Russian Visa Support Letter Information

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Applying for a Russian Visa Support Letter.

In general it is not easy to get a Russian visa. Before you even fill in the visa application form and visit the consulate you need an invitation or “Visa support letter”. You application cannot be processed without this document as it is a special invitation to visit Russia.

Russian Visa Support Letter and important information.

It is important to know that this invitation letter needs to be processed from within Russia. Under Russian law, every foreign traveller must have a Russian-based sponsor, which could be a hotel, tour company, relative, employer, university, etc. The name of your sponsor is indicated on this “Letter of Invitation”. Below is an example of what the Russian Visa Support Letter looks like.

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Example of a Russian Visa Support Letter

What kind of Russian Visa do you need?

The first thing to do is to decide what kind of visa you need: Tourist, Business, Student or private. The Private or Homestay Visa is a topic for another Blog post because it is very difficult to obtain and requires a lot of work from your friends or relatives.

My personal experience with a Russian Visa Support Letter.

I have visited Russia in 2008 for a month and in 2012 for three months. When I applied for a Russian Visa in 2008, I ran into a lot of problems with the Consulate in South Africa.  I have mentioned before that your “Sponsor”, being a Hotel, Hostel, Tour Agency or University will be able to issue you with a formal invitation. My plans were flexible and I didn´t see the need to book all my accommodation upfront.  If you fall into this category then it is best to pay a little extra and get your own Visa Support Letter. There are various companies who assist foreigners. The Company that I have used in 2008 is called “Way to Russia” and they were quick, flexible and offered 24 hour support. In 2012 I used a Company in Saint Petersburg and there service was excellent and very professional. My Support letter was telexed to the Russian Consulate in South Africa and no paperwork was send by courier.

How to apply online and what information is required:

  •  Full list of personal details;
  •  Passport number;
  •  Single, double or multiple entries;
  •  Entry and exit date (You cannot cross the border before this date);
  •  Consulate where you will be applying for the visa;
  •  Cities to visit in Russia (This is flexible);
  • Place of stay in Russia and phone number (Optional);
  •  Scanned copy of your passport.

How much does a Russian Visa Support Letter cost?

It all depends how quickly you want the letter and what type of Visa you will be applying for. Tourist Visas Letters are cheaper and quicker to issue. Prices vary between $30 US (24 hours processing) or $45 US (urgent processing) for a tourist Visa. Business Visas letters take longer and are more expensive. The price is $80 to $250 US (1 to 18 working days) for a business visa. Prices vary from Company to Company and also depends if you need the original form or if it needs to be telexed to the Consulate.  In my opinion the Telex option works perfect and I didn´t have any problems with the Russian Consulate in South Africa.

Some Consulates may require the original document and they will post it if required. (In 2008 I printed my document in colour and the Consulate accepted it).

Travel agencies do tend to be on the expensive side when it comes to Russian visa applications mainly because many of them don´t know what is required when applying for a Russian Visa. This I have learnt in 2008 when I asked a Travel Agency to organize my Visa. In 2012, I did it all myself and as long as you understand what is involved, it is not that difficult.

When:  2008 and 2012.

I have been fortunate to have done quite a bit of travelling over the last 10 years. By heart I am an adventurer and I love exploring new places, cultures and food. Travelling can become stressful and expensive. Over the years I have learnt to travel as cost effective as possible, simply by travelling more clever. Nelmitravel.com is a Adventure and Budget Travel site where I review Airlines, Accommodation, Transport, Restaurants and give helpful travel information.

24 Comments

  1. Tell me about it! What I like about this option is the flexibility. We stayed in Russia for a month and I wanted a flexible itinerary. We booked our own accommodation and stayed in hostels. If I have gone the travel agency and hotel route I would have had to stick to a fixed itinerary which I didn't want.The price for the visa is steep and I had my visa declined 3 times before I actually got it 🙁

  2. Getting a Russian visa may be ok – just use the agent for it, and the good thing about it is that you don't need to book a tour, they will just put a name of some Russian travel agency in your visa, but you don't need to buy any tour. My husband did it and it was all perfect – he got his visa and stayed at my place in Moscow, and no problems.

  3. Thanks for the comment, that is exactly what I have done. I used a company called Way to Russia and they issued me with a Letter of Invitation. I paid 25 USD at the time and I stayed in an apartment for a month.

  4. Was a bit of a 'mare to get :O and that was with us getting it for free through booking with the Holiday Inn. Still another £70 each for the visa itself

  5. You really came with a good idea and I'm thinking now to add something like that cos in Egypt also we have 2 different kind of visa 🙂

  6. When I went to Russia, it was part of a school tour group, so I didn't have to do anything to get the Visa. Our leaders took care of that. I had no idea it was such an involved process! Very interesting!

  7. I suppose we take things for granted when other people do it on your behalf. I must admit if the Travel Agency did it all for me I would also not pay much interest to the whole process. Luckily I had to go through it to be able to advise other travellers 🙂

  8. Tell me about it! What I like about this option is the flexibility. We stayed in Russia for a month and I wanted a flexible itinerary. We booked our own accommodation and stayed in hostels. If I have gone the travel agency and hotel route I would have had to stick to a fixed itinerary which I didn't want.The price for the visa is steep and I had my visa declined 3 times before I actually got it 🙁

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