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Russian visa

Old Jan 9th, 2010, 01:52 PM
  #1  
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Russian visa

We may have the opportunity to visit St. Petersburg and see the Hermitage Museum.

I know getting a Russian visa is a challenge, and it is more of a challenge since we will be using our passports for February and March, and want to visit St. Petersburg in July. When I search online for information, I find a large number of companies that say they will make the arrangements for a healthy fee. I went to the website of the Russian Consular service, thinking I might attempt to get the visa without assistance. I may be misreading it, but the Consular service seems to say that I have to take the application and documents to one of their four consulates, personally pick them up when notified, and personally pick up the passport with the visa once it is finalized, and they seem to say they can do this within a month, but there are no guarantees. I can't tell if this is two or three trips, but even two would add a lot to the cost for those of us who do not live near a consulate.

So I am asking for advice on whether to use an agency, or to try and do it myself, and which agencies are reliable.

All my early research indicates that this is going to be a very expensive trip. The only reasonably priced item I have found so far is a two-day pass for the museum at about $25; not bad when you look through their catalogue and see all that they offer.
clevelandbrown is offline  
Old Jan 9th, 2010, 02:09 PM
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That's what we found too. When we were preparing to go, the reason we were "short notice" is that we didn't know exactly when we were going to have to be there until a few weeks before. The services essentially are there for the reason you're finding. They can be there at the consulate when you can't and act as your proxy.

We used www.go-russia.com, which we'd use again... but chose them partly because they also specialize in representing apartments in Russia. The visa was a separate service and we'd use them again for either type of service.
Clifton is offline  
Old Jan 9th, 2010, 02:09 PM
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Recommend reading this for info on travel to Russia: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntre...readID=1138063

I believe the requirement for US citizens to apply in person is because the US requires people applying for US visas to do so in person. I forget which agency I used for Russia - either travisa.com or www.us.cibt.com .
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Jan 9th, 2010, 02:32 PM
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Not sure the motivation the Russian gov't has for requiring it, but my wife (in person or by proxy), who wasn't a US citizen at the time, had to go through the same method with her Australian passport.

One thing worth mentioning is the "letter of invitation", which is a rather obscure extra step needed for the visa. By all accounts, you have to have some written indication/proof that someone has invited you to Russia. It can a family member or friend or it can even be a hotel (something associated with where you'll supposedly be staying). The visa services take care of getting you one of these too - they sort of become the one issuing or arranging the invitation.
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Old Jan 10th, 2010, 12:42 PM
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Here in Europe, we usually employ a travel agency which is experienced in dealing with Russian visas. It usually takes three or four days to get the Visa. The TA provides the letter of invitation. All is done by mail. But we are not Americans.
Echnaton is offline  
Old Jan 10th, 2010, 04:08 PM
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Wish you were Canadian, for our processes for obtaining a Rusian visa are much easier ! We have special agencies here that do everything for you : help you fill the online forms, take your photo, arrange the invitation, send your passport to the consulate in Ottawa and finally courier it back to you, if you choose that method of return. A ten day visa cost me around C$ 160.00 last October. They said it would take 2 weeks but I had my passport back in my hands in 11 days.

I definitely recomend the 2 day Hermitage pass that you can order online. In 2 or 3 days after ordering you will receive a confirmation voucher by e-mail with a bar code. Print that out and take it with you on the day you visit. You will skip all the line-ups of people waiting outside to buy tickets, enter through the building immediately and be directed to a reception desk. Your bar code will be scanned, your ID verified (note your ID must exactly match your name as you booked your ticket) and you will be issued with 2 paper tickets : one for 'Day One' and the other for 'Day Two'. The turnstiles to enter the museum are about 10 feet away from here. Most efficient and easiest way in.
Mathieu is offline  
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