Russian Visa FAQ

Frequently asked questions about getting a Russian Visa in America

Who issues Russian visas to residents living in the United States?

The only authorities authorized to issue Russian visas are diplomatic missions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian federation. There are 3 locations: the Washington D.C. Russian Embassy, the Houston Russian Consulate in Texas, and the New York Russian Consulate. The Russian Consulates in San Francisco and Seattle are permanently closed. There is no Russian Consulate on the West Coast. If you would like to apply with one of the consulates directly, you must appear there in person. If you prefer to do the process completely by mail, you need to go through a visa agent. We serve residents living in all states of the U.S. Russian Agency makes sure the process is easy and as fast as possible for you. We carefully check over all documents and ensure that everything is accurate and included.

Do I need a Russian Visa?

Whether or not you need a visa depends on which country you are a citizen of. Please click on the link for the list of 2019 visa-free countries for Russia. If you do not see your country on the list, you will need to obtain a Russian visa.

As a U.S. citizen, do I need a visa for Russia?

Yes, all U.S. citizens must get a Russian visa in order to enter Russia, regardless of the purpose of visit.

Can I use my Russian visa in countries of the former USSR?

No, the Russian visa is only valid for the Russian Federation.

Do minors need to get a visa to travel to Russia?

If your child has his or her own passport then yes, he or she must get a Russian visa in order to travel there. The processing fee and time will be the same as for adults. However, some extra documents are required for children.

I need to apply for a Russian visa. How should I do this?

You should first choose the type of Russian visa that is the most appropriate for your purpose of visit. Here is an article explaining the different types of visas to Russia. Please contact us and tell us about your situation and we will be happy to advise you. The second step is to obtain an invitation from an authorized organization or company from Russia. We can get this invitation for you or assist with your invitation in case you already have one. Please contact us and we will give you more details and information about all the steps involved.

What’s the best way to contact us about your Russian visa?

There are three ways to contact us. You can give us a call on our tollfree number, click on the chat bottom on the bottom of our website, or after hours you can send us an email at and we will respond within a few hours after the start of the business day.

I know the type of visa I need and I already have a visa invitation. What should I do next?

You can either submit your application with documents at one of our offices or apply by mail.

Is it possible to get a Russian visa at the Russian border?

No, you can not get a visa at the Russian border. Russian visas are only issued by Russian consular departments abroad. You must apply for a visa in the country where you permanently live. For example, a Canadian citizen is not able to apply for a Russian visa in America unless he or she has a green card or a long-term work/study visa. A foreign citizen temporarily staying as a tourist in America is not able to apply for a Russian visa in the U.S.

I frequently travel and need my passport most of the time. Can I apply for a Russian visa with a notarized copy of my passport?

This is not possible. The Russian visa is not an electronical visa. It must be physically attached to your passport. We will help you to choose when you should apply and to do this with the fastest possible processing time.

What is the fastest possible processing time to get a Russian visa?

The fastest processing time is two to three business days for a Russian visa. Unfortunately, there is no way to get a Russian visa the same day, unless you live in one of the cities where a consulate is located. The normal processing time for a 3-year multiple entry Russian visa is three weeks. For a one entry or double entry Russian visa, it takes from one and a half weeks up to two weeks. With both visa types, you are allowed to be in Russia no longer than 30 days. Please see all the options that we offer.

How much does a Russian visa cost?

The cost of a Russian visa consists of the consular fee and our processing fee. It doesn’t depend on the type of visa; it depends on the processing time. The shorter the processing time, the more expensive it will be. Please check over all the options that we offer.

Is it ok to book my flight and hotel before getting a visa?

For most situations we recommend that you wait to buy your plane tickets and to book your hotel until you get your Russian travel visa. Please contact us about your particular situation and we can tell you the best way to proceed.

Can I get a Russian visa if I was adopted from Russia by an American family and never renewed my Russian passport?

Despite not having renewed your Russian passport for a long time, you are still a Russian citizen. You are not eligible to get a Russian visa because all Russian citizens must enter Russia with their valid Russian travel passport. You must confirm your Russian citizenship first and then obtain a new travel passport. Please contact us for details about this process.

While I’m in Russia, can I change my visa type? For example, from tourist to business.

There is no option to change your type of visa in Russia. You would have to leave the country and then obtain your new visa in a Russian consulate in your country. After that you can reenter Russia. Also, it is not possible to extend the length of your visa while in Russia. Neither a tourist nor business visa can be extended. You must leave the country and obtain a new visa. Please make sure that you do not overstay your visa. If you do, you will need to get an exit visa, which is a complicated process that takes a long time. You will miss your flight and have to buy another plane ticket. We highly recommend that you pay close attention to your exit date and double check your tickets. If something is not clear for you, please contact us and we will gladly help you.

Can I change the entry and/or exit dates of my Russian visa if it has already been issued?

Unfortunately, it is not possible to make changes to an existing visa. The entry and exit dates cannot be changed on issued Russian visas. If you need to make changes, you must apply for a new Russian visa and pay the processing fee in full again.

I have a connecting flight in Moscow. Do I need a Russian visa?

You do not need to get a Russian visa if you are changing planes or have a layover of less than 24 hours in Russia. You must stay in the transit area though. If you have a long layover and want to do some sightseeing, you must obtain a Russian tourist visa prior to traveling there. If you are going from one airport to another, you need a transit visa. You will also need a transit visa if you are staying in the transit area for more than 24 hours, even if you do not leave the airport.

Can I sign the Russian visa application electronically? Are digital signatures ok on the visa application form?

The application form must be printed out and signed by hand. There are no exceptions.

Who should sign the visa application for a minor (under the age of 16)?

A parent or legal guardian must sign the application on behalf of the minor/child. If you are applying for a visa for a minor/child, please make sure that his or her passport has one of the parent’s signatures or the legal guardian’s signature in it. Without this signature in the passport, the consulate will not accept the application.

If my plans change, can I cancel my visa application after applying and get a refund?

Once we start your application process, a refund cannot be issued, but we can request the return of your passport before the visa has been issued and withdraw your application. It might take a few business days to receive your passport back.

Is it possible to make changes to my visa after submitting my application, but before it is issued?

After submitting your application, it is not possible to make any changes. If it is necessary to make a change to your application, you must withdraw your current application and start a new one. For the new application the full processing fee will be charged.

If I have already obtained a Russian visa in the past, will this help to make the process quicker and easier when I apply for another Russian visa? Do I have to submit the full set of documents, including my passport, if I received a Russian visa previously?

The process of applying for a Russian visa is the same even if it is the second or third time you are applying. However, you will need to include the information about your previous Russian visa(s) in your new visa application. All documents must be submitted and your passport sent for the new visa to be attached to it.

I have a three-year multiple entry visa to Russia, but my passport got stolen. Can I transfer my existing visa to the new passport?

Yes, it is possible for your visa to be transferred. This can be done through the same consulate that issued the visa by providing a copy of the original application and paying the transfer fee. The end date of the visa will remain the same; it cannot be extended. If for some reason it is not possible to do the transfer, you will need to apply for a new visa.

I received my visa and some information on the visa is wrong. What should I do?

Once you receive your passport with your Russian visa, we kindly ask you to check over all the information carefully. If something appears to be wrong, please let us know. If it is the fault of the Russian consulate, it will be corrected for free in the shortest possible time. If the mistake was made by the applicant, a new visa application will need to be processed and the full fee will be required.

Do I need to register my visa after arriving in Russia? How can I register my Russian visa after entering Russia?

All foreign citizens entering the Russian federation must register their visas with the Ministry of Internal Affairs within seven business days after arrival. If you are staying in a hotel, you don’t need to do this. All the hotels in Russia automatically register their guests. If you are not staying at a hotel, please read more about registering your visa here.

If I have a valid Russian visa and I need to apply for a new Russia visa, can I have two valid Russian visas at the same time?

This is not allowed. If you apply for a new Russian visa, the one that you already have will be canceled.

I’m visiting St. Petersburg on a cruise. Do I need a Russian visa?

In accordance with the Russian Federation regulations, foreign citizens can enter Russia on cruises or ferries without a visa for a period of 72 hours or less only if they are a part of an organized tour group. You will need to be accompanied by a licensed Russian tour agent company and stay overnight on the ship. It is also required to leave Russia the same way you entered.

Can I get a new Russia visa while staying in Russia?

No, this shouldn’t be done. If you need to apply for a different type of visa or if you want to stay longer, you must leave Russia and then apply for a new visa and reenter Russia with that visa.

Is there any chance that my application for a Russian visa could be denied?

Please be advised that the Russian Consulate reserves the right to process applications for as long as needed if there is anything they want to look further into. They also may require the personal appearance of the applicant for an interview if they deem it necessary. They reserve the right to deny any application.

I am a citizen of two different countries. Which passport should I use to travel to Russia?

If you have Russian citizenship, you must enter and exit the Russian Federation with your valid Russian travel passport. The following applies to people with dual citizenship, excluding Russia. If you are living in one of the countries from which you are a citizen, you must apply for a Russian visa with the passport of that country. For example, if you have dual Canadian and American citizenship and you are living in America, you must apply at one of the Russian consulates in the U.S. with your American passport. If you have dual citizenship but are not living in either of those countries, you can use either passport to apply for a Russian visa.

How long can I stay in Russia?

Your visa will be issued exactly for the time on your invitation, regardless of the date of visa issuance and what your actual entry date to Russia is. If you have a one or double entry tourist visa for up to 30 days, the time you are allowed to stay in Russia is exactly the same as on your visa. You won’t be able to entry Russia before your visa starts. If you are a US citizen and you received a multiple entry 3-year tourist visa, you can stay in Russia for up to 180 days. You must leave Russia before your visa expires. A business visa can be issued for months (one, three, or six months) or years (one or three years). If it’s a multiple entry business visa, you can stay in Russia for up to 90 days at a time out of each 180-day period. There is a maximum of 180 days that you are allowed to be in Russia for each year you have a business visa. If you are a US citizen, you are allowed to stay up to 180 days in a row.

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