Handbook for foreign citizens

Documents needed for a tourist visa

  • An original, valid, and signed passport with at least one blank page, valid for at least 6 months after the end of your stay.
  • Two signed copies of the Russian visa application form (questionnaire), with all fields completed.
  • A passport-size photo (some embassies/consulates ask for two copies), signed on the reverse.

Documents needed for a Business Visa

  • An original, valid, and signed passport with at least 2 blank pages, valid for at least 6 months after the end of your stay.
  • Two copies of the Russian visa application form, completed and signed.
  • A passport-size photo, signed on the reverse (some embassies/consulates ask for two photographs).
  • An original HIV certificate showing a negative result is required for stays of more than 3 months.
  • An official invitation from an organization which is authorized to invite business visitors to Russia.

Documents needed for a private visa

  • An original, valid, and signed passport with at least one blank page, valid for at least 6 months after the end of your stay.
  • A photocopy of the details pages of your valid passport (showing your name, date of birth, passport number, and expiry date).
  • A copy of the Russian visa application form, completed and signed.
  • Three passport-sizephotos.
  • A Russian visa entitlement certificate (izveshchenie) from the local OVIR in Russia (this must be the original – copies are not accepted).
  • An original HIV Certificate showing a negative result is required for stays of more than 3 months.
  • All visa documents must be accompanied by a covering letter specifying the purpose of your visit, dates of arrival and departure, cities to be visited in Russia, and a telephone or fax number where you can be reached once in Russia.

Documents needed for a transit visa

  • An original, valid, and signed passport with at least one blank page, valid for 6 months after the end of your stay.
  • A copy of the Russian visa application form, completed and signed.
  • 2 passport-size photos, signed on the reverse.
  • A copy of your airline ticket.
  • A visa in your passport for the country of your final destination (if required).

Don’t forget:

  • Photos must be matt-finish (not glossy), in order for the embassy/consulate stamp to adhere properly! The usual size required is 3 x 4 cm, or 1.5 x 2 inches.
  • The passport should be valid for at least 6 months after the expiry date of your Russian visa!
  • Some embassies/consulates require a photocopy of the details pages of your passport in addition to the original, together with the personal data of the bearer (including amendments, passport validity extension, changes of name, etc.)
  • Visa application forms for US citizens and non-US citizens are different.
  • Citizens of Schengen countries must send a ‘card of insurance’ with their visa application.
  • For some types of visas, and for citizens of some countries, embassies/consulates may demand additional documents, such as evidence of medical insurance, an employment or residence permit, or evidence of sufficient funds for your stay in Russia. Failure to provide the correct information could lead to the refusal of your visa.
  • It is always advisable to consult your local Russian embassy/consulate to find out whether any additional documentation is required.

Invitation to Russia

All applications for Russian visas (with the exception of a transit visa) require a specific visa support document – a visa invitation. This is often called ‘visa support’ or ‘invitation letter’, and must be issued by the party inviting you to Russia, whether a tour company, employing company, educational institution, relative, or a friend.

It is vital to bear in mind that the validity and type of Russian visa you are issued should be strictly adhered to. Once you are in Russia, you can neither change your visa status (e.g. from tourist to business, business to educational, or vice versa), nor extend the validity of your visa (except in an emergency). In order to do so, you will have to leave the country and apply for a new visa.

Our company can provide you with a single or double entry tourist invitation within 1 hour. Our rates are among the lowest offered online. We offer a 50% discount on tourist visa support for every client booking accommodation in one of our hotels (Greenwich, Silver Age, and Abat-jour), hostels (Friends hostels), or apartments.

Tourist visa

  • Type of invitation:
    Tourist confirmation and voucher
  • Corresponding authority:
    A Russian tour company which is properly registered with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and possesses a valid ‘tour reference’ number. Make sure you are dealing with a reliable travel agency which can register you once you are in Russia and which will also provide other support services when you arrive.

Business visa

  • Type of invitation:
    Business invitation
  • Corresponding authority:
    The local department of the Passport and Visa Service (PVU) of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (for paper invitations) or the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (for telexes). The sponsoring organization must be officially registered with the PVU in order to apply for an invitation (according to the corresponding Federal Law dated Nov 1, 2002).

Private visa

  • Type of invitation:
    Private invitation (izveshchenie)
  • Corresponding authority:
    The local department of the Passport and Visa Service (PVU) of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs or OVIR. Allow 4–6 weeks for approval and obtain the original invitation to apply for a visa at the Russian embassy/consulate.

Transit visa

  • Type of invitation:
    No invitation required
  • Corresponding authority:
    Present your travel tickets and visa for your country of destination (if required).

Don’t forget:

  • It is always better to ask the Russian embassy/consulate directly whether they accept copies of invitations which have been sent to you by fax or email, or whether they only accept originals. You should specify this to the company or individual arranging your visa invitation to ensure that your invitation and visa are processed without any problems or delays.
  • Please note that a letter from your friends or business partners cannot be regarded as official support documentation, and is therefore not valid for obtaining a Russian visa. An invitation can only be issued by a registered Russian travel agency or by a company or organization authorized by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • Choose a trustworthy agency/company/partner to provide you with visa support. Before placing your order, make sure that the agency is easily contactable, and provides its address and a working phone number. Also check that it is well established, with several years’ experience of working with Russian visas, and will be able to register you in the city where you are staying. It should also be able to provide assistance in the event of an emergency.

Travel without a visa

All visitors to Russia need an entry visa, except for:

Nationals of the following countries:

  • Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine (CIS countries).
  • Bosnia, Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, Macedonia (With official invitation, tourist voucher and passport stamp "poslovno").
  • Croatia, Israel, Venesuela, Angola, Abkhazia, Angola, Albania, Bolivia, Brasilia, Syria, Chile, Philippines, Turkey, Thailand, Argentina, Guatemala (For the stay of maximum 90 days).
  • China (Tourist groups of 5 pax and more with official representative of the autorised tourist company).
  • Cuba (For the stay of maximum 30 days).
  • Mongolia (With official invitation or tourist voucher).

Cruise Passengers

  • Cruise ship passengers do not need a Russian visa, if the stop in the port of call does not exceed 72 hours and if the tourists stay overnight on board.
  • Cruise passengers may disembark from the ship without a tourist visa only for tours organised by cruise or other authorised tourist companies whose responsibilty is to inform Russian migraion services 72 hours before passengers’ arrival.
  • Passengers will not be permitted ashore if they present an invalid passport (even for pre-arranged tour).
  • Passengers who do not take part in organised tours to disembark will need to obtain a Russian tourist visa that cannot be granted once in Russia. Russian visas are issued only in the country of residence before departure.

Children under the age of 16, enlisted in their parents’ passport

NB Children travelling with their own passport must have separate Russian visa and register it upon arrival.

“Sochi Cruises” Ltd.


354065, Russia, Sochi
Navaginskaya Str. 5/6

Tel./Fax: +7 (862) 2901-901

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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