How to Get a Visa for Russia


Russia stretches nearly halfway around the world and encompasses most of eastern Europe and northern Asia. Its vast size gives it an immense variety of landscapes. Arctic deserts give way to tundra and forest zones that make up the bulk of Russia’s land area. The northerly latitude means a short growing season, and most of the country’s land is characterized by permafrost that makes roads and settlement difficult to build.

The Russian Federation is a post-Soviet state that seeks to reassert itself as a global power. Its wealth comes from vast natural resources, above all oil and gas. Its state-run energy monopoly Gazprom supplies a significant share of Europe’s gas needs. Its political class has largely been dominated by Vladimir Putin since 2000, who has enhanced his control over the state and media while encouraging fierce nationalism and hostility to the West.

At its peak in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Russian Empire was a major world power on an equal footing with France, Prussia and Austria. Its cultural output was also a high point, producing such enlightened figures as Catherine the Great and Tolstoy. But the gulf between dynasty and its subjects grew wide as time passed, and the empire crumbled in the aftermath of Napoleon’s disastrous invasion.

In the twentieth century, the Soviet Union replaced the monarchy with a totalitarian system headed by Lenin and later Stalin. He used the Red Army to kill or exile millions of political opponents, destroy the remnants of the Romanov Empire and turn the country’s agriculture and industry into giant state-owned enterprises.

Today’s Russia is a nation of 148 million people, including 130 ethnic groups that speak many different languages and follow a variety of religions. Its diversity and wealth of history make it an excellent place to visit.

If you’re planning a trip to Russia, start the visa process early. The process may take up to six weeks, and it’s best to use a travel agency that can arrange visas for all countries you plan to visit in advance and help with key transport bookings.

Once you arrive, make sure to register your visa within seven days of arrival (excluding weekends and public holidays). The obligation to do so is imposed by law and enforced by the police. This is done to prevent smuggling and illegal immigration. You must register with the hotel or hostel where you’re staying or with your landlord, host family or friend if you’re staying in a private residence. The registration form requires your full name and passport number. The address is also required, as well as your entry and exit dates written according to European calendar convention (day/month/year). If you do not register, you could face a fine or even deportation. The same applies to foreigners who have a work permit or student visa. Make sure to carry your registration receipt at all times. You can download the official registration form from the website of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.