If you live in France and want to travel to Russia, it may be worthwhile paying through the nose to have an agency get your visa for you. This is my sad conclusion after trying to get a tourist visa for an upcoming trip to Moscow. As I always do when applying for a visa, I printed out and very carefully followed the instructions on the website of the Russian Embassy .. assembled all the requested documents... and arrived a few minutes before the embassy opened. All to no avail. On my first visit, there were already several dozen people ahead of me in line... after 2 hours in the rain and cold I was still outside, and the guards announced that they were not accepting any more applications that day. Returning the next day -- much earlier -- I managed to get inside after only an hour's wait. However, the clerk refused to accept the application because, among other things, I had not submitted a duplicate of the application form (even though the website said only one copy was needed), the official invitation from my Moscow hotel did not include the exact job title of the person who had signed it, and ... my personal favorite, the white border around my photo was not the exact same width on every side (and no, of course they would not let me use a pair of scissors). I hasten to add that not all Russian embassies are this bad: I have gotten visas previously from their embassies in the U.S. and Finland, and British friends who will be traveling with me got visas in London with no difficulty. Unfortunately for us Parisians, the apparatchiks here seem to have been trained at the Franz Kafka School of Tourism.
Getting a Russian visa in Paris (or trying to!)
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