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No doubt, it has become much easier to get to Russia. However, all foreign guests, when visiting Russia, should be granted an entry visa. At present, there are three basic categories of entry visas:
Tourist visa valid up to thirty days. One may get it in the Russian Embassy through a travel agency.
Business visa valid up to sixty days. One may get it upon showing an invitation from a Russian firm/partner.
Visitor visa may also be issued, providing the personal invitation and accommodation guarantee are available.
Any foreigner wishing to visit Russia may get a tourist visa after appealing to a tourist agency and filling-in an official application form.
An invitation issued by the Russian firm/partner plus three photographs and a photocopy of the first six pages of a passport are to be sent to the Russian Embassy for business visa.
Visitor visa is also issued in Russian Embassies. One have to appeal there providing personal invitation is available and accommodation in Moscow is guaranteed.
A place of your staying or living in Russia is also specified during the process of issuing the entry visa. If you want to visit other cities or towns in Russia a special permit of the appropriate authorities is required. In any case, the route should better be discussed and designated preliminary, at time, when the entry visa is issued.
Upon arrival all foreign entry visas should be officially registered in OVIR (visa and registry department) by hotel administration. If staying in private apartments, foreign guests should register themselves in local offices of the OVIR department within the three days after arrival.
Visa may be extended by the Moscow OVIR department, if an application for it is sent in by a Russian firm or a private person who has organized a visit of a foreign guest. Information about lost visas should be immediately furnished to the OVIR department.
There are, also, so-called multiple entry visas (issued for the period of six months), which may interest businessmen visiting Russia on regular or frequent basis. These visas are issued based on the applications submitted by the Russian companies, joint ventures, etc., to OVIR departments. The foreign companies stationed in Russia should appeal to the Consular Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The application should include all explanations regarding the requirement for the repeated entry visas.
The Moscow OVIR head office:
Ul. Tchernyshevskogo, 42, tel.: (095) 207-3032
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Visa Department):
Smolenskaya-Sennaya Square 32/34, tel.: (095)241-9022, 244-1705
More information about visas:
Tourist visas are best for short visits. According to Russian law it is illegal for a hotel to provide you with an invitation if you are not going to stay there but this law is broken more often than it is followed. Many agencies can get you a visa and have it registered without a night booked in a hotel, and many hotels will give you give you an invitation and register it even if you're only staying with them for part of your trip.
Business visas aren't just for foreigners working in Russia. Far more flexible than tourist visas, they are often the best choice for tourists who are visiting friends and don't need a hotel, or who are looking to spend an extended period of time in Russia, especially those who want to travel independently or extensively. In order to get a business visa you need an invitation from a Russian firm, which can usually be arranged through a visa agency. You do not need to plan hotel reservations or an itinerary to get a business visa.
Student visas are a great deal; they're flexible, lengthy, and entitle you to Russian prices for trains, planes, the theater, and a host of other goodies. The only catch is that you have to prove enrollment at a Russian institution. If you are planning to enroll in a Russian university, the school authorities can probably help you arrange the visa.
Other types of visas include Transit Visas, On-the-Spot Visas, and Diplomatic Visas. Transit visas can be a cheap option for travelers headed for China or Central Asia, but it's often hard to make it in and out of the country in your allotted window of time. On-the-Spot Visas are dubious, not universally available, and very expensive. Diplomatic visas have a narrow range of applicability.