Invitations. General information

Citizens of most countries require visas to enter the Russian Federation.

Foreign citizens are issued the appropriate visa depending on the purpose of their entry and stay in the Russian Federation. The most popular types are tourist visas and business visas.

You must obtain an invitation in order to arrange for a visa. Without this document, your visa application will not be accepted by a Russian consulate. After obtaining an invitation, you must contact the nearest Russian consulate with the required documentation and submit an application for a visa. You must confirm all information required for the process directly with the Russian consulate to which you are submitting the documents.

An invitation is a document required of all applicants to obtain any type of Russian visa (except transit visas).

Invitations are prepared differently depending on the type of visa requested, and are divided by:

  • purpose of trip: tourism, business, private, work and student;
  • effective period: 30 days, 90 days, 180 days, 365 days;
  • by number of entries: single entry, double entry, multiple entry.

The rules and requirements concerning invitations in the name of individuals are stipulated under Russian law. Their preparation is a complicated bureaucratic procedure and depends on the citizenship of the foreign applicant and the Russian cities that he or she intends to visit. Important:electronic confirmation from a hotel, homeowner or any other private party is not an official invitation and a Russian visa cannot be issued based on it.

A list of the types of Russian visa and a brief response to the most frequently asked questions are provided below:

Tourist Visa

A tourist voucher issued by a Russian tourist agency registered in the Unified Federal Register of Tour Operators serves as an invitation for the purposes of applying for a tourist visa.
The effective period and time limit of a tourist visa is up to 14 days (the simplest, most convenient visa) or 30 days (additional documents are required to apply for this).

Business Visa

To apply for a business visa, an invitation is prepared in the Russian Migration Service division of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or in some cases on the letterhead of a legal entity registered in Russia.
Effective period and time limit of a business visa: single and double entry visas for periods of 30 days or 90 days; multiple entries visas for 180 days or 365 days (US citizens can apply for a Russian visa with an effective period of 3 years).
In accordance with the resolution of the RF government, foreign citizens that obtain Russian multiple entry visas can remain in Russia no more than 90 days out of every 180 days.

Private Visa

Private visas are designed for applicants who have relatives or friends in Russia.
Effective period and time limit of visa: up to 90 days, single entry.
An invitation issued by the local branch of the Directorate of the Federal Migration Service is required to apply for a private visa.

Transit Visa

Transit visas are designed for those traveling to another country through Russian territory.
Effective period and time limit of transit visa: up to 3 days, single and double entry.
A transit visa is not required to remain in an airport transit zone for no more than 24 hours in order to transfer to another flight.
An invitation is not required for this type of visa. Transit visas are issued by a Russian consulate based on your travel document and a visa for the country of your final destination, if applicable.

Other Types of Visa:

Work Visas, Student Visas, Visas for teachers, Humanitarian and other visas are issued in special circumstances for specific categories of foreign citizens. Their effective period and conditions for application are significantly different from “visitor” visas.