Many people are planning to travel to Russia this summer and will need a tourist visa. Russia requires tourist visas from American travelers just like the US requires Russians to have American visas. So how do you get a Russian visa? How much does it cost and how long does it take to get one?
Getting a visa to Russia is not so difficult and is not too expensive. The easiest way is to contact one of Russian visa agencies which will take your passport, one photo and $200 or so and get you a Russian visa within 2 weeks. If you would like to save $30 you can apply on your own, but I would not recommend it. Why waste your nerves and time for saving just few bucks?
However, if you want to do it on your own (for whatever reason), here is a quick guide to how to apply for a Russian visa by yourself. Get your visa application package assembled. It should include: your passport, one passport size photo, visa invitation (you can purchase one for $30 online), visa application, and two money orders for $150 and $30. The first is the price of tourist visa itself and the latter is the price for FedEx service. Mail this package to the nearest Russian Consulate (New York, San Francisco or Washington DC) and wait for 2 weeks.
The good news is that whenever you apply for a Russian visa, you will almost certainly get it. It is very rare that Americans are denied Russian tourist visas, especially if you are going to Russia for the first time. It is much more difficult for Russian to get tourist visas to America.
Remember, its best to start a visa process at least 2 months before your departure date, to ensure that if you have forgotten something, you can resubmit your application. Also, don’t forget that if you are getting a Russian visa on your own, you should ask your hotel or a host in Russia to prepare arrival registration. You don’t want to be arrested by police for violation of visa rules and trust me, the police will be able to see you in the crowd, unless you leave your sneakers at home.