* As needed for tours to the North Caucasus, Abkhazia & South Ossetia with Political Holidays
How to Get a Russian Visa
It generally takes between 3-10 business days to get a Russian Visa, but if you mention the Caucasus region as your destination it can take up to 1 month.
In general, the consulate or Russian visa center will require you to provide an invitation letter (2 documents: Voucher and Confirmation) issued by your tour operator.
For Which Tours Will I Need a Russian Visa?
Political Holidays offers a few different tours in which most of out travellers will need to enter the territory of the Russian Federation.
Citizens of the USA, Canada, the EU, Australia and New Zealand will need a Russian Visa to enter Russia.
Tours to the North Caucasus (Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan & North Ossetia) will require regular single-entry Russian Visas.
Tours to the unrecognized countries of Abkhazia and South Ossetia will each require multiple-entry Russian Visas before the tour begins.
The reason for this is because, if you are going on a tour to Abkhazia (from the Russian side) or South Ossetia, you will need a multiple-entry Russian Visa because you will be entering separate countries. Once your tour is over, you will have to re-enter Russia after it is over.
Russian tourist visas are typically issued as single or double entry for 30 days. If you want to stay longer, you will need a business visa, unless you carry a USA passport, in which case you can get a multi-entry 3-year Visa.
You will only need a regular tourist Visa to join any of our tours. To get a tourist Visa, you need to first get an invitation letter, which can be provided by joining a tour. With this letter, and a bunch of other documents, you can apply at the consulate of your choice.
1) Single-Entry Visa
A single-entry Visa allows travellers to enter and exit Russia only once.
This Visa type applies to our tours of the North Caucasus (Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan & North Ossetia).
2) Multiple-Entry Visa
A multiple-entry Visa allows travellers to enter and exit Russian more than once.
This Visa type applies to both our South Ossetia and Abkhazia tours.
Much like other Visa regimes in the region, Russian visas are date-specific. This means you cannot enter before the entry date on your visa and you cannot leave after the exit date, but you can enter after the entry date and leave before the exit date.
For example, a 30-day tourist visa valid from 1 November – 30 November. You are able to enter on any day after the day your visa begins, but you must leave before or on the 30th of November at the official end of your visa.
Leaving after the set date of your visa will be considered as overstaying your visa, even if you were in the country less than 30 days.
Visa fees typically depend on the number of entries. Fees vary widely depending on your nationality and the consulate you apply at.
EU consulates generally charge local citizens €35 for single or double entry visa. However, this number often differs. In addition, depending on your citizenship, the cost of a Russian Visa may differ.
It is best to check with your local Russian embassy for the most updated prices of Visas for citizens of your country.
Border Zone Permits
Special Permits of the Caucasus
For many border areas, all over the Caucasus region, travellers will need special permits from local authorities to get in. It can be difficult to enter such areas and these permits are not always granted.
Typically, it is difficult to get these permits as an independent traveller, especially if you are not a Russian or local citizen.
If you intend to visit these area, always keep in mind that the whole Caucasus region is a very sensitive area, especially the border zones.
We are always here to work with our clients to make the process of applying for these border permits go as smoothly as possible. Please give us as much notice in advance as possible so we can have the best chance of being granted your permits.
Border Zones of the North Caucasus
Huge territories surrounding the Russian border are considered closed “border zones” and foreigners can only visit these areas if they have speсial permits to do so.
If you are planning to visit the most spectacular mountains and landmarks of the North Caucasus which are close to the border, you must have a permit. If you take part in our tours, we will apply for you and do all of the work necessary to obtain them.
As there is no way to get one permit for all North Caucasus border zones, you will need to apply separately for each one. But hey, that is part of the challenge and should not be a deterrent.
If you are planning to visit border zones in several areas of; Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, North Ossetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachaevo-Cherkessia, Krasnodarskiy Krai – you will have to get permits for each region of the separately.
How do you get a border zone permit? Send us a color copy of your passport, a copy of your Russian Visa and any other information we request so we can begin the process of applying for your border permits.
The good news is that the application and permit are free of charge. The bad news, it takes up to 60 days to get a border zone permit.
It is best to plan tours as far in advance as possible and send us all of the above information as soon as you can.
Letter of Invitation (LOI)
This concept might be a little big confusing for those who have not have to do this process before. It is sort of an invitation to apply for a Russian Visa. A letter of invitation in this case is an invitation from the company you ordered a guided tour from.
The invitation letter consists of 2 documents (in Russian). You just need to print them and bring them to the consulate when you apply for your visa.
Each LOI has a number code which you will also need to fill in on your application.
Where to Get the LOI
When joining a tour with Political Holidays, we are here to help with all visa and consular processes.
It is still possible to apply directly at your local consulate or embassy with some persistence. Note that applying in the consulate typically requires being there in person.
If you want to apply through the consulate directly, look far in advance to book an appointment. It is advisable you give as much time as possible to obtain your Russian Visa.
For ALL Russian Visas, the required documents include:
Completed visa application and invitation letter
You will likely need to fill in the form online. On the application, you will be asked to write the dates of your visit to every country in the past 10 years. Don’t worry too much about this – just give a rough estimate if you cannot remember.
For tourist and business visas, you will need to purchase a letter of invitation before you can fill out the application.
A passport, copies and passport pictures
A passport with 2 empty pages valid for 6 months after planned departure from Russia.
The embassy tends to keep your passport while your application is being processed.
A photocopy of your passport
A 3.5 x 4.5cm photo
Valid travel health insurance is required for all EU/EEA citizens. It is generally not required for citizens of other countries, but still better to have anyways.
More information can be obtained by emailing us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org