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WTnow Jan 7th, 2008 10:55 AM

American getting visa for Russia in Europe
We still want to go to Russia, but I need to know what is the easiest way for an American family to get a visa to Russia ( from Europe).

I just want a short trip into see Moscow & St Petes, as I have seen a lot of Russia. I just want to show the highlites to family and visit a friend in St Pete.

We will be going to the UK & Scandinavia this year, so I was guessing these would be good possible places to enter.

Any ideas on how to do this or where to find this info?

I am looking for the easiest way to do this and prefer a budget way if at all possible.

thursdaysd Jan 7th, 2008 11:06 AM

Suggest you take a look at the Russian embassy websites for the countries you will be visiting, e.g.

Odin Jan 7th, 2008 11:12 AM

It's better to apply for the Russian visas in the US, if you are US nationals:-

Each person in the family will need their own visa. You put the details of the itinerary on the application form.

lincasanova Jan 7th, 2008 12:14 PM

i am an american living in spain and i got my russian visa here in spain,of course, not in the USA.

I had understood from the russian embassy that i could get it myself with the sponsorship of my receiving hotel and proof of stay from them. so i took off to madrid to do it myself and save the high fees travel agencies were charging.

well.. i stood in line for a loooong time, only to be told that our particular hotel (a holiday inn) could not sponsor us.

so they FINALLY gave me a slip of paper with the name of a russian travel agency that does group tours to russia.

they included us in one of their groups (technically,) applied and charged us their fee for our visas, and then we travelled independently to moscow.

So, if all comes to a dead end, most likely any travel agency dealing in visas and groups to russia should be able to help you.

however, be aware that US citizens pay quite a bit more than europeans, and this agency had some trouble finding out those fees at the moment i was in their office.

WTnow Jan 7th, 2008 12:22 PM

We are not going back to the U.S., thus my question. We are on a multi-year trip around the world. We will probably head to Africa after Europe, then South America.

Thanks Lincasanova. Your experience is very interesting and good to know about.

When did you go as I have heard it has gotten even worse lately? How long did it take you to get it?

Sounds like a big pain.

lincasanova Jan 7th, 2008 12:45 PM

this was a few years ago. it took about three hours in line in the cold in madrid. ( our trip was february, visa request was in january). then two more hours in a chaotic travel agency. almost missed my pre-paid bus back to valencia!!!

this spain info may not have any bearing on any other country´s service.. but i do think that whatever country you find yourself in should be able to clear up the questions.

good luck.

most unnerving was teh way the immigration person in moscow looked over my passport and visa. i was almost afraid it wasn´t authentic.

we had a MARVELOUS time on this trip, and plenty of good laughs at our pre-trip fears, etc.

thursdaysd Jan 7th, 2008 01:22 PM

Hope you're having lots of fun on your trip. The Russian embassy site in London I posted the link for has a special form for US citizens. I also suggest reading the info here: You may find more Russia travelers over there on the LP thorntree, too.

Odin Jan 7th, 2008 03:13 PM

US passport holders who apply for Russian visas outside of the US might have residency status in the country of application eg if they are living abroad. It would be prudent to check this out and hopefully it is not an issue any more.

To save money on the visas, if you book the hotels yourself and they will fax the invitation to you, which you submit with the completed application form,fee, photos and passports. Usually the pages of the passports need to be faxed to the hotel so they can prepare the documents. The lines at the London consulate are usually long.

roussillon Jan 8th, 2008 12:05 AM

In general, the Russian visas are a pain. And I agree that often to get a visa for a US citizen in a third country requires that you be resident there....otherwise they tell you to do it at home.

Anyway, I also agree that the best way is to get the "invitation" by fax from your hotel after booking with them.

What I then have done is Fedex my passport and application to a "visa service" (I have been happy with ) in the US..they usually turn it around in about 3-4 days and Fedex back. Means you will be without your passport for that period so you have to plan accordingly. And keep a photocopy of the key page.

When you add up the visa fees, the courier, the agency fees, it was well over $500 for a pair of visas...

And do NOT think of overstaying the date, even by a day. You go a a blacklist, and will be denied a visa and entry for a period of years afterwards, I was told there by an official!

But it was an eye-opening trip. The oil/gas price bonanza has made the place boom, along with a lot of corruption. Rouss

Matroskin Jan 8th, 2008 01:43 AM

I'm American living in London. On my recent trip to Russia I used They were so efficient and were able to provide all supporting document without me going anywhere. The whole process took two week (I did not use expedite service). They do have their offices in UK, USA and various cities in Russia, including St. Petersburg. If you are staying more than 3 days, you will have to register with local OVIR, but the agency will take care of this as well; you can even pay in advance for the service. Talk to them! Very professional agency! Oh, the total for my tourist visa was 95 GBP including express shipping both ways.

WTnow Jan 8th, 2008 09:13 AM

Thanks all! This is really helpful!!

neeps Jan 17th, 2008 06:57 AM

Be aware that Russian visa rules change October 17 of last year. The new rules state that in order to get a visa in a third country you must legally be able to stay in the third country longer than 90 days. This eliminates most countries in Europe for US tourists. However, the UK allows US tourists to stay for 180 days (the UK government is changing this soon, if they haven't already).

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