Passport, Visa & Permits to Moscow


You must have a valid passport to travel abroad. Different countries have different processes for obtaining a passport. Contact your local government to find out the process. The process and cost associated with getting a passport can be high, so start the process at least six months before you plan to leave. Your passport must be valid 6 months beyond intended stay.


A foreign citizen is defined as a person temporarily staying in the Russian Federation. A visa is a document issued on the basis of an invitation to enter the Russian Federation. Citizens of the Commonwealth of Independent States (except for Georgia and Turkmenistan) do not need visas. A visa determines how long a foreign citizen can stay in Russia.

To enter Russia, you must determine what type of visa you need. A handy tool to determine what kind of visa you might need is at: In order to get a visa, travellers need an invitation from a Russian citizen or company, which is taken to a Russian embassy or consulate, where the actual visa is issued. Apply for a visa as soon as you have all the documents you need (but not more than two months ahead). Processing time ranges from 24 hours to two weeks, depending on how much you are willing to pay. Consulates located in Europe take 3 to 10 business days for the visa processing. In addition, Russian visas issued by the consulates in Europe now have a five day "waiting period" on entering Russia, i.e. the person can not travel to Russia for at least 5 days after the visa is issued. Transit visas normally take seven working days, but may take as little as a few hours at the Russian embassy in Beijing.

A break down of Visas:

Tourist visas
These are the most straightforward but inflexible visas available and allow a stay of up to 30 days in Russia. Tourist visa can be obtained on the basis of an invitation from a tourist agency, registered with the Department of Consular Service at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs according to the Russian law, or on the basis of a hotel confirmation. Visitors are to have every night of accommodation pre-booked, but in reality you may need to have just one night reserved.

Business visas
Official business visas are intended for foreign citizens who travel to Russia to meet their business partners, take part in negotiations, sign a contract, visit an exhibition, or any other business related travel. These visas do not imply official employment in Russia; a work visa should be obtained for that purpose. These are the most flexible visas and offer a single-entry visa that is valid for up to three months, while a multiple-entry visa may be valid for up to 12 months. Both of these allow complete freedom of movement once you arrive in Russia. A business visa requires the same documentation listed in the boxed text, but the invitation from a Russian company is usually more expensive. Also, the Russian consulate may require the original copy of this invitation. In addition to these documents, travellers applying for a visa for more than three months must submit an HIV-AIDS test certificate.

Student visas Student visas are flexible, extendable and even entitle you to pay Russian prices for items affected under the country's dual-pricing system. You'll need an invitation from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which the Russian school or university will help you obtain (after paying for the tuition). To obtain a visa valid for more than three months, you must submit an HIV-AIDS test certificate.

Private visas
These visas are for those foreigners who have relatives or friends in Russia able to get a private invitation and are also referred to as an "ordinary" visa. The period of validity is from one to three months, and the visas have one entry only. The person who is inviting you must go to their local visa office of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (RMIA), sometimes still referred to as OVIR, and fill out an invitation form for approval of the invitation. Approval, which takes several weeks, comes in the form of a notice of permission (izveshchenie), good for one year, which the person inviting you must send to you. You will need this invitation approval notice, together with the standard application form, to apply for the visa, which is valid for up to 60 days in your host's town.

Transit visas
This visa is for foreigners, who travel to a third country via Russia. Prices for transit visas are usually low, and it is not very difficult to obtain this kind of visa. For transit by air it's usually good for 48 hours. For a nonstop Trans-Siberian Railway journey it's valid for 10 days, giving westbound passengers a few days in Moscow; those heading east, however, are not allowed to linger in Moscow. To obtain a transit visa, you will need to show the itinerary for your entire trip, as well as any visa needed for your onward journey.

There are many companies that will help travelers obtain a visa. Here are a few:

Conti-Tour Moscow
Provides short-time registration in Moscow (from 3 to 6 months), migration cards, job permission, medical license (books), and some visas to Shengen countries.
Contact: Maria Varfolomeeva
Address: Marshala Biruzova ul., 1, office 515
Metro: Oktyabrskoye Pole
Tel: 514-6619, 8 926 2070733
Fax: 937-5659

Norman DL Associates
Legal support of foreign business travel. Offers registration support and work permits for foreign citizens. Also helps with state registration of legal entities, accreditation of representative offices and branches of foreign legal entities.
Address: Dobroslobodskaya ul., 6, str. 1
Metro: Baumanskaya
Tel: 775-8135 / 36 (contact Marina Gordeeva)
Fax: 775-8136

TIM Services
TIM Services is the first professional migration agency in Russia. Areas of expertise cover visa support and work permits' processing.
Address: Letnikovskaya ul., 10, str. 3
Tel: 987-1216


Within three working days of arrival to Russia, the visa needs to be registered with the help of the person/organization that issued the invitation. Prices for processing Russian visas and the processing periods vary according to the applicant's citizenship and the embassy/consulate applied to.

If a foreign citizen has lost their documents, they cannot be registered and must leave the Russian Federation no later than ten days after obtaining, upon his/her written request, a document proving that he/she lost the documents.

Update 10/07/2009


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