How to get a Russian Visa without going crazy

Posted on May 6, 2014 by in Cheap flights

With a European Union or US passport most countries make it easy for you to clear immigration. Many countries require no visa or give you a VOA (visa-on-arrival). Things are different for Russia, China and India.

I applied for a Chinese visa recently and was impressed with the SF consulate – the whole process was done in minutes and my passport was ready in just 3 business days and that's without paying an expedite fee.

Russian visas are handled not by the consulate but by Invisa Logistic Services USA – an American company – so my expectations were a bit higher.

The online application is long and treacherous but not much different than what you need for other visas. Reserve 30 minutes for it to be on the safe side.

It's easy to miss but you need a current photograph of yourself for the application.

Next up is the visa voucher that needs to be issued by an organization in Russia. This in effect is your hotel. I emailed the Hotel Ukraina – the best Radisson in Moscow – and they had no trouble doing it within one day. They do require your credit card and original signature, though. Should you cancel your reservation they require a payment of $80.

Appointments were available at short notice at Invisa in San Francisco. I made the appointment on Thursday for Monday afternoon.

By Monday I was on my way to the Russian consulate as for some reason I was under the impression that this is where the visas are issued. Invisa has its own office downtown though – oops! I missed my appointment time by 5 minutes and was placed in the lower priority queue as the agent made it clear that missing an appointment even by 5 minutes means you lose your spot in line. To my surprise the office was bustling with agents for the visa agencies who each had 10-30 applications at one time. None of them had an appointment.

After a 20 minute wait the process was fairly quick. However, there was a change required on my application (the 'host organization' was my hotel – I did not know that when filling out the form online). The agent will easily change it for you – for a hefty $25 fee!!

In total it cost me $198 including processing fees – easily the most I have ever spent on a visa. I hope Moscow will make up for it though 🙂

In sum it's rather easy to get the Russian visa and while the agents are grumpy the process isn't much worse than other countries. If you live close to a consulate you should try it yourself.

If you like this post – subscribe via email or follow us on Twitter.

About the author: Torsten is a serial entrepreneur who started almost a dozen ventures on four continents. Torsten's love for travel has brought him to 130+ countries and travel with most of the world's airlines. You can reach Torsten at [email protected]

This post has been tagged with:
| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |

Don't miss - more topics from Mighty Travels

AAdvantage | Aegean Airlines | Aeromexico | Aeroplan | Air Canada | Air China | Air France | Air France/KLM Flying Blue | Air India | Air New Zealand | AirAsia | AirBnB | Airline Reviews | Alaska Airlines | Alaska Mileage Plan | Alitalia | American Airlines | American Express | American Express Membership Rewards | ANA | Asiana Airlines | Avis | Award Booking | Best coffee | Best Rate Guarantee | Best Western | British Airways (BA) | Cash Back Deals | Cathay Pacific Reviews | Chase Sapphire Reserve | Chase Ultimate Rewards | Cheap flights | Cheap Passport Photos | Cheap Visas | China Airlines Review | Choice Hotels | Choice Privileges | Citibank | Club Carlson / Radisson | Credit Card Deals | Delta Airlines | Delta Skymiles | Destinations & Inspiration | Emirates Reviews & Skywards | Error Fares / Mistake Fares | Etihad Reviews & Etihad Guest | Fare Monitoring Service | Frequent Flyer Programs | Getaround | Hainan Airlines | Hawaiian Airlines | HHonors | Hilton Honors | Hilton Hotels | Hotel Deals | Hotel Friends & Family Discounts | Hotel Loyalty Programs | Hotel Reviews | Hyatt | IHG Rewards Club | Immigration & Airport Security | Immunization | Japan Airlines | Jetblue TrueBlue | Krisflyer | Lifemiles | Lounge Reviews | Low Cost Airlines | Lufthansa Miles and More | Malaysia Airlines | Marriott Hotels | Mighty Travels Premium | Mistake Fares | Orbitz Coupons & Deals | Priority Pass Lounges | Qatar Airways | Radisson Rewards | Saudia | Singapore Airlines | Southwest Rapid Rewards | Sri Lankan | StarHOT | StarwoodONE | ThankYou Points | Things to Do (City Guides) | TOP Travel Destinations | Travel Agent Rate | Travel Deals | Travel Insurance | Travel News | Travel Tech | Turkish Airlines Review | Uber | United Airlines | United Mileage Plus | World of Hyatt | Wyndham Hotels | Wyndham Rewards |