control if you are bringing goods or possessions that are subject to declaration. If you do fill out a customs declaration, then make sure it is stamped by a customs official, and keep it safe until your departure.

Lastly, and very importantly, upon your arrival in the city, you'll need to ask your hotel or the apartment landlord to register your stay in the country. Once you've been registered you will be given The Registration Form, which you should always carry on with you along with your passport when you are out in the street because you may be required to show this document if stopped by the police during your stay (to confirm that you are legitimately registered), so don't lose it.


Our Tips & Recommendations

On this page, we highlighted what are the Russian visa requirements to enter Russia. Now we want to share with you some tips. The first thing we recommend is when receiving your Russian visa you should check the details carefully including the validity dates and passport number to make sure they are correct. Make sure you’re aware of the Russian visa requirements and conditions attached to your visa before you travel.

  • Most travellers get a tourist visa, because it allows them to stay in Russia for up to thirty days. However, if you need to stay longer or travel to Russia several times, then getting a business visa may be a better choice because you can have multiple entries. However, if you are just coming to Russia for a few days, then it will make more sense to apply for a tourist visa (up to 30 days) or for the new e-Visa (up to 8 days).
  • When you choose the type of visa, you should evaluate carefully the price of the visa, its speed of processing, the period of stay, and the number of entries the visa allows, including of course their Russian visa requirements.
  • Keep in mind that to start your Russian visa application you should know by now that you need an invitation (also called visa support document) issued from a third party company. However, we advise you to give only the original invitation to the Russian consulate when applying for business or private visas. This way you will avoid any possible rejection.
  • If you wish to apply for your Russian visa through a visa center in your country check out this website. If you're looking for a Russian consulate in your country instead, click here.
  • Remember, even if Russia has visa-free arrangements with many countries, the duration of a visa-free stay is limited to 1 or 3 months, as such arrangements are designed for tourists, not long-term visitors.
  • Be aware that overstaying your visa may result in fines, court hearings, deportation, and a possible ban from re-entry.
  • If you apply for a Russian tourist visa keep in mind that this visa lets you stay in the country for up to thirty days, with just one entry that cannot be extended while in Russia. Also, remember that you can get a visa for Russia only in the country of your citizenship, except if you hold a residence permit for another foreign country for a period of more than ninety days.
  • If you would like to apply for a work visa we recommend to come to Russia on a tourist visa for 30 days or apply for a business visa for 90 days so that you can find an employer in Russia.
  • Don't forget to register your visa within seven days upon arrival, excluding holidays and weekends. Russian law says that it is the responsibility of the accommodating party to register your visa once you arrive; so your hotel, hostel, or friend should take care of this, but to be sure they will (sometimes they don't) always ask.
  • When you apply for a transit visa remember to present either the original copy or photocopies of your air, rail, or bus tickets showing that you will not be in the Russian Federation for longer than the times stipulated by your local Consulate or Embassy.
  • Please note that you must sign an immigration card every time you arrive in Russia. This will be given to you at passport control. The card is in two identical parts. One part will be retained by the Immigration Officer. The other part will be given to you. Keep this card safe as your departure from Russia could be delayed if you lose it. Also, hotels, hostels, or another receiving entity will not accept guests without an immigration card.
  • If you're travelling on a cruise ship or ferry line visa-free to Russia, remember that your tour guide must provide you with tour vouchers prior to your visit. This is a document (aka blanket visa), that replaces the tourist visa for a short stay only (72 hours max), stating that an authorized tour operator is waiting for you outside the passport control area. You show this ticket along with your passport to the passport control officer and you are free to go. For your information, we can provide you these tour vouchers if you need. Just ask!
Davide & Anastasia founders of St Petersburg Essential Guide Travel Website

Hello! We are Davide & Anastasia the founders of

We would like to let you know that apart from writing unique content for our travel website we can also help with the arrangement of your Airport Transfer, Private City Tour, and Russian Visa Support, or anything else you may need during your stay or the planning of your trip to St Petersburg Russia. Just get in touch with us today for more info!


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