A friend called me last month to ask if I could give him advice for the Russian visa application process. He also wanted to know if I had someone at the Russian visa center that could help him process his visa. I told him not to worry too much, that the Russian visa application is not as complicated as he thinks it is, and that Visa Express services are better than that offered by Russian visa center(s).

Although a lot of people think it’s difficult to get into Russia, the truth is that if you follow the necessary procedures, and obtain the necessary documents, you will get into Russia with ease. You should be mindful of the Russia Visa Center, or travel agent services you use for your Russian visa application. As this could quicken, slow or impair you from getting your Russian visa as at when due.

However, I asked him what the intent for his travel was as this will determine the type of visa he should process and the type that will be issued to him.

There are various types of Russian visas, the type issued to a foreigner depends on the purpose of his visit to the Russian Federation. However, the major types are:

  • Russian tourist visa, which is majorly issued for tourism purposes
  • Russian business visa, used for business personals.
  • Russian student visa, used for educational purposes.
  • Russian work visa, for individuals who want to work in Russia.

The above types of Russian visa can be issued in a Russian visa center after successfully processing your visa.


Citizens of countries that were under the former Soviet Union such as Ukraine and Georgia do not require a visa to gain entrance into the Russian territory. However, such foreigners will need a valid passport. Countries that were not under the Soviet Union will require a tourist visa if the intent for travel is tourism. Nevertheless, a Russian tourist visa cannot be issued without a Russian tourist invitation letter. You can also proceed with your visa application in your country if an authorized and recognized Russian visa center is present.

What is a Tourist invitation letter?

A tourist invitation letter is an official document usually in an A4 format issued from authorized personnel such as:

  • Hotels
  • Tour operators.
  • Travel agencies inviting a foreigner to the Russian Federation for tourism purpose.

A tourist invitation letter is very essential as, without it, your Russian visa application process will not be successful to get a tourist visa. This document will be also required when submitting your documents at a Russian visa center. The following information must be in an original tourist invitation letter:

  • All information found on the passport of the foreigner.
  • The various places in Russian in which the foreigner will visit.
  • The foreigner place of accommodation.
  • The validity period and the number of entries given.

It is important to note that a Russian tourist invitation letter has a validity period of 30days.
If a hotel is used to obtain an invitation letter, you would have to place your accommodation in that hotel. Although, if you choose not to stay in the hotel, the hotel will charge a stipulated fee. The use of Visa Express service doesn’t involve such charges and you are at liberty to choose whichever hotel you deem fit for your accommodation. However, very few hotels work with Russian visa center in Russia to provide accommodation for a foreigner to stay in Russia.

After obtaining a tourist invitation letter, you can commence your Russian visa application process to get a visa through a Russian visa center or authorized agency like visa express. During this process, there are some essential documents required.

These documents are:

  1. A valid passport.
  2. A completed application form from the consulate website.
  3. A passport photograph.
  • A valid passport: A valid passport with a six-month validity period is needed for your Russian visa application process. Depending on the number of entry that was written on your Russian tourist invitation letter, one or two blank pages will be needed. A blank page will be needed if you were given a single entry, while two blank pages will be needed for double or multiple entries. These pages are required for stamping your visa.
  • A completed application form from the consulate website: An application form should be filled from the consulate website, you should endeavour to fill out all the fields on the form. After filling all the fields with your correct details, submit the form, then print and sign where applicable. For foreigners below the ages of 18years, an international passport or driver license of the parents or guardian will be needed when signing. A certificate of birth or letter of adoption will also be needed if the minor was adopted. You can fill your visa application form from the consulate website or fill it here. You should ensure that you fill your application form correctly, with no mistakes. If there happens to be a mistake, your Russian visa center will charge an additional fee.
  • A passport: You will require a passport photograph that has a white background. The passport photograph must show a neutral expression and no head gears must be worn. However, an exception is made for individuals whose religion require them to wear headgears such as Muslims. No glasses should be worn in your passport photograph. After the submission of all necessary documents needed to process your Russian tourist visa at your desired Russian visa center or authorized travel agency, your visa application process can be tracked online using a reference number. This reference number is usually written on your receipt. It is important to note that to use the services of a Russian visa center, an appointment is most times needed as Russian visa center always have a lot of applicants and this could make you stand on long queues during your application. Therefore, when using a Russian visa center services endeavour to get an appointment.

Depending on the type of visa, its urgency, your citizenship and how fast your visa application was verified at the consulate office, it takes about 6 weeks and four working days to get your visa. When your visa is ready, you should go back to the Russian visa center, with your original receipt of payment and a means of identification such as your I.D card. If for one reason or the other you couldn’t go the Russian visa center. You can send a representative to get your visa for you. However, this representative must come along with a means of identification, your original receipt of payment and an authorized form. Without those documents your visa will not be released to your representative at the Russian visa center.


A Russian business visa is issued to foreigners for business-related activities such as for:

  • Establishing a business in Russia.
  • Signing business contracts and negotiating with foreign partners.
  • Extending and finalizing business partnerships and agreements.
  • For international symposiums related to business.
  • Servicing and maintaining imported equipment.
  • Business meetings with foreign partners and major shareholders.
  • Maintenance of company’s equipment abroad.
  • Partaking in exhibitions, business auctions, business meetings and related events.

As with getting a Russian tourist visa, you will need a Russian business invitation letter to get a Russian business visa.
A Russian business invitation letter can be issued through:

  • Direct invitation (companies).
  • Federal migration service.

N.B: If a company in Russia needs your services, the company will be a charge of sending your Russian invitation letter, thus the invitation letter will be written by them using their letterhead or issued from the ministry of internal affairs. A background check will be done by the federal migration service, therefore the company must be legally registered and all their registration documents must be intact.

The validity period of a Russian business visa is 90. However, citizens of the United States and E.U have a validity period that is up to three and five years respectively. Depending on the type of Russian visa issued, multiple or double entries can be allowed.

To get a Russian business invitation letter, the company you are in business with can simply write an invitation using an A4 paper with their letterhead or they get the letter from the ministry of internal affairs. A background check will be done by the federal migration service, therefore the company must be legally registered and all their registration documents must be intact.


The various documents needed to get a Russian business visa are:

  • A Russian business invitation letter.
  • A valid passport.
  • A completed application form from the consulate website.
  • A passport photograph.


A Russian private visa is one of the most difficult and time-consuming types of visa to get. A private Russian visa is issued to foreigners who would love to visit their family, and friends living in the Russian Federation. It is advisable that instead of a private visa, a business or tourist visa should be requested for during a Russian visa application in Russia visa center.

However, to get a Russian private visa, a Russian private invitation letter must be sent before processing the visa.

A private invitation letter can be issued by individuals in Russia with a legal resident permit or Russian citizen through the migration police or local department and it’s always issued on a stamp form.


The documents needed to get a Russian private visa are:

  • A Russian private visa invitation letter.
  • A valid passport.
  • A previous Russia passport, if available.
  • Other necessary documents.

The validity period of a Russian visa is 90 days. A private invitation letter cannot be sent by a company or travel agency. Also, a Russian private visa cannot be extended except in some circumstances like urgent medical treatment of the foreigner. It is advisable to apply for a tourist visa, through authorized travel services like Visa Express
This gives you the ability to change your place of accommodation to a friend’s or relatives. This will help you save extra cost unlike when you get your Russia invitation through a hotel, where you would have to stay in the hotel or pay a stipulated fee when you want to change your accommodation.


Visa Express is a recognized travel agency and has been authorized by the Russian government for Russian visa application processes. Visa Express offers a quick and efficient processing time hardly experienced with Russian visa center.

We do not charge extra fees when there is a mistake in your application form, unlike the Russian visa center as we believe “no one is above mistakes.”

We check all our Russian visa applications to ensure there are no mistakes, and the information written will be in the good books of the consulate to prevent the rejection of our customer’s visa application.

when there is a need for advice, we do not leave our clients uncovered. This is because your satisfaction is our utmost priority.

Our application processes are swift, there is no need to book an appointment or stand in queues as we are a touch away from you online

We also offer live customer support and lastly, we do not leave our clients to a bot.