The 12-step guide to getting a Russian Tourist Visa

If you are traveling to Moscow independently and don't want to spend extra money on agency fees for Russian visa services, follow the 12 steps below and you can get a Russian Tourist Visa with minimal trouble and expense.

  1. Decide on your dates and itinerary

    Before you try to apply for a Russian Visa, you should decide exactly when you are going to be traveling and which cities you are going to visit. This information must be included on your visa application. Please remember that if you are not a US citizen and you wish to travel to Russia for longer than 30 days, you will need a different type of visa.

  2. Check your passport

    Ensure that your passport is valid for the dates you are planning to travel. In most countries, Russian consular departments and visa centers will require that your passport is valid for at least six months after your planned departure date from Russia. You also need to be sure that you have the necessary number of clean pages in your passport (this also varies at different consular departments, but two is normally enough).

  3. Find your nearest Russian consular department or visa center

    The next step is to find the nearest Russian consular department or visa center which will accept your visa application. If you are unsure where that is, check the links here. If you are planning to apply outside of the country where you hold citizenship, make extra certain your local consulate or visa center will accept your application, and that there are not any special conditions that apply to passport holders of your nationality. All travelers will need to check the processing times, application rules and visa tariffs for each consular department separately.

  4. Book accommodation

    Before you apply for your Russian Tourist Visa, you must book accommodation for all dates of your stay in Russia and obtain the official documents (Tourist Voucher and Tourist Confirmation) that confirm your booking. These visa support documents are supplied free-of-charge by Moscow Hotels to all clients who book accommodation in Moscow directly via this website, or who book accommodation in Moscow and anywhere else in Russia by following a link from this website to Before you book, please read carefully the information here to ensure that we can provide you with free visa support documents.

  5. Get your visa support documents

    You will automatically receive visa support documents simply by booking accommodation. If you book with us or by following a link from this site to, you will still need to fill out our Visa Support Request form for each traveler for whom accommodation is booked before we can issue free visa support documents. If you have already booked your accommodation elsewhere and have not received any information about visa support, you should contact the hotel or agency with which you are booked to ensure you receive your Tourist Voucher and Tourist Confirmation (this may incur an extra fee).

    Please note: In most cases, Russian consular departments and visa centers will accept faxed or emailed copies of the Tourist Voucher and Tourist Confirmation, but the citizens of some African and Asian countries need to provide the original documents stamped and signed. In this case, you will also need to pay in full for your accommodation before applying for your visa. If this applies to you, contact us to find out how we can help.

  6. Get health insurance

    At most Russian consular departments and visa centers, you will be required to show that you have health insurance covering the dates of your proposed trip and valid in Russia. If you already have a travel insurance policy, you will need to confirm that it covers travel to the Russian Federation.

  7. Get your picture taken

    Along with your visa application, you will need to submit a recent photo of yourself. In most cases, one passport-size color photograph taken against a white background is sufficient, but check the requirements at your local Russian consular department or visa center. You must remember to sign the back of the photograph.

  8. Fill in the application form

    All Russian visa applicants now have to fill out their application on the website of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs here. Once you have completed the form, you will need to print it out and sign it before submitting it.

  9. Submit your application

    Now you have everything ready, you can choose how you wish to submit your visa application. The proliferation of outsourced Russian visa centers in most countries means that submitting your Russian visa application in person is now faster and simpler than in the past. However, it is still much easier to apply by post if you have the time and the opportunity. Be aware that this process can take up to one month and, as a rule, consular departments do not issue urgent visas by post. While your visa is being processed, you will of course not be able to travel unless you have a second passport.

    If you need a visa more urgently, you can also find a Russian visa service provider near you. These private agencies will check your application form and ensure you have all the necessary documents, as well as physically submitting your application on your behalf. These services are particularly useful if you live a long way from the nearest major city with a Russian consular department and visa center.

    Please note: UK and Danish citizens can no longer make postal applications for Russian visas or use a private visa agency as they are required to attend a Russian visa center in person to be fingerprinted before their application will be considered.

  10. Obtain your visa

    When you submit your application, you will be given exact details of when and how to collect your passport with Russian visa (assuming your application is successful). Some Russian visa centers now allow you track your visa application online, but in most cases there is little point in trying to contact your Russian consular departments or visa center before the date your visa is due.

  11. Obtain a Migration Card

    When you arrive in Russia, you need to ensure that you obtain a Migration Card at your point of entry. If you arrive at a major airport, this form will be automatically printed and handed to you at passport control. If you are entering Russia across a land border, you will still have to find the form yourself in the waiting area before passport control and fill it in by hand in duplicate (in English). You can find out more about Migration Cards here.

  12. Register your visa

    Once you arrive at your destination in the Russian Federation, the organization that is providing you with accommodation is obliged to register your visa within seven working days of entry. If you are staying in a hotel or any other accommodation properly registered to host foreign travelers, this is a simple formality and all you are required to do is allow the reception staff or equivalent to make a copy of your passport when you check in. They will then enter your details into a Migration Service database and issue you with printed proof of registration, which you should keep with your passport until you leave Russia. You can find out more about registration here.

    And finally...
  13. Make copies

    It is strongly recommend that you make photocopies of all your travel documents, including the main pages of your passport, your Russian visa, your migration card and your proof of registration. Losing any travel documents during your stay in Russia can be a major problem, and having copies is almost certain to make things easier. You may also wish to carry copies rather than original documents with you in case the Russian police wish to check your identity.