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Northern Asia Topics specific to Russia, Central Asia (also known as "the 'stans"), Mongolia, Japan and Korea
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  #1  
Old 10 Apr 2012
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Russia: visa question...

okay, so we had everything sorted out for a quick vsit to russia in july wih the bikes for 2 weeks...until... Our friend in russia didn't get the approval to give us a letter of invitation!!!

The consulate in Antwerp doesn't understand any language except russian (after I waited for more than an hour to get in to ask a question) so PLEASE help us since we nly ave 3 weeks to sortbeveything out!

How do you guys apply for a russian vsa? What's the easiest way?

We will only stay in Russia for 10 to 14 days crossing from Finland and going to St Petersburg and Moscow. We can stay in both cites with friends. then we go back to EU.

I am Belgian so not UK... But any help is welcome!!! I know this question has been asked already a few times in the last monhs/years but now we have the problem and need some solutions fast... Thx guys for your insight on this matter...
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  #2  
Old 10 Apr 2012
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For Canadians, an invitation letter is not required for a tourist visa. For a business visa invitation you can go through a visa service company who will usually provide one for a fee.
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  #3  
Old 10 Apr 2012
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Two quick options spring to mind:

Use Real Russia. You can submit the visa application on line, then print bits out sign and post it to them. Mine was very quick and I had no problems. Even couriered stamped and approved passport and visa to another address for me as I was out of the country at the time. UK passport but EU so prob wiull be similar for Begians. Friend is in the process of getting the same on a German passport so its a good route.

Speak to David at Stantours. Have had some excellent advice from him - really helpful - and he's doing our Stans stuff ( UK, German/ Oz passports)

We are on a time limit for getting visas too and that's why we have used agencies as opposed to doing our own paperwork and queing. Costs a bit more but I reckon you'll save that on stress and time spent waiting.

Stantours will also send our passports to an overseas address as we both have two each, so if you're in the same position, that too could be an option.

Hope it works out OK.

Belle
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  #4  
Old 10 Apr 2012
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Use an online agency for the invitation letter. It's cheap and quick. They email you the letter and you print it out.

There's no point in your friend in Russia trying to get you invitation letters as they will have to pay a fee for the processing which is something similar to what an agency charges, plus it's a bit of a headache as your friend has found out.

As people have said: Real Russia and Stantours both have good reputations. I have used both without any problems. Though last time I tried contacting Real Russia they were very poor in replying (several times) which has reduced my opinion of them a bit.

I think I used waytorussia.net for the last Russian invitation letter I had, and it was the most simple and straightforward process I've come across.
Russian Tourist Visa Support Application | waytorussia.net page Seems to be the right page but it's changed loads from when I used them.
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  #5  
Old 10 Apr 2012
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Ekke, Belle, Nath,

thanx a bunch for this!

I read it last year the part of using agencies, but as I have a lot of fun trying to do everything my own and planning, I didn't want to go for that option.
But since you all had positive experiences and my friend did set it all up in Russia (and we really want to go) I'll take your advice and contact those agencies and let you know the outcome!

THX again for the answers, you are "lifesavers"!

@ Nath: I will stay in touch and read your website, since we both travel on the DRZ400 and are planning on doing roughly the same trip you did...!!! So I will maybe bother you again in the future... ;-)
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  #6  
Old 10 Apr 2012
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Oh yeah, btw, my friend did have to pay to register etc... the reason why it was refused was never explained to her... We think it can only be because she lives in St Petersburg but applied in the migration office in Moscow or because we have both a Government job that the Russians probably don't like... ;-)
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  #7  
Old 11 Apr 2012
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i always use Get visa to Russia - tourist, business visa support and invitations. Russian embassy and consulate visa requirements. Visalink ... you will get a tourist voucher for about 40 bux in 24 hours, and with that you can apply for the visa the next day
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  #8  
Old 12 Apr 2012
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Hi there the best way to get a visa for Russia is to apply for a transit visa at the embassy in Belguim. I say this because it can cost as little as 10% of what it costs for a toiurist visa the only problem is that your transit visa lasts for only 10 days you can however extend it quite easily once you are inside Russia. You do not need a letter of invitation or an itinerrary for a transit visa which further reduces the cost also I got my Transit visa within 24 hrs at no extra cost. Good luck and enjoy the journey.
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  #9  
Old 12 Apr 2012
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Originally Posted by THEHAPPYWANDERER View Post
Hi there the best way to get a visa for Russia is to apply for a transit visa at the embassy in Belguim.

you can however extend it quite easily once you are inside Russia.
A Transit Visa is not usually the best. It is intended for just that - transit, not staying a day or two, not sightseeing, not touring about.

They were originally intended for train journeys starting and finishing outside RUS but crossing some RUS territory, even without scheduled stops. They also are for leaving 'airside' when changing flights on a journey starting and finishing outside RUS and are usually for 3 days only.

For Transit Visas for road journeys you must state the entry and exit points. They work out the fastest route.

This is from the Russian Embassy Visa Requirements for road use -

Transit visa would be issued based on the fastest journey to the destination. The average daily distance to be covered by car should not be less than 500 km.

500km/312miles minimum per day, every day (including day of entry and exit?) is pretty demanding on most RUS roads.
It gives no leeway for the slightest problem, sightseeing or deviating from the fastest route.
To be in RUS with an expired visa can lead to serious problems, delays, penalties and a 5 year ban for future visas.

I am not aware a Transit Visa can be extended within RUS - certainly other visas cannot, except in real emergency situations (I have heard of an instance where suffering a broken leg while a passenger with others on a car journey was not sufficient excuse).

OO-SEB-OO's fastest route from Finland to Latvia (presumably) would not take in Moscow nor any time staying with friends in Pete or Moscow.

Not recommended, by me anyway, except for the shortest of transits and as an emergency 'get you home' measure.
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Old 12 Apr 2012
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I have never actually heard of anyone using a transit visa, although it sounds like it is possible. But as TonyP points out, in my view any resulting savings on visa costs would be a false economy, and the disadvantages greatly outweigh the modest cost savings. Even if it is possible to extend a transit visa within Russia (which frankly sounds very odd), best case you could probably count on wasting a full day in some city dealing with this.

There are no shortage of options for getting a normal tourist visa, why not just get one and be done with it?
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Old 12 Apr 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by colebatch View Post
i always use Get visa to Russia - tourist, business visa support and invitations. Russian embassy and consulate visa requirements. Visalink ... you will get a tourist voucher for about 40 bux in 24 hours, and with that you can apply for the visa the next day
Same here,,,And their customer service is excellent.
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  #12  
Old 23 Apr 2012
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can anyone recommend an agency in Australia for arranging letter of invitation etc. and obtaining a visa?
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  #13  
Old 24 Apr 2012
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Originally Posted by dajg View Post
can anyone recommend an agency in Australia for arranging letter of invitation etc. and obtaining a visa?

No such animal

I used this company to get my LOI, cost me $30AU and I then downloaded the forms from the same site and sent them away

Russian Visa Online, Moscow, Russia. Tourist, Business, Multiple-Entry Travel Russia Visa Support Invitation Services. Russian Federation Visa Requirements, Embassy and Consulate Application Form. Visas to all CIS Countries: Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhs


I found them very easy to work with via email

This is the info I got back after a query

"
Dear Richard,


To obtain a Russian visa, you need first to be provided with visa support (official letter of invitation). You will then need to take your visa support to the Russian consulate in your country and be issued an actual visa.

The visa type depend mostly on the duration of your visit. Please note that a Russian visa cannot be extended upon arrival to Russia.

If your visit is not likely to take more than 30 days, you can use a moto-tourist visa. We would be glad to provide you with an appropriate invitation, please apply ONLINE. A tourist invitation will be processed in one business day. Our fee is $30. To make an order, please use the following link: http://www.visatorussia.com/russianv...a_support.html

Please make sure to indicate your motorbike details (make, color and ID plate number) in the Comments field of your application so that we can reflect these on your invitation.

We can include a name of a well-known hotel in your invitation for form's sake without you having to actually book the hotel. This way the consular requirements will be observed and once in Russia, you will be able to choose accommodation in accordance with your convenience.

If you travel can take more than 30 days, we suggest a 3 months business visa. A business visa is very flexible indeed and you can use it when you wish to stay in Russia for more than one month meeting people, establishing contacts... in short, doing nothing you have to account for.

We would be glad to provide you with a business invitation. The link is as follows: http://www.visatorussia.com/russianv...a_support.html

Should you need further assistance or advice, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Best regards,
Ekaterina Lisitsina
Customer service senior manager"
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  #14  
Old 24 Apr 2012
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Originally Posted by TravellingStrom View Post
If your visit is not likely to take more than 30 days, you can use a moto-tourist visa. [/url]

Just for clarities sake and to avoid confusion down the line ... this particular company appears to have invented this term - mototourist visa.

It doesnt exist as such - as far as I am aware there is no such thing - its just a tourist visa. IN any case its completely irrelevant because you dont need anything more than a standard tourist visa if you visit is 30 days or less.

Dont go looking for it elsewhere.

If your visit is more than 30 days, then you need a business visa. (and there is no such thing as a moto-business visa either)
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  #15  
Old 25 Apr 2012
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I would just add that for Australians getting a business visa you need the original LOI. A print out of the scanned copy is not sufficient (ok for tourist visa). Stantours also accepted scanned copies of the relevant documents so I didnt need to mail them and they DHLed the originals out.

Quick and efficient.
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