Who can travel to Russia in 2021?
In accordance with Annex №1 of the Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation №635-R of March 16, tourists from the following countries may come to Russia:
United Arab Emirates
Citizens of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Ukraine residing in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions are also allowed to visit Russia.
There are 2 main rules for travellers who are going to visit Russia:
— You must be a citizen of these countries or have a residence permit (or any other document proving the right of permanent residence).
— You have to enter Russia by plane and only from the territory of your country.
As for other countries, there are certain categories of citizens that can enter Russia. See the full list on the Federal Security Service website (available in Russian).
These categories are:
— diplomats and their family members;
— drivers, captains and pilots of international flights;
— foreign nationals who are family members of Russian citizens
— citizens who need to take care for their closest relatives (e.g. husbands, wives, children, mothers and fathers);
— citizens who have a residence permit for Russia;
— migrants who participate in the governmental programme;
— citizens who come for medical treatment (the documents should be issued by the Ministry of Health);
— citizens entering due to death of a close relative (death certificate and a document confirming the degree of kinship are required);
— highly qualified specialists. See the instructions for such specialists on the Federal Agency for Tourism website (available in Russian);
— residents of Baikonur and employees of companies working in the space industry.
What documents are needed for entry to Russia?
Negative COVID-19 PCR test — provide it at the customs. You must make it no earlier than 72 hours before departure.
You do not need to stay in quarantine if you have a negative test result.
A passport valid for 6 months from the date of travel.
Application form for those who are on flights to the Russian Federation for border crossing. It is to be completed prior to arrival in Russia.
Visa (citizens of 58 states are eligible for visa-free travel. See the list of these countries at the Federal Agency for Tourism website).
You must apply for it at the nearest visa application centre of your country: electronic visas to Russia are temporarily suspended.
Visa application form.
Sample for British nationals.
Sample for citizens of other countries.
Medical Insurance (Russian abbreviation: DMS). It must be valid across the whole territory of Russia and cover possible COVID-19 infection.
Proof of accommodation. Required for citizens who are nor eligible for visa-free travel to Russia.
Things you need to foresee before travelling to Russia
You need to be tested for COVID-19 in 72 hours before your arrival. The fastest way to get a test result is to do express tests. Keep in mind that they might be more expensive. The certificate must be in English or Russian. You may request a Russian translation at the clinic.
If you will show signs of fever or any other symptoms of an illness, you may be asked to re-do the test upon arrival. Set aside some cash on that — on average, the test costs 3,000 rubles (approximately 34 EUR). If the result is positive, you will have to stay for treatment.
Rules and recommendations you should follow while travelling in Russia
— be sure to wear gloves and a medical mask in public places: shops, transport, public institutions and museums;
— maintain at least 1,5 meters between yourself and people around;
— avoid crowded places;
— take a taxi instead of public transport.
How not to get COVID-19 — basic rules
Precautions The World Health Organization advises to follow:
— wash your hands thoroughly with soap, use alcohol-based hand rubs;
— wear a mask and gloves in public places. The mask must cover your nose and mouth;
— cover your mouth with a tissue if you feel like sneezing or coughing. After that, dispose the tissue immediately;
— avoid touching your face.
Stay at home if you feel unwell. If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, call 103 immediately.
Who can travel to Russia in 2021?
International tourism is currently going through difficult times, but the borders are gradually opening with certain restrictions. Russia is resuming air traffic with many countries and is beginning to issue tourist visas again.
Who can enter Russia?
Denis Grishkin/Moskva Agency
The main document that regulates entry to Russia during the pandemic is the Government Decree No. 635-r (March 16, 2020) that is regularly upgraded.
According to this document, only certain categories of foreigners can visit Russia, regardless of citizenship: diplomats, pilots, Russians’ family members, athletes to participate in competitions and specialists by invitation and foreigners with a residence permit in Russia. They can enter with any kind of transport.
Residents of the partially recognized republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia can also enter Russia via land and railway checkpoints, regardless of the trip purpose. The main thing is that the entry must be from these republics.
Andrei Nikerichev/Moskva Agency
However, no restrictions apply to Russian citizens: holders of Russian passports can freely return to the Motherland. Before registering for a flight, they need to fill out a special electronic form and upon arrival in Russia, they need to pass a PCR test for COVID-19 within three days and upload the results to the state services website. If they have a certificate of vaccination with a Russian vaccine, then the test is not needed. Note that foreign vaccines are not yet recognized in Russia.
Can a tourist visit Russia?
Denis Grishkin/Moskva Agency
According to the abovementioned decree, foreigners can come to Russia from those countries with which Russia has resumed regular flights, including for tourist purposes. It is important to come from that country where the visitor has citizenship or a residence permit. That is, a Turkish citizen must fly from Turkey, while a UK citizen – only from the UK. It’s forbidden to enter Russia via land or sea borders (with the exception of Belarus: citizens of this state can also enter by train).
As of July 2021, the countries from which a tourist can fly directly are: Austria, Azerbaijan, Albania, Armenia, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, UK, Hungary, Venezuela, Vietnam, Germany, Greece, Egypt, India, Iceland, Jordan, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Qatar, Cyprus, Kyrgyzstan, Korea, Cuba, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Mauritius, Maldives, Malta, Morocco, Mexico, UAE, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, North Macedonia, Seychelles, Serbia, Singapore, Syria, the U.S., Tajikistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Switzerland, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia and Japan.
To board the plane, you must provide a negative PCR test for COVID-19 (in English or Russian), made no earlier than 72 hours before entering Russia. Children under the age of two do not need to pass a test. There is no quarantine for holders of such certificates (anyway, you won’t be allowed on a flight without them). Also, those arriving need to fill out a special form (sample) and have a policy covering medical expenses in the case of COVID-19.
Citizens of the Eurasian Economic Union (Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan) (and from September 1, 2021, all CIS citizens) must install the mobile app called ‘Traveling without COVID-19’ to enter Russia (Google Play and App Store) and enter the test results in the application.
In Russia, it is still necessary to wear a mask in public places, including on any form of public transport and shopping malls. You are not required to wear one outside.
Russia has its own visa rules for each country, which can be found on the website of the Russian Embassy or the visa center of your country. If you already have a visa to Russia and you are included in the list of countries whose citizens are allowed to enter, then you can enter with this visa. If you need a new visa, then you need to apply for it at the visa center or the embassy in your country. Russia is once again issuing tourist, business and other types of visas, for countries with which it has resumed air traffic.
Note, a tourist visa will be given for up to six months, if a confirmed hotel booking is provided (the document is in Russian).
Meanwhile, citizens of 52 countries, including the EU, Japan and China, will be able to enter the country with an electronic visa, which can be issued in just four days, without the need for any documents confirming the purpose of the trip. Additionally, 72-hour visa-free entry to Russia for cruise ship passengers will, once again, come into force.
Important! In many countries, there are still restrictions on LEAVING for the purpose of tourism, so having a Russian visa does not even guarantee that you will get permission to leave your country. This should be clarified before making any trips.
All information is current as of July 23, 2021.
If using any of Russia Beyond’s content, partly or in full, always provide an active hyperlink to the original material.
CONSULAR SECTION INFORMS
Foreign citizens, allowed to enter the Russian Federation.
According to the decision of the Government of the Russian Federation
No. 635-r of 16 March 2020 in some cases UK and non-UK citizens are allowed to fly to Russia from London without British residence permit. We strongly advise to check beforehand with the respective airline, whether you fall under one of these exceptions. Needless to say that you should have a valid travel document and a visa (unless you can go to Russia on visa-free basis). The most frequent exceptions are as follows.
1. Accredited or appointed employees of diplomatic missions and consular offices of foreign states in the Russian Federation, international organizations and their missions, other official missions of foreign states in the Russian Federation, officials of the Permanent Committee of the Union State, as well as family members of persons mentioned above, truck drivers, crew members of air, sea and river vessels, train and locomotive brigades of international railway, personnel determined by international agreements of the Russian Federation in the area of the railway transport, the members of official delegations
2.Persons, holding diplomatic and service or private visas issued due to the close relative’s death, as well as private visas issued by the decision of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia.
3. Citizens of countries, having the right to travel to the Russian Federation on visa-free basis in accordance with international agreements, who are entering Russia as diplomatic couriers or in connection with the death of a close relative (spouse, parent, children, adoptive parent and children) tutor or guardian. They should provide a copy of the death certificate and a document confirming family relationship with the deceased (a certificate of birth, certificate of marriage and etc.).
4. Persons, who are the family members (spouse, parents, children, adoptive parents and children), tutors and guardians of citizens of the Russian Federation, They should provide a copy of the document confirming the family relationship (a certificate of birth, certificate of marriage and etc.)
5. Persons, permanently residing in the Russian Federation (except for the persons specified in the paragraph 13 of section 2 of the Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 763-r dated March 27, 2020), and also those who transit the Russian Federation through air checkpoints staying in the airport.
6. Persons and their family members participating to the State Program for the voluntary resettlement to the Russian Federation, holding a certificate of this State Program participant.
7. Persons, going to the Russian Federation for technical maintenance of foreign equipment, listed and approved by the Federal Security Service of Russia and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia.
8. Highly qualified specialists, entering only once the Russian Federation, listed and approved by the Federal Security Service of Russia and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia. They should provide a valid employment contract.
9. Citizens of Ukraine and the stateless persons, permanently residing on the territories of Donetsk and Lugansk regions in Ukraine. In this case, they should hold a Ukrainian passport or an identity document proving their permanent residence in Donetsk or Lugansk regions.
10. Persons, entering the Russian Federation for medical treatment purposes. They should provide documents (or copies) issued by a medical organization, confirming the invitation for treatment with specific terms or documents (copies) issued by the Ministry of Health of Russia.
11. Persons, entering the Russian Federation to nurse seriously ill close relatives (spouse, parents, children, adoptive parents and children), tutors and guardians. They should provide documents (the copies of documents) issued by a medical organization and confirming family relationship.
12. Highly qualified specialists in the field of sport listed and approved by the Ministry of Sport of Russia, the Federal Security Service of Russia, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia and Russian Aviation Agency. They should have working visas or humanitarian visas for sports relations or a visa-free status in accordance with the international agreements of the Russian Federation.
13. Family members (spouses, parents, children, adoptive parents, adopted) of highly qualified specialists in the field of sports, as well as family members (spouses, parents, children, adoptive parents, adopted children) of persons participating in sports events on the territory of the Russian Federation, included in the list (indicating the checkpoint across the state border of the Russian Federation and the date of entry ), sent by the Ministry of Sports of Russia to the Federal Security Service of Russia, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia and the Federal Air Transport Agency, provided that the indicated persons present a travel document with respective visa.
05.10.2021 – Additional information on the private visa
Applying for a single-, double- or multiple-entry private visa to close relatives of minor Russian nationals is possible upon the submission of an application form of one of the parents (Russian national) on behalf of the child.
30.09.2021 – Changing operational hours of the Visa Centre in Manchester
Due to the increase of Russian visa applications the Visa Centre in Manchester will extend its working hours from 1 October. Submission of documents will be possible from Monday to Friday between 8.30 and 16.00.
27.09.2021 – Irish citizens in the UK need a residence document for Russian visa application
We would like to remind you that in accordance with the current rules of entry to the Russian Federation all non-UK citizens applying for a visa to Russia need a residence permit or another Home Office document, confirming the right of permanent residence in the UK.
17.09.2021 – Some features of the private visa
When parents of a Russian child are not married, the foreign parent can also apply for a single-, double- or multiple-entry private visa upon a written invitation of the second parent (Russian national).
16.09.2021 – Working hours of the Visa Center
Visa center opening hours changed.
08.09.2021 – Multiple-entry private visas to close relatives
According to the last amendments to the visa regulations from 1 September 2021 it is possible to apply for a multiple-entry private visa to close relatives of Russian nationals for up to 1 year
07.09.2021 – Multiple-entry tourist visas
Since 25 August 2021 amendments to Article 25.6 of the Federal Law “On the procedure for leaving the Russian Federation and entering the Russian Federation” entered into force. Now a single or double-entry tourist visa for up to 3 months or a multiple-entry tourist visa for up to 6 months can be issued on the basis of the tourist В«ConfirmationВ» (which goes along with the В«VoucherВ»).
03.09.2021 – Lifting the 14-days isolation for passengers arriving from the UK
The isolation for those arriving to Russia from the UK is no longer required.
02.09.2021 – The regions of the Russian Federation
We are happy to bring to the attention of our visitors some information on different regions of the Russian Federation.
19.08.2021 – On entering into force of the Agreement between Russia and Togolese Republic.
The Agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Togolese Republic on conditions of the waiver of visa requirements for holders of Russian and Togoles diplomatic and service passports is entering into force.
E-Visas to Russia are available to citizens of 52 countries,
as of January 2021
! Due to the current unprecedented situation with COVID-19 and the restrictions on entry to the Russian Federation still in force, the e-visa will not be available yet from 1 January 2021.
Citizens of 52 countries can be granted electronic visas to Russia, starting from January 2021. The list of countries was signed by the Russian Prime Minister on 7 October 2020.
UK nationals will still have to obtain a visa prior to travelling to Russia.
Who can travel to Russia with an electronic visa?
List of countries whose citizens can apply for an e-visa to Russia:
Places in Russia which can be visited with an e-visa
Citizens of the listed countries can visit Russia without any geographical limitations, as of January 2021. An electronic visa gives the right to arrive at any border control point in any Russian region and travel anywhere across the country for up to 16 days.
Number of days you are allowed to stay on an electronic visa
Extending the list of eligible countries
Other information about e-visas to Russia
- E-visas let you stay for up to 16 days. The date of arrival and date of departure from Russia are counted as whole days. For example: if you arrive on 1 January 2022 at 10.00pm, you must leave the country by 16 January by 11.59 pm.
- An e-visa is valid for 30 days from the date of approval. You must leave the country by the last date of visa validity, even if your stay is less than 16 days.
- The e-visa cannot be extended or renewed from Russia.
- The e-visa can have the following purpose of entry: tourist, business, humanitarian (cultural relations). If your purpose of travel is different, you must obtain a normal visa before travelling.
- E-visas are normally issued within 4 days.
- An application for an e-visa can be submitted not earlier than 20 days before the date of travel, but no later than 4 days before the date of entry.
- If your passport is missing your date of birth, you need to obtain a normal visa before travelling.
- All children travelling with parents must have their own e-visas before travelling.
- Your passport must be valid for 6 months minimum from the date of travel to apply for a Russian e-visa.
- All travellers arriving on e-visas to Russia must be in possession of a valid travel insurance certificate for the whole period of stay.
- You cannot combine normal and e-visas to extend the validity of your normal visa.
- E-visas will not guarantee entry to the Russian Federation. The border control will carry out standard checks and interviews for all visitors arriving in Russia.
List of 29 checkpoints (border crossing locations) approved for e-Visa holders:
Airports approved for Russian electronic visa entry:
- Belgorod International Airport
- Volgograd International Airport
- Yekaterinburg Koltsovo International Airport
- Kazan International Airport
- Krasnodar International Airport (Pashkovsky Airport)
- Krasnoyarsk International Airport
- MoscowVnukovo International Airport
- MoscowDomodedovo Airport
- Moscow Sheremetyevo Alexander S. Pushkin International Airport
- Nizhny Novgorod Strigino International Airport
- Novosibirsk Tolmachevo Airport
- Rostov-on-Don Platov International Airport
- Samara Kurumoch International Airport
- St Petersburg Pulkovo Airport
Railway border control checkpoints approved for Russian electronic visa entry:
- Kaliningrad Region Pogranichny
- Khasan, Primorsky Krai
Maritime (seaports) border control checkpoints approved for Russian electronic visa entry:
- St Petersburg – Marine Station (Big Port)
- Passenger Port of St Petersburg
Land (road, by car, bus etc) border control checkpoints approved for Russian electronic visa entry:
- Bagrationovsk (Kaliningrad Region)
- Gusev (Kaliningrad Region)
- Ivangorod (Leningrad Region)
- Mamonovo Grzechotki (Kaliningrad Region)
- Mamonovo Gronovo (Kaliningrad Region)
- Morskoe (Morskoje) (Kaliningrad Region)
- Sovetsk (Kaliningrad Region)
- Ubylinka (Pskov Region)
Land (on foot) border control checkpoints approved for Russian electronic visa entry:
- Ivangorod border crossing point
Electronic visa rules for Russia until 1 January 2021 – the “pilot project”
Due to Coronavirus travel restrictions, electronic visas are not being processed from 18 March 2020.
Electronic visas to Russia are currently operated only when travelling to the Kaliningrad Region, Far Eastern Federal District, St Petersburg and the Leningrad Region.
An electronic visa is issued for a single entry (tourism, business or a humanitarian visit) for a maximum stay of 8 days.
E-visas to St Petersburg and the Leningrad Region
Starting from 1 October 2019, nationals of 53 foreign States are granted an e-visa to enter the Russian Federation through air, sea, automobile and pedestrian checkpoints located in the territory of Saint Petersburg and the Leningrad region.
An e-visa is valid for entry into and exit from the Russian Federation only through the following State border crossing points of the Russian Federation located in the territory of Saint Petersburg and the Leningrad region:
- St Petersburg (Pulkovo)
- Big port of St Petersburg (Marine station section)
- Passenger port St Petersburg
PLEASE NOTE: Entry and exit on an e-visa using rail transport is currently unavailable.
An e-visa is issued within 4 calendar days, including weekends and Bank holidays.
There is no need for any invitations or confirmations. Just fill in the application form on the website.
There is no need to waste your free time or working hours visiting the consular agency during its business hours. The website works 24/7.
List of foreign States whose nationals can apply for an e-visa:
- China (including Taiwan)
- The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
- San Marino
- Saudi Arabia
- North Macedonia
- Czech Republic
If you have any specific questions on the subject, please ring our advisers on 0207 985 1234.
E-visas to the Kaliningrad Region
Electronic Russian visas can be granted to nationals of 53 countries (see list below) to enter Russia through the particular border crossing points located in Kaliningrad by direct flight to Kaliningrad (but not via another Russian airport), by sea, railway or road. These include all EU member states, except the United Kingdom. An e-visa does not allow travel to other regions of Russia.
The visa is issued within 4 calendar days, including weekends and Bank holidays.
List of countries eligible for electronic visas to the Kaliningrad Region:
- China (including Taiwan)
- The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
- San Marino
- Saudi Arabia
- Northern Macedonia
- Czech Republic
Crossing points in the Kaliningrad region with an e-visa
- Kaliningrad (Khrabrovo Airport)
- Kaliningrad (Baltiysk)
- Kaliningrad (Svetly)
- Mamonovo (Gzhekhotki)
- Mamonovo (Gronovo)
E-visas to the Far Eastern Federal District (Vladivostok)
List of countries eligible for electronic visas to the Kaliningrad Region:
- North Korea
- Saudi Arabia
- United Arab Emirates
Crossing points in the Far Eastern Federal District region with an e-visa
- Vladivostok (Knevichi)
- Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky (Yelizovo)
- Blagoveshchensk Khabarovsk (Novy)
- Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk (Khomutovo)
- Anadyr (Ugolny)
- Ulan-Ude (Muhino)
- Chita (Kadala)
Russian business visa for foreigners
Getting a business visa to the Russian Federation for foreigners
A business visa to the Russian Federation for foreigners is a popular choice, as it opens up more opportunities compared to tourist or private visas.
We issue business invitations in two ways:
- Through the Department of issuing invitations to foreign citizens at the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation on behalf of our company accredited with the department;
- By assisting the client’s company in obtaining registration with the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, followed by issuing invitations directly on its behalf.
Invitations issued in any of these two ways are guaranteed to be accepted in all Russian consulates abroad as the grounds for a business visa.
The costs and terms of a getting a commercial invitation for foreigners.
Business invitations for citizens of the countries with a low immigration risk
List of countries
Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan (Republic of China), the Netherlands, USA, Vatican.
|Telex MIA||URGENT Telex MIA|
|Single or Double entry|
|1 month||17-20 business days||8-9 business days|
|3 months||17-20 business days||8-9 business days|
|6 months||17-20 business days||13-14 business days|
|1 year||17-20 business days||13-14 business days|
Business visa application
Business invitations for citizens of countries with high risk of immigration
Category 1 countries (telex)
List of countries
Albania, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Brunei, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Georgia, Grenada, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Maldives, Marshalls Islands, Oman, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, UAE.
|Single or double entry|
|1 months||17 business days
8-9 business days
|3 months||17 business days
8-9 business days
|6 months||21 business days
13-14 business days
|1 year||21 business days
13-14 business days
Get a business invitation
Validity periods of Russian business visas
The main advantage of getting a business visa to Russia is its validity period – it can be issued for a period of up to one year, but has a standard restriction: the actual period of stay of a foreigner on the territory of the Russian Federation can be no longer than 90 days within a 180-day period. In addition, an important parameter is the possible number of entries during the period of validity of the visa. The business visa can be:
- Single-entry valid for 1 month or 3 months;
- Double-entry valid for 1 month or 3 months;
- Multiple entry valid for up to 1 year period.
You need a business visa to Russia if:
- The purpose of a trip is a business visit to the Russian Federation – negotiations, contracts signing, participation in exhibitions, conferences or other meetings and events of a business nature;
- Foreign specialists are being invited as consulting experts when installing or maintaining imported equipment installed on the territory of the Russian Federation;
- A foreign citizen who already has a business visa has to take their family members with them;
- You are a foreign citizen who plans to stay on the territory of the Russian Federation for more than one month, or simply wants to be able to enter the territory of the Russian Federation more than once. It is possible to issue a commercial invitation, even if the foreigner does not yet have an invitation from a company in the Russian Federation, since we can also arrange the invitation on our own behalf.
Getting a business visa to the Russian Federation
Overall, the process of obtaining a business visa to Russia is not very different from the procedure for obtaining other types of Russian visas, and consists of the following steps:
Step I. Getting a business invitation
A business invitation to Russia is a mandatory document for obtaining a business visa. A business invitation to the Russian Federation can be issued in electronic form (telex). Unlike the hard copy, a digital invitation or a telex does not require sending any documents by mail, instead, it is sent directly to the consulate in electronic form as soon as all checks are completed and it is ready. Upon sending the electronic invitation, we will send you an e-mail with the information about the telex, which will contain the telex number and the date when the telex arrives at the consulate. This information must be included in the form for obtaining a business visa.
Step II. Applying for a Russian business visa at the Russian Consulate.
You have to consult the consular office of the Russian Federation or their official website for the full information about the necessary documents, the time of processing a visa, and the size of the visa fee. In order for to receive a business visa to the Russian Federation, the following set of documents must be provided:
- business invitation issued by a company located on the territory of the Russian Federation;
- completed application form from the official website of the consulate;
In addition, at the consulate, when issuing a business visa, documents such as a cover letter issued by the inviting company may be requested. It is not uncommon for foreigners to apply for a business visa to Russia in a country that is not the country of their citizenship. Remember, that a foreign citizen has the right to apply for a Russian business visa at any Russian consulate outside the Russian Federation. In this case, however, in a number of countries, they would be required to provide a documented permit for continued residence in the state of application for more than 90 days.
Sample commercial (business) visa to Russia
Stage III. Register your business visa upon entering the Russian Federation
After obtaining your business visa, you need to take care of the registration. Under the current law, foreign citizens are required to register at the place of their residence within 7 working days, not counting the entry day. It is important to note that if you have a multiple-entry business visa, you will have to register every time after you cross the border.
A business visa to Russia for foreigners is the most convenient type of visa to obtain, because it has a wide range of features. We make different types of invitations for obtaining a business visa to the Russian Federation for foreign citizens and assist them in the registration.
Russian visa policy in 2021 or how to visit Russia without a visa?
Planning to visit Russia and not sure where to start? Read this post about the Russian visa policy in 2021 and how to visit Russia without a visa.
This post was originally written in 2016, but I updated it very recently according to the new information and new Russian visa updates in 2020. All the information is correct on the moment of the update, however, as everything is changing rapidly nowadays, it always makes sense to check and verify the information with the visa centre/embassy.
If you’re new to this blog, hi, I’m Liza. I was born and raised in beautiful St. Petersburg, Russia and in the last 4 years of blogging, I created over 40 articles about travel to Russia, from the transport guides to the safety tips! Click here to access all the Russia posts >>>
This post’s overview:
Is it hard to get the Russian visa in 2021?
Russia is a very beautiful and interesting country with a rich culture and history. However, after 1918 it got kind of closed to the world and only reopened in 1991 after the USSR collapsed. Even though there’s no cold war anymore, it’s still not that easy to get a visa to Russia in 2019, however, more and more countries don’t need a visa to visit Russia anymore.
If you’re from the EU, USA, Canada, Australia etc, you probably need a visa to Russia. Most of Asia and South America can visit Russia visa free for almost 3 months.
However, there’s actually a way to visit Russia without a visa in 2021 and it applies to holders of any passports. Stay tuned, I will tell you about this just a bit later.
So is it actually hard to get a visa to Russia in 2020? Not really – all you need to do is to go to the Russian visa centre after filling out a visa form, get a special voucher (aka invitation – you just pay for it extra), pay the visa fee, let them take your fingerprints scans (only applies to certain countries) and wait for your visa.
If you’re applying from the UK, your Russian visa centre is this one.
Russian visa policy – getting Russian visa in 2021
Whether you need a visa to visit Russia in 2021 or not, depends on your nationality. If you hold a passport of the following countries, you’re lucky and you don’t need a visa for Russia:
Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hong Kong, Israel, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Macao, Mauritius, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nicaragua, Nauru, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Samoa, Serbia, Seychelles, South Korea, St. Kitts and Nevis, South Africa, Suriname, Thailand, Tajikistan, UAE, Ukraine, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela.
In all other cases, you do need to apply for the Russian visa beforehand.
If you don’t want to deal with a visa centre, you can apply through an agency. If you pay extra, you don’t even need to fill your papers – the agency will do that for you. The agency will issue you a travel voucher which allows you to visit Russia. So you wait for a week or two and here you are – your visa is ready to collect.
However, if you want to apply yourself, you need to do the following:
1 – Find the closest visa centre to your place of residence
2 – Buy a travel voucher (can also be obtained from the hotel you booked – just drop them a line asking for the voucher, and they gonna send it to you).
3 – Buy good travel insurance for Russia – it’s one of the visa requirements
4 – Get a passport size photograph
5 – Bank statements for proof of residence in the country, where you are currently residing
6 – Fill online application form https://visa.kdmid.ru/PetitionChoice.aspx (some of the previous docs are needed to fill the application)
7 – Bring all the documents to the visa application centre, go through finger scanning procedure & photo taking
8 – wait 1-3 weeks
In case, you have some friends who could invite you officially, you can save a bit of money, but keep in mind that it’s a lot of paperwork for your friends. In this case, you don’t need a voucher from an agency or a hotel reservation. And you also have a chance to get a visa for 3 months instead of just one month.
None of my friends or people I know were refused Russian visa, so don’t worry about that and good luck! However, if you’re going to Helsinki or Tallinn anytime soon, don’t forget about the amazing opportunity of visiting Russia without needing to obtain a visa to Russia!
eVisa to Russia in 2021?
There’s a lot of talk going on regarding the possibility of obtaining an eVisa to Russia. Recently, a new pilot version of the eVisa to Vladivostok, Kaliningrad and St. Petersburg was introduced for the citizens of certain countries. This visa is free and it takes up to 4 days to get it (online).
However, if you’re from one of these countries listed below, you can now visit Vladivostok with an eVisa:
Algeria, Bahrain, Mexico, Brunei, India, Iran, Qatar, China, North Korea, Kuwait, Morocco, UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Tunisia, Turkey and Japan.
In the case of St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad, it’s these countries plus the entire EU (excluding the UK).
How to visit Russia without a visa?
Did you know that you can visit Russia without visa for 72 hours no matter which passport do you hold?
This rule applies to the entries by ferry from Helsinki or Tallinn to Saint Petersburg only. Or to transit entries to Kaliningrad. There are also other ports like Anadyr, Kaliningrad, Novorossiysk, Sevastopol, Sochi and Vladivostok, but I guess, St. Petersburg is the easiest option!
In other words, you have to go to Finland or Estonia, buy a ferry ticket to Saint Petersburg with the cruise company called St. Peter Line and decide what you are going to do there within these 72 hours! Not bad, huh?
Below, I will tell you what can you do during 72 hours in Russia without a visa!
72 hours in Russia without a visa
As I already mentioned before, you can spend 72 hours in Russia without having to obtain a visa. Most probably, you will only be able to visit St. Petersburg, however, it is technically possible to visit Moscow too. Just buy a speed train ticket, so the journey to Moscow takes only 4 hours or a flight (which is around 1-hour long).
Attention: you also need to hold a hotel reservation, when you enter Russia and that’s quite a strict rule.
Personally, I would recommend you to stay in St. Petersburg only and see the city properly (anyways, you won’t be able to see everything since the city is huge and beautiful; moreover, it has many suburbs with fabulous palaces).
I hope you enjoyed this post about the visa to Russia in 2019. In case you’re interested, I do have a lot of other posts about Russia >>>
Updates on temporary migration measures during pandemic in Russia
Following the closure of borders and quarantine measures under Presidential Decree No. 274 dated April 18, 2020 introducing temporary measures to regulate the legal status of foreign nationals and stateless persons in the Russian Federation due to the threat of the further spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), the Ministry of Internal Affairs has taken measures to regulate the legal status of foreign nationals residing in Russia.
- Updates from May 25, 2020
Clarifications provided by the Ministry of Internal Affairs on 22.05.2020 (in Russian)
- Updates from June 5, 2020
Additional clarifications provided by the Ministry of Internal Affairs (in Russian)
- Updates from June 16, 2020
1. New Presidential Decree (RU) prolongs the measures from the Decree No. 274 until September 15-th and changes some of the requirements for patents and work permits.
2. Additional clarifications provided by the Ministry of Internal Affairs (in Russian)
- Updates from June 26, 2020
A new decree has been adopted. Highly qualified specialists are allowed single entry, and visa invitations and work permits may be issued to foreign nationals outside the Russian Federation subject to certain conditions.
- Updates from September 03, 2020
Answers to frequently asked questions have been posted on the website of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
- Updates from September 23, 2020
New Presidential Decree (RU) prolongs some of the measures from the Decree No. 274 until December 15-th.
- Updates from December 15, 2020 :
A new Presidential decree (RU) has been issued.
- Updates from December 17, 2020 :
New clarifications by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
- Update as of May 20, 2021 : New government decree with major changes in entry restrictions and visa/stay permit restrictions has been issued. We are analyzing the changes. Download PDF with recognized text.
Russia border crossing
Foreign nationals (with a few exceptions) cannot enter the Russian Federation for an indefinite period (Russian Government Decree), and foreigners for whom an exception is made also experience significant difficulties due to the cancellation of most transport links between countries.
Updates from June 09, 2020 : Russian Government eases restrictions on entry and exit from the country
Updates from June 26, 2020 : Highly qualified specialists are allowed single entry into Russia based on a list that federal authorities should send to the Federal Security Service and the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The date of arrival and the checkpoint through which highly qualified specialists plan to enter the country must be specified. In addition to their passport and visa (if a visa is required for entry), highly qualified specialists must also have with them a valid employment contract or services agreement. August 27, 2020 : Entry procedure for Highly Qualified Specialists during the period of restrictions related to COVID-19
Updates from July 27, 2020 : A decree has been issued to remove entry restrictions through air checkpoints as well as restrictions on the issuance of visas to citizens from Great Britain, Tanzania, Turkey, Switzerland ( September 02, 2020 Egypt, Maldives and UAE (government decree), September 20, 2020 Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, South Korea (government decree)) and citizens of other countries entitled to permanent residence in these four countries entering the Russian Federation from these four countries. Entry restrictions have been removed for Abkhazia ( August 01, 2020 ) and South Ossetia ( September 12, 2020 ).
September 23, 2020 : Foreign nationals have been allowed since September 16, 2020 to exit the Russian Federation to go to their own country (without transit through other countries) with identity documents (provided they are recognized as such in the Russian Federation) that have expired after March 14, 2020. This means that if the passport of a foreign national (or other identity document) has expired after March 14, 2020 and has not be renewed in the Russian Federation, the foreign national holding such passport must urgently leave the Russian Federation or apply for a new passport through the relevant consulate.
Extension of document validity – Foreign nationals in the Russian Federation
Foreign nationals who are already in the Russian Federation and cannot leave the country due to border closure.
Immigration cards, visas, temporary residence permits, permanent residence permits and other documents that have expired or will expire between March 15 and
June September December June 15, 202 1 , except for work permits, patents, and authorizations to hire foreign nationals ( June 16, 2020; September 23, 2020; December 15, 2020 ).
Updates from June 16, 2020 : The work permit, PHP and patent of foreign nationals and stateless persons expiring after June 15, 2020 will not be extended, so these documents will need to be issued (renewed) by applying to migration authorities as usual although it will not be necessary to meet the following requirements:
- People that have arrived in Russia on a visa-free basis will be able to apply for (extend) their patent regardless of the deadline for submitting documents for their processing and regardless of the requirements for purpose of entry and exit from the Russian Federation;
- Employers with a valid authorization to hire foreign nationals will be able to apply for (extend) the work permit of their employees that have arrived in Russia on a visa basis regardless of the requirements for purpose of entry for any period until
September DecemberJune 15, 202 1 inclusive ( September 23, 2020; December 15, 2020 ).
So, work permits, patents, and authorizations to hire foreign nationals expiring after June 15, 2020 are not extended and need to be re-issued/extended. From June 16, employers do not have the right to hire foreign nationals without valid documents as mentioned above. The validity terms of the other documents listed in Decree No. 274 are extended until
September December June 15, 202 1 ( September 23, 2020; December 15, 2020 ).
Updates from September 03, 2020 : According to new clarifications provided by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, in case of expiration of the validity period of temporary stay, visa, registration at the place of stay and residence, passport, and temporary residence permit, these documents are automatically extended for 185 days, and there is no need to apply to the Ministry of Internal Affairs to extend the validity period of these documents. It will also be possible to apply for permanent residence permits within 185 days of the expiry date of temporary residence permits.
Update December 15, 2020 : If regular transport link (excluding evacuation flights) was resumed with a particular country on December 15, 2020, then the validity of the documents of the foreign nationals from that country has been extended by 90 days, so not until June 15, 2021 but until March 15, 2021. If regular transport link is resumed with a particular between December 15, 2020 and June 15, 2021, then the validity of the documents of the foreign nationals from that country will be automatically extended by 90 days from the date of travel resumption. This rule does not apply to participants in state programs. Current list of countries with which transport link has been resumed with document renewal dates. All foreign nationals who can enter the country visa-free are entitled to apply for a patent, patent extension, or patent re-issuance regardless of the deadline for submission of documents and the declared purpose of entry and exit from the Russian Federation.
How to extend/renew documents?
If any of these documents expire between March 15 and June 15, 2020, they are automatically extended free of charge for 93 days from their expiration date. Local authorities continue working and are open as usual. They accept documents and provide advice subject to quarantine measures and restrictions imposed in your region.
Updates from June 16, 2020 : The validity of these documents will also be extended automatically between June 16 and
September December June 15 202 1 ( September 23, 2020; December 15, 2020 ) (except for the documents listed in Decree No. 392, namely patents, work permits and authorizations to hire foreign nationals). The procedure for obtaining patents has been simplified for foreign nationals in Russia on a visa-free basis. Patents will now be issued regardless of visit purpose requirements and regardless of the deadlines for submitting documents and leaving the Russian Federation. In addition, from June 16, 2020 onwards, the appropriate amount of advance payments for personal income tax should be paid for patents.
Document cancellation for foreign nationals who have left the Russian Federation
The law provides that many documents (e.g. temporary residence permits, permanent residence permits, work permits, etc.) are cancelled if foreign nationals leave the Russian Federation for more than six months. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this rule is suspended until
June September December June 15, 202 1 ( June 16, 2020; September 23, 2020 ) for work permits, temporary residence permits, permanent residence permits, certificates of state program participants, visas, and patents.
Deferred procedures. If they were decided before March 15, 2020, expulsion, deportation, readmission, withdrawal of refugee status or temporary asylum, cancellation of documents (visas, temporary residence permits, permanent residence permits, etc.) will not go ahead or will be temporarily suspended.
September 23, 2020 : The deadlines for voluntary departure from the Russian Federation for foreign nationals and stateless persons subject to administrative expulsion from the Russian Federation, foreign nationals and stateless persons who have not been authorized to enter the Russian Federation, or who are deemed not desirable to stay (live) in the Russian Federation have been suspended since September 16, 2020 (Item 1(c) Decree). This means that from September 16 onwards foreign nationals and stateless persons may be deported from the Russian Federation in other ways (for example, court decision) except for voluntary departure from the Russian Federation.
Since September 16, no decisions have been adopted for forced administrative expulsion from the Russian Federation, for deportation or transfer to another country under the international treaty of the Russian Federation on readmission, as well as decisions reducing the period of temporary stay in the Russian Federation, denying refugee status, temporary asylum, canceling previously issued visas, work permits, patents, temporary residence permits, residence permits, certificates of state program participants issued for foreign nationals and stateless persons
(except for foreign nationals and stateless persons released from imprisonment or in breach of Russian state border laws, or posing a threat to the national security of the Russian Federation, including those advocating a violent change in the foundations of the constitutional system of the Russian Federation, or helping with the commission of terrorist (extremist) acts or committing them, as well as other actions supporting terrorist (extremist) activities) (Item 2(b) Decree). Update December 15, 2020 : People “who do not respect public order and public safety, including those participating in unauthorized meetings, demonstrations, marches, and picketing” have been added in the special categories of individuals on whom any relevant decisions may be imposed (expulsion, deportation, etc.) We recommend foreign nationals to follow the news and avoid places where the aforementioned events are held to prevent any accidental recognition as participants in such events which would entail the subsequent application of abovementioned sanctions.
So, since September 16:
- Decisions on undesirability of stay (residence) may be adopted, and foreign nationals that are deemed undesirable may even be expelled from the Russian Federation by court decision;
- Some exceptions have been made for special categories of citizens for whom any relevant decisions may be adopted.
Easing of some requirements for employers hiring foreign nationals
Employers and customers of goods and services ( December 15, 2020 ) are entitled to hire foreign nationals without work permits and patents from March 15 to June 15, 202 1 inclusive provided they have a valid authorization to hire foreign nationals.
From June 16, 2020 onwards, employers must apply for (renew) these documents as usual if they expire after June 15, 2020 ( December 15, 2020 ). They also must comply with the restrictions and other measures put in place for public sanitation and disease control purposes.
Updates from June 16, 2020 : Work permits will be issued (or renewed) until
September December June 15 , 202 1 ( September 23, 2020; December 15, 2020 ) inclusive to foreign nationals that are in the Russian Federation on a visa basis regardless of visit purpose requirements. In such case, employers must have an authorization to hire foreign nationals and comply with all restrictions as well as take the necessary measures for safe resumption of work. For more detailed information on the requirements for organization of work, read our article on resuming work after the end of non-working day period.
Update July 16, 2020 : The Government has approved amendments to the Russian Tax Code providing that in 2020 individuals are to retain their right to remain tax residents of the Russian Federation provided that they actually stayed in the Russian Federation between 90 and 182 calendar days inclusive in the period from January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020. To obtain the status of Russian tax resident, an application must be submitted to the local office of the Federal Tax Service at the place of permanent or temporary residence. We recommend drawing up this application as follows: “I hereby request the status of tax resident for 2020 in compliance with Article 207(2.2) of the Russian Tax Code.” Full name and taxpayer identification number (INN) must also be indicated. We also recommend specifying the date of entry to the Russian Federation and providing with the application documents confirming that you stayed in the Russian Federation for more than 90 days in 2020 (for example, a copy of all pages of your passport stamped by the border service). We recommend going to the Federal Tax Service with two copies of the application and getting the copy that you keep with you stamped by the Federal Tax Service. This way, in case of delay from the Federal Tax Service, you will have proof that your application was made within the timeframe set out by the Russian Tax Code. Applications must be submitted by April 30, 2021 (Article 229(1) Russian Tax Code)