I got my Russian Tourist Visa in less than 60 minutes. That too without the help of a travel agent. Many of you will be surprised to know this but yes, getting a Russian tourist visa was a cake walk for me. In this article, I will am sharing my experience of getting the Russian tourist visa.
How to get Russian Tourist Visa
- Create a rough travel itinerary
- Book hotels and Air tickets
- Get invitation letter from a Russian travel agency
- Fill online visa application form
- Submit visa application with invitation letter and other documents at visa office
- Collect visa after 3 days
Gather information from authorised source
I called the Russian embassy in Delhi to know the process of getting a tourist visa (Russian Embassy’s contact number and address are shared below). They told me to call their authorized travel agencies for a smooth visa processing experience. In the name of providing facilities to the applicants, these agencies charge a ‘service charge’ over the normal visa fee. For example, in August 2017 the Russian tourist visa fees were Rs. 1300 and the service charged by IFS was Rs. 1,180.
I called IFS in Delhi and Kolkata to know the process. They answered my queries patiently. This helped me to get a general understanding of the whole process. In the meanwhile, I came to know that applicants can directly approach the Consulates to apply for the visa. This way I could save the extra amount being charged by the private agencies like IFS and Salvia. I also wanted to have a direct experience with the Russian government officials. However, you can approach the private agencies if you want. Having said this, I would NOT recommend approaching other travel agents (who are not authorized by Russian Embassy/Consulate) who will charge their commission or may even mislead you.
Prepare a rough Itinerary and do bookings
I prepared a rough itinerary and booked hostels accordingly through ‘Booking.com’. I prefer this website for hotel bookings because you don’t have to pay at the time of booking. Also, some of their hotels/hostels offer the facility of zero cancellation charges. This means, if in case I am not able to stay in the booked hotels, I can cancel them without getting charged. This gives me the flexibility of changing my itinerary even after getting the visa. This is the best part of booking.com and that’s why I love it.
I also booked flight tickets, as they are also asked at the time of submitting the application. I used skyscanner.com to get the cheap tickets.
Get Invitation letter from Russian travel agency
After getting the information from the authorised sources I came to know every applicant has to submit an Invitation letter from a travel agency based in Russia. This was something new to me. Till now the countries which I have travelled had just ask the passport and other personal documents supporting my identity, address and income proofs. Also, the Russian agencies should be authorised to issue an invitation letter. After an extensive research, I got the invitation letter emailed from Russia. Based on my experience, I have written this article – “How to get Invitation letter for Russian Tourist visa“. You’ll be asked to send confirmed hotel bookings to the Russian travel agency providing you the invitation letter.
Fill up the online application form
http://kolkata.kdmid.ru/queue-en/To get the Russian visa you have to visit their official website – visa.kdmid.ru . Follow the online process and take the print out of the duly filled up application form. You’ll be asked to choose the visa application centre before submitting the online application form. So choose the center before you start the process. My nearest city was Kolkata and I had two options to choose. The Russian Consulate and the authorised travel agency called IFS.
Submit the visa application. Russian Embassy or Travel Agency!
I directly approached the Russian Consulate in Kolkata. Before that, I had to take an online appointment. Click here to get the online appointment. I got an appointment of 10 AM. I reached there 15 minutes before that. There is no parking space nearby the consulate, so be prepared for this. At sharp 10 AM, the guard allowed me to enter the office. A lady asked me to show the documents (List is mentioned below). She was only interested to see the Invitation letter, Application form, flight tickets and the Passport. However, I carried all the documents mentioned below and would advise you to do so. They may ask to produce any one of those documents. After she found the documents ‘all correct’ she asked me to pay fees. I was given 2 options. Either pay Rs 1,300 and collect the visa after 3 days or pay Rs 2,600 to get it on that day. By now the time was 10:15 am. I paid her Rs. 2,600 to get it on the same day. After about 30-40 minutes she appeared with my passport and the fee receipt. I was really astonished by the speed and the professionalism in their work. I was so happy to see the Russian visa in my passport. Just like Shengen visa they also paste it on a full page of the passport.
I would like to add, accepting of the visa application by the authorized agencies does not guarantee visa approval. The decision to grant or refuse a visa remains at the sole discretion of the Russian consular office. This means your request for the visa can also be turned down by the Russian consular office if the application or documents are not proper. Also, the consular offices reserve the right to extend visa processing time in certain cases. The fees paid to the authorized agency or consulate is non-refundable, even if your visa application is rejected.
Invitation letter from Russian travel agency
While planning my first trip to Russia I came to know that in order to apply for a Russian tourist visa, Indian citizens are supposed to procure an invitation/confirmation letter from a travel agency based in Russia & registered in the Unified Federal Register of Tour Operators (under a reference number). Very few nationals are exempted from this condition. To know how to get the Invitation letter from a Russian travel agency, read my article – How to get an Invitation letter for Russian Tourist Visa.
Documents needed for Russian Tourist Visa
- Tourist Invitation letter
- Passport in original
- Copy of passport
- Duly filled application form
- Photograph – size 35×45 mm
- Prescribed fee – 1300/2600 INR at Russian Consulate/Embassy or 2480/3780 INR at IFS (authorized private agency)
Russian Embassy in New Delhi
Embassy of the Russian Federation,
Nyaya Marg, Chanakyapuri,
New Delhi 110021
Russian Consulate in Kolkata
Consulate General of the Russian Federation,
22 A, Raja Santosh Road,
Alipore, Kolkata – 700 027
Click this link for other Russian Consulates in India
Private agencies outsourced for facilitating Russian visa in India