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What types of visa are available for Russia?
There are two main categories of Russian visa for UK citizens: tourist visa and business visa. They also offer the ability to apply for single, double or multiple entry visas to enable you to plan several trips within a certain time frame whilst only having to complete one application. In certain circumstances, you can enter Russia without a visa altogether, which we will discuss later in this post.
Business visas are issued to those that are travelling to Russia for purposes such as attending meetings, conducting audits and attending conferences. You cannot be paid by a Russian company if you are visiting on a business visa. If you are being paid by a Russian company for the work you will carry out there, you will need to enquire about a work permit. The Business visa can be issued a single, double or multiple entry visa.
Certain activities can be conducted on a tourist visa, such as participating in short negotiations, exhibitions, auctions, medical consultations or surveys. In such cases, the confirmation of admission of a foreign tourist must indicate the purpose of visit as “AIM-TOURISM” or “ЦЕЛЕВОЙ ТУРИЗМ”. If you are going to be conducting business outside of these guidelines, including signing contracts or trade agreements, you will require a business visa.
Tourist visas are issued to those that are travelling to Russia for a holiday or visiting friends and family. They can be issued as single or double entry, however the type of entry will be granted based on what is written in the invitation letter or Tourist Voucher.
The visa will be issued for as many days that is stated in the invitation or tourist voucher, but the length of stay will not exceed 30 days. This is the case for both single and double entry tourist visas.
You will require a tourist visa and an invitation letter as a tourist in order to obtain your visa so it is important you organise your trip and have documents to support your inventory. The cities and areas you are spending the most time in must be listed on your application, as well as where you are staying, but if you are making short visits to several places in one outing you will not be required to provide every destination.
Can I visit more than once with the same visa?
You won’t be able to enter earlier than your planned travel date or overstay your visa but you always can enter the country later than your start date, or leave Russia earlier than originally planned if required. You cannot however leave Russia and return with the same single-entry visa, even if it falls within the validity of the visa.
If you are applying for a multiple entry visa, it may not necessarily be granted, so always be sure to check the details when you receive your passport back from the Embassy. If you do apply for a double or multiple entry visa, be sure that your invitation letter and, if you’re travelling for tourism, your voucher indicates that you will be visiting more than once. All of your paperwork must support the request details on your application.
There is no option to extend a Russian visa for UK citizens whilst you are in the country, so ensure you do not overstay your exit date.
Will I always need a visa to visit Russia?
Tourists on board large cruise ships have the right to visit St. Petersburg without a visa for up to 72 hours, as long as the cruise company has organised this as part of your trip. You have the right to leave the ship and come back on board the ship, but only as part of an organized tourist group. If you wish to leave the ship on your own or in a group of less than 5 tourists, you must have a pre-travel visa.
Most individuals will require a visa in order to gain entry into Russia. There are a variety of visa types available which at first may seem to make things complicated, but can actually allow you more flexibility and save you time and money in the long run. Once you’ve determined which visa type you need, carry on to part 2 in our series to understand the documents you’ll require in order to apply for your visa.