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!

 

 

Russia

How I Got into Russia

Russia has been in the news lately for Ukraine and the Sochi Olympics. This mysterious country has always been on my travel bucket list. I’ve heard the western stories about oppressive lives that people in Russia lead and I’ve heard about stories of Russian magnanimity during India’s wars with Pakistan.

I’ve read George Orwell’s 1984 and while it made for a dramatic read I wasn’t completely sold.  I was more inclined to believe in the stories I heard from my family.  I was very keen on seeing the country myself and when I got a chance, I grabbed it both hands.

Heading towards Moscow

The Visa

I was told that getting a Tourist visa for Russia involved a lot of red tape and hardship. I checked out the Russian embassy’s website and figured out all the things I needed. Surprisingly it wasn’t too long, albeit I had to incur some unnecessary expenses. As an Indian passport holder I was required to submit a copy of return flight tickets, hostel reservations and an official ‘Invite’ from an approved tourism company in Russia.

As per the laws, I had to call for ‘Invite Card’ from Russia and submit the original copy along with my application.  This cost me an extra Rs.5000, which really pinched my wallet.

The rest was as easy as a breeze.  Three days later I had my Russian Tourist visa in my hands!

The flight & food

Aeroflot In-flight food

I had chosen to board from the New Delhi airport partly so that I could spend a few hours in Delhi to catch up with some friends and partly because I wanted to see the world class T3 Delhi terminal. It was totally worth it.

I was on an Aeroflot flight and I must say that as the national carrier of Russia, I was disappointed to know that they didn’t serve alcohol on board. I was expecting a river of vodka flowing in the aisle and all I would have to do is dip my glass and get some delicious Vodka.  Oh I hate when bubbles burst.

I was given my subscribed Veg. Meal and I did in fact enjoy it. Well, what a let down, I can’t complain about the airline food. All in all, it was a comfortable 6 hours on my way to Moscow.

Landing at Sheremetyevo International Airport

On landing at Sheremetyevo airport, I was a bit lost. Here I am in Russia, at an international airport, BUT there’s hardly anyone around. I was a bit scared as I was so used to having mobs of people around me. I was in a bit of a shock.

The gorgeous smiles of the Russian air hostesses passing by were helpful in easing my nerves! The Russian journey had begun well 😉

Tips for travel in Russia

TC Original: Tips for Travel in Russia

Russia is huge and I mean massively huge. It’s half of Europe going all the way to Alaska in North America. I recently travelled to Russia visiting the cities of Moscow & Kazan. Both these cities are beautiful and have their own unique charm. It’s got the European charm that everybody loves and at the same time it has something unique that sets it apart from rest of Europe.  Elements of the ‘Mysterious Russian Soul’ are there in the air and you can feel it when you interact with the people.  Below are some tips which I gathered from my trip.

Visa & visa registration:
Now the Russian tourist visa has a bit of red tape, at least in India. You can get a tourist visa of 30 days maximum and you ought to have proof of hotel reservations for your duration of stay. You need to have an official ‘Invite’ from a tourist agency. They usually charge you anything between 20$ – 30$ for the ‘Invitation’ and a little more if the Russian embassy in your city requires a hard copy.
Once you’re in Russia, ensure that you register your visa with the local post office or immigration office. If you stay in a hotel/hostel, they will do it for you as it’s their lawful obligation.

Internal Travel:
Internal travel in Russia is as modern as it gets. The preferred mode of transport between major cities is by train. Long haul journeys can be fun. It’s recommend trying the Trans- Siberian line. Moscow to Vladivostok is an interesting journey you can try! It would surely be value for money.  In Moscow the metro is great for internal transportation. Places which are further away from metro stations are easily connected with buses.  Kazan on the other hand is much smaller. I’d surely recommend visiting the stunning new Metro Stations.
Kazan Metro

(Kazan Metro)

People & Culture:

Hollywood movies have demonised the Russian and created a negative image of Russians all around the world. Well, the fact is that they are as human as anybody else. The women are drop dead gorgeous and the men are thorough gentlemen (most of them at least).  The culture of Russia is welcoming. There is a huge diversity with people having different ethnicities like Marie, Chuvash, Slavic, Tatar and many more. It’s amazing to see how the communist rule unified all these different ethnicities under one banner. People is Russia love to have a good time, enjoy life  and after all that is done, work hard. Every town in Russia will have a ‘Banya’ a community pool and you are sure to find a ‘Piva’ (Beer) Store next to it.  It’s not advisable to visit them, but if you’re adventurous by all means go for it.

Language:
The official language is Russian, however there a many dialects and sub-languages within the country. Almost like India, the language changes after every 30-50 kms.  Russian is easy to gather and understand if you are attentive.  You can try learning some of these words:

Pri-ve-yt – Hello
Zd-rast-we-tya – Formall Hello
Da – Yes
Neyt – No

Baton – Bread
Vada – Water
Kuri-tsa – Chicken
Spa-ci-bo – Thank you
Bye – Pokah

Money:

The Russians use the Rouble as their currency. Thankfully it trades at 2 INR to 1 RU.  Things are generally expensive in Russia. Sadly the simple jobs don’t pay so well but all the prices are of European standard.  If you eat simple and local you can easily survive in 400 roubles a day for food.

Did you find this helpful? Do leave your comments below, I’d love to chat up!