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Für eine Reise nach Russland wird ein Visum benötigt, Bild: GagoDesign / shutterstock

How to apply for a tourist visa for Russia

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Germans, and other citizens of the EU, can easily enter many countries around the world with an identity card. For other countries, on the other hand, a special travel document is required for entry, a passport. In addition, there are countries that require a valid visa to enter the country. From the point of view of German citizens, this includes, for example, Russia. Here you can find out what special features are associated with a holiday in Russia, what preparations need to be made so that entry is successful and what else there is to consider.

Who needs an entry visa for Russia?

In principle, anyone planning a trip to Russia should inform themselves about the currently valid entry requirements. Ultimately, it depends on the nationality of the person wishing to enter the country whether he or she needs an entry visa or not. For Germans, an entry visa is mandatory for all types of travel to Russia. This means that both people who are going on a holiday trip and people who are going on a business trip to Russia must apply for a visa in advance. And even those who visit Russia only for transit, for example to change planes at a Russian airport, need an entry visa, which in this case is called a transit visa.

What is the difference between each type of tourist visa?

If you are planning a trip to Russia, you should think carefully in advance about how you want to organize this trip. The most common Russia visa for a trip to Russia is the tourist visa. A tourist visa can be applied for with a maximum validity of 30 days or a maximum of 90 days. However, there are even more differentiation options within these two tourist visas. These differences all relate to the number of possible entries to Russia within the selected visa period. For example, with a tourist visa valid for 30 days, it is possible to choose two options. Single or double entry into Russia. The tourist visa, which allows visitors to stay in Russia for 90 days, offers even more variations. Tourists can request a single, a double or multiple entry when applying for a visa. In addition, the 90-day validity period does not have to be exercised in one go.

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There is also the alternative of being allowed to stay in Russia for a total of 90 days within six months. Of course, this means that the country must be left in the meantime in order not to exceed the maximum period of validity. Such a tourist visa is suitable for travelers who are planning a trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway and want to travel to China for a longer period of time. If you want to return by train, this visa is well suited.

What do you need to apply for a tourist visa?

Moscow, St. Basil's Cathedral
The Red Square with St. Basil’s Cathedral, Image: TTstudio / shutterstock

First of all, the visa application itself is required. There is an officially valid form for this purpose, which must be filled out correctly. In addition, you need a passport photo that has the format 3.5 by 4.5 centimeters. Also, applicants must provide proof of a valid health insurance policy that covers claims in Russia. In addition, the purpose of the trip must be explained. This is done in the form of an invitation letter. The application must also make it clear that the applicant will leave Russia at the latest after the visa period has expired. And finally, a valid passport that is valid for at least six months must be presented.

What is the invitation letter all about?

The invitation letter could be considered the centerpiece of the Russian visa application. It must state the period during which the applicant wishes to stay in Russia. This information must be very specific. Furthermore, a residence address in Russia must be listed. The purpose of the trip is also indicated here. If you travel to Russia as a tourist, you can receive such invitation letters, for example, through the hotel you have booked. Furthermore, there are some visa agencies, also in German-speaking countries, that support tourists in applying for tourist visas for Russia. If you want to enter Russia as an individual traveler, you should consider whether you want to take advantage of such an option. Because these agencies also take care of an invitation letter, which, by the way, must always be written in Russian.

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What other advantages do visa agencies offer?

Visa agencies can handle the entire application process on behalf of the applicant. You fill out the application form, get the invitation letter, inform you about what other documents are required and collect them until they are complete. Then they submit the documents to the competent authority. This process usually takes between two and four weeks.

How and where can you apply for a tourist visa for Russia yourself?

Entry visas for Russia can also be applied for independently, e.g. at Paneurasia or by private individuals. This is possible at Russian embassies and consulates. If you decide to take this route, you should check the homepages of the respective embassies or consulates in advance to find out exactly which documents have to be submitted. Forms are also available for download here. To apply for a visa, you have to visit the consulate or embassy in person and submit all the documents there already prepared. Advising applicants is not one of the tasks of these institutions. The passport must be handed in to the respective office as part of the visa application. You get it back when the visa has been approved.