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I am a French citizen going to Russia for a 6 day scientific conference. I have an official invitation letter (all in Russian) from the organizers, I have booked hotel and plane, and I am now looking at visa information… and it's driving me crazy! The sheer complexity of the system makes me imagine that it may be a scheme to drive unemployment down by hiring thousands of civil servants.

My specific question is: what are the differences between a tourist and business visa?

Business visas apparently allow longer stays, multiple entries, etc. Given that my stay will be short and simple (I come to Moscow, stay in Moscow, leave from Moscow), should I ask for a business visa or can I get a slightly less expensive tourist visa?

share|improve this question
Welcome to Russian bureaucracy! :) – Karlson Apr 24 '13 at 14:32
Yup. The joys. Often it's easier to go through a company like Last time I went as a tourist on a business visa - solely because I needed multiple entry and more than 30 days. Good luck! – Mark Mayo Apr 24 '13 at 16:42
up vote 7 down vote accepted

To visit a fair falls under doing business, if it is part of your job, when being sent over by a foreign company. Specially if you want to do negotiations or even sign contracts. So you would need a business visa.

If the fair you are visiting is an industrial fair such as for machinery or trade, you will need a business visa.

However, there is conflicting information for this. This russian company claims that as long as your trip fits into the time needed for a tourist visa, you can get one no matter what the purpose of your trip is.

I would recommend contacting your local Russian embassy or consulate and simply ask them.

share|improve this answer
It seems nothing is “simple” about visas for Russia. The consulate has outsourced its handling of visas to a private company, and they are not exactly easy to reach :( – F'x Apr 24 '13 at 14:38

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