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, Do I Need a VISA to Visit Russia? , Do I Need a VISA to Visit Russia?

Baltic Travel Blog

Do I Need a VISA to Visit Russia?

Posted on May 22nd, 2020.

With its fascinating history, elegant cities and spectacular landscapes, Russia is a destination that calls out to travellers in search of adventure.

But the perceived politics and bureaucracy behind securing a Russian visa can put off many travellers, especially as visa requirements are constantly in flux.

While UK nationals do have to fill in paperwork and meet certain requirements, with a little knowledge of the rules and processes getting a Russian visa doesn’t have to be stressful.

We asked our Russian travel specialists what the latest visa rules are for British citizens to make planning your next trip that little bit easier!

Visa Guidelines for UK Citizens

For British citizens holding a full UK passport, the quick answer to the question, ‘do I need a visa to visit Russia?’ is yes, with one exception.

For most travellers, a Russian visa will need to be arranged in advance, if they are planning to take a holiday to Russia. However, if you’re arriving in certain destinations by ship as part of a cruise, then you are allowed 72-hour, visa-free access within that city.

The number of destinations where this is possible is limited to the following places:

  • St Petersburg
  • Kaliningrad
  • Sochi
  • Vladivostok
  • Vyborg
  • Sakhalin
  • Novorossiysk

Anyone making use of the 72-hour visa-free policy must also have a tour booked with a registered agency when they arrive via cruise ship.

For all other travellers – anyone arriving in Russia overland or flying into an airport – a visa must have been issued in advance and be present in your passport on arrival at immigration.

That means, for instance, if you’re flying from London to Moscow for a city break in the Russian capital you will need a visa arranged in advance, even if you’re only going to be exploring the city for a few days.

What Are the Requirements for a Russia Visa?

There are several types of visa that can be issued to holders of UK passports; for travel purposes the most common is going to be the Russian Tourist Visa.

This has a particular set of requirements that need to be fulfilled before it will be issued. While the requirements are all relatively easy to meet if you’re a genuine tourist, the process is, of course, more complicated than simply travelling to countries in the Baltics or Scandinavia, where there are no visa requirements at all.

To start, your passport needs to be in date, and importantly it needs to be valid for a minimum of six months beyond the expiration date of your Russian visa. Always check your validity date, as travellers can be turned back at the border if they get this wrong, even if a visa has already been issued.

Tourist visas for British citizens are only valid for a maximum of 30 days, and often will only be valid for the duration of your proposed stay if less than 30 days.

Tourists therefore need to provide suitable evidence with their application, primarily that they have their transport, tours, and accommodation already arranged.

Travel agents, including Baltic Travel Company, are able to issue confirmations to tourists when their tours are booked. This makes things a lot easier, as the embassy will accept this as proof that you are visiting as a tourist. As part of the confirmation, a Tourist Voucher is usually provided which will be asked for as confirmation.

Essentially, in order to apply for a Russian visa you need a full itinerary, travel dates and tickets, all arranged and booked in advance, and then you need proof of this. For this reason, it’s always easier to go through a registered and experienced tour company that arrange all of this for you.

To apply for a Russian visa, you also need to complete the relevant visa forms and submit biometrics (more on this below).

Here a quick summary of the requirements:

  • Valid passport
  • Six months validity after the expiry of the visa
  • One passport picture
  • Travel Voucher and confirmation of itinerary
  • Completed visa forms and biometrics.

How Do I Get a VISA to Visit Russia?

You can start your application process for a Russian visa online, through the Russian Visa Application Centre embassy’s website. However at least part of the application process needs to be completed in person, at a visa application centre in the United Kingdom.

You’ll need to arrive during the opening hours to submit biometrics at one of these visa application centres, as the Russian authorities make copies of your fingerprints. No appointment needed.

There are only three processing centres in the UK, in London, Manchester and Edinburgh. Once your biometrics have been taken, the visa can take up to 20 working days to be processed. If you’re in a rush, then the express service can take as little as 3 working days if you meet all the requirements, but costs a lot more.

For this reason, make sure you get your application checked before you submit it, as any missing or wrong data will slow the process down. You also need to make sure that you’re starting your application as far in advance as you can, in case you run into any obstacles during the process of applying for a Russian visa in the United Kingdom.

Anyone travelling to Russia needs to remember that it’s important to stick to the rules of the visa. The Russian government takes visas and immigration policies seriously, so the laws should never be broken.

For tourists, that means making sure that your visa is in date when you travel, as well as being certain that your passport is in date and matches the details on the visa.

Travellers shouldn’t overstay their visa, but if they run into difficulty due to unforeseen circumstances, they should contact the British Embassy for further advice.

Visa requirements can change all the time, so always remember to double-check the current situation when you’re planning your next trip.

If you’re planning a trip to Russia, contact the Baltic Travel Company to discuss your Russian holiday and Russian visa application. We’d love to help you plan the adventure of a lifetime.


Join our newsletter

Be the first to hear of Special Offers and travel news. To receive our monthly newsletters with more information, on the Northern Lights, the Midnight Sun and all the countries Baltic Travel can take you to, and special offers, please enter your email address and press the sign up button.

We never allow third parties to use your data and we do not keep financial information. We protect your data as if it was our own, because we're people too!


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