Russian Visa

How to get a Russian Visa

Getting a visa for Russia is going to be one of the major pain points while preparing for your journey to Russia. The process of getting a visa is cumbersome and there’s a lot of red tape to get through. However, the recent surge in tourism has created trails for everyone to follow and that has certainly removed the guess work from the process.  As an Indian passport holder I had to go through a slightly more gruelling visa application process. All the documents submitted for the visa have to be original and it’s compulsory to show reservation of accommodation. I did eventually get the visa after some struggle, but I am certain that the process can be made much easier and less expensive.

Russia-visa
Image Source: visahq.com

There are three main stages of your visa application: Invitation, Application, and Visa Approval

NOTE: Start preparations for your Russian visa at least 1 month prior to your departure.

Invitation:

Entering the Russian Federation requires an invitation from a hosting agency. These are government approved agencies that issue invitations to visitors. This form contains details of the type of visa, duration of stay, places you plan to visit during your stay and your hotel/hostel reservation details.

The invitation typically costs $40 – $350 depending on the type of visa (single entry/multiple entry/tourism/business) you need. Some hotels/hostels offer this service free of charge or at a nominal fee.

Indian passport holders need to order an original copy of the invitation. This will mean extra postal charges for the applicant. Yes. It sucks!

Application:

If you’ve gotten this far, you are 70% through. Don’t give up now. Head over to the Russian embassy in your city and submit your application. They usual take 3-6 days to process your application.

Visa Approval:

Once you have the visa sticker on your passport you are set and good to go. Only in rare cases, your application may be declined. I personally haven’t heard of anyone’s application being rejected if they have provided all the correct documents in the correct form.

Is that it? NOPE. Once you’re there you have to tackle something called the Migration Card!

How the Migration Card works:

All foreigners are supposed to register themselves at the local immigration office on arrival. If you are staying in a hotel/hostel for more than one night, they will do this for you either free of cost or for a nominal fee. You better keep this little slip of paper with you as the border authority at the airport may want to check it when you leave Russia.

Now that you’ve read all of this, you’re good to go.

Here are some resources to know more about the Russian Visa:

Visa Requirements for Indian Citizens
http://www.russiaconsulmumbai.mid.ru/visa_01.html

Visa Requirement For U.S Citizens
http://russia.travisa.com/

Russia Tourism Centric Website

Express to Russia (www.expresstorussia.com)

Russian Business Visa (www.russian-business-visa.com)

Russia Direct (www.russiadirect.co.uk)

Visa Able (www.visaable.com)

Way to Russia (waytorussia.net)

Still haven’t got what you want? Leave your query in the comments and I’ll get back to you!

 

 

Kazan Russia

Kazan – The Third Capital of Russia

I had the fortune of travelling to Kazan.  It’s been branded at Russia’s 3rd capital and also as the sporting capital of the nation. The city is famous for the peaceful co-existence of Muslim and Christian population. I for one really wanted to see what that was about and explore the serene streets of city.

Kazan is the city of Tatars, but it’s filled with people from all over Russia. Every woman is drop dead gorgeous and the men look sharp.

Getting In

Kazan is about 800 km from Moscow and can be reached by an overnight train, a series of buses or flights. I had taken the overnight train and it was probably the best decision I made. You really get to see the expanse of Russia with literally endless fields.

Alternatively you can also get in via flight from Moscow. These usually cost between $100- $120 and reduce travel time to an hour.

Places to see

Bauman Street

Chai Dom Kazan

This is Kazan’s very own walking street in the heart of the city. It plays host to some of the most best food spots, tourist merchandise and boutiques. Don’t forget to visit ‘Chai Doma’ on Bauman Street. It’s the best place to have authentic Tatar food.

Kremlin

Horse Carriage

The Kremlin is a vast piece of land on top of a hill, looking below at the Kazanka river.  The walls  are whitewashed with tombs of blue and gold. Most of the constructions inside the Kremlin were built out of wood. You’ve got to take a walk around the Kremlin! If you’re in the mood to splurge, you could also hire a horse drawn carriage for a tour around the Kremlin.

Söyembikä Tower

soyembika tower

Within the Kazan Kremlin you will find the Söyembikä Tower. Also known as the Khan’s Tomb, this monument was built in the 16th century.  It is said that this tower was built by Ivan the Terrible’s artisans in just over a week!  The site of the offers a stunning view of the Kazanka river and city’s skyline.

Kul- Sharif

Kul Sharif

The Kul Sharif is by far the most amazing mosque I have seen in my entire life! Its white walls and blue tops create a stunning image from any angle. This monument can be called as the definitive icon of Kazan.  A trip to Kazan would be incomplete without a trip to Kazan.

Kazan University

Kazan Federal University

Kazan is an important centre of education in Russia. It is home to the Kazan Federal University a premier institute of education in the Volga region of Russia.  The university has a lot of diversity in the field of studies it offers to students. There is a significant population of foreign students at the Kazan Federal University.

Kazan is really off the tourist map and so it makes it even more special. The city has a unique culture and cuisine that cannot be missed. You are sure to have a unique experience of Russia if you visit Kazan. I’d go further to say that it may even change the perception you have about all Russian! 😉

Moscow Russia

WTF, I’m in Moscow

What the F*@#k ! I am in Moscow.  These were my words when I slowly walked up and entered into the Red Square.  There are some moments in life when you just want to take in all that your senses are telling you. This was one of those moments for me.

Russia is the first foreign country I visited and just for that it will always have a special place in my heart. As I made my way to a clear view of the Red Square, I was left in awe. The St. Basil’s Cathedral in front of me, the G.U.M market to the left and Putin’s lovely home to the right, the Kremlin. I sucked up some air and walked slowly on the cobbled road, mesmerised. This was the centre of the former USSR. Wow.

Moscow is gorgeous, huge and a bustling city. I fell in love it completely. The Moscow metro network drove me nuts, the architecture left me with a gaping mouth and of course, the sports car and bikes made me believe that Moscow was the best place in this world. This would be the place where people work hard, earn money and spend it on a life style that’s grand.

Of course, there other sides to Moscow but I was lucky enough to have been completely ignorant about them.  If you happen to visit here are the five places CANNOT miss in Moscow.

Red Square & Kremlin

Red Square Moscow Russia
This is the centre piece of Russia. You simply cannot afford to miss this one if you are in Moscow. It’s something like going to Agra and not seeing the Taj Mahal. It’s a great place to take in the fact that you have arrived in Russia and also the place where you can come at close range to the burial grounds of the former USSR Presidents. This place is sure to move you.

Bolshoi Theatre
Opened to public in 1825, the marvellous building has some of the plushest interiors you can ever see. The grand balconies give you the ultimate theatre feel. While backpacking on a budget, I highly recommend saving up for this experience.

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour
Cathedral of Christ the Saviour Moscow Russia

When I entered this Cathedral, I was spelled bound by the detailed frescos and the dome. The environment is surreal and the devotion worth admiring. I spent a lot f time just walking around watching pious Orthodox Christians placing candle in front of pictures of Virgin Mary. It was a moving experience!

Gorky Park
Does ‘Winds of Change’ by the Scorpions strike a chord? Yup, they were talking about this very park. It’s an interesting space in the city and I’d say you could afford to visit this place as it’s very cheap.

Pushkin Museum
Designed by Roman Klein and Vladimir Shukhov and financed primarily by Yury Nechaev-Maltsov this museum doesn’t have any direct co-relation with Alexander Pushkin the Russian Author. Opened to public in 1912, the museum houses some of the best fine art collections in Russia.

I really enjoyed Moscow but, my journey didn’t end there. I was going to Kazan next.