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I understand that in order to get a visa to visit Russia you need an invitation before you can get a visa.

If you don't have family or friends that you are visiting and you aren't part of an organised tour, how can you obtain an invitation?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 14 down vote accepted

Well, everything is for sale. There are companies out there that will provide you with an official invitation for set prices. (try Google)

I've bought a (single entry) business invitation some years ago, and everything worked out fine. I've met several travellers (in Russia) who bought tourist visa invitations.

Some gotchas:

  • The invitation will not be provided more than 45 days in advance.
  • There are quite some options to choose from. Transit, Tourist and Business visa invitations are the more useful options for travellers.
  • There are different visa durations for the Tourist and Business visa, some allow for multiple entries, some (the most common) are single entry only.

Make sure you leave the country one day ahead of the expiration date as to avoid trouble when, for example, your train is delayed.

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I used getrussian.com -- might be helpful for someone else. –  g . Aug 9 '11 at 23:37
    
I've used Way to Russia in the past. They also have a good page describing the process. waytorussia.net/Travel/VisaSupport.html –  daamsie Apr 26 '13 at 3:18

I am in Irkutsk now, and used visatorussia - they were quick and easy to use. Be aware you can only get a visa in your country of residency or citizenship.

I've had to get invites twice for Russia, and it's a fairly simple but weighty process that takes time - you definitely can't rush it - so start as early as possible, but be aware that you can't get the invite until 45 days before you enter the country, just to make things tricky ;)

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I used visatorussia as well. You should be able to apply for your visa at any Russian embassy. I had my invitation send to a hostel in China and applied for the Visa in Mongolia. –  Jacco Aug 5 '11 at 15:26
    
Depends where you're from. Americans I met had to do it from their country so had to go home from Lithuania to do it (so close!). As a New Zealander living in the UK, I was allowed to do it in Wellington or London. Japanese seem to get visas really easily for short periods, invite-free! –  Mark Mayo Aug 5 '11 at 15:33
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We met an American in Ulan Bator who got his visa just before us. The amount of paperwork was at least 5 times more than for us, but in the end he got it. Mostly we learned that being very polite to the people in the embassy works wonders. (And being rude can result in your invitation being cancelled on the spot) –  Jacco Aug 5 '11 at 15:50
    
Wow, nice! It's amazing how different/lax different embassies and consulates can be - the discussions in Central Asia about Uzbekistan were insanely varied, as were the ones for getting a Chinese visa! –  Mark Mayo Aug 5 '11 at 15:59
    
As an American, I could do it in London as a UK resident. The paperwork was insane, but got it done same day at the embassy... quite an experience. –  g . Aug 9 '11 at 23:37

Hotels can sponsor you if you spend the first nights with them.

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Some hotels can, but not all; the cheaper ones tend to charge you for it. –  Jacco Aug 10 '11 at 7:35

How to obtain the visa to Russia depends at least on your nationality.

As a German in Germany, between 2008 and 2010, I obtained three visas via Pul Express GmbH, an agency in Berlin. Pul Express offers all kinds of visas, including multiple entrance business visas valid over the course of one year. They take care of all the invitations and the paperwork. Only you have to fill out an application form, but I don't remember that as being particularly painful.

If you are in a hurry, they can get a visa for you in less than three days.

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