I am heading to Russia in February and recently submitted and received my Russian visa. It is a fairly complicated process but once you understand the rules, it was completed quickly. I will focus mostly on Canada and their Russian visa application in this post.
First, make sure to check up on rules and regulations of visa requirements. Do you even need one? The Canadian government has a great travel website that lists advisories, security, health, laws, climate and entry requirements for most countries. Click HERE for Russia’s page. The United States has a very similar page as well.
Second, go to the Russian embassy to Canada website to find their process. The process can change quite often so make sure to double-check before you go ahead with your visa application. If you note, they made changes in July 2013.
Third, you next must decide what type of visa you require. Most of us will be applying for a tourist visa but there are other kinds such as private (visiting family/friends) and business. We’ll focus on the tourist visa for Canadians.
Russian Visa Application
1. All applicants must use the online form HERE (citizens of Australia, Canada, Georgia, UK and USA). You will then print it off on one page (back to back) and sign it.
2. Original passport with two pages free of stamps and valid for at least six months after your departure from Russia.
3. One photocopy of ID page of your passport.
4. One original photo (35 x 45 mm) attached to printed out application. I got mine from CAA. Just remember to tell them it is for Russia since their size requirements may differ from other countries.
5. Tourist voucher and confirmation from a Russian hosting travel agency or hotel registered with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There is a reference number on the voucher that you will enter into the Russian visa application.
6. Flight itinerary (if applying for tourist double entry)- a letter from yourself that lists who is travelling, where, when and purpose. I included this even though I was not applying for a double entry visa just in case.
7. Money order, bank draft or certified cheque. Amount will depend on regular processing (up to 20 business days) or rush processing (3 business days) and whether you are applying in person or via mail.
You can apply in person but they only have locations in Eastern Canada so that may be a challenge for some of us that live elsewhere. So if you are near Toronto, Ottawa or Montreal, take the above and go to the Russian Embassy in Canada.
If you live elsewhere, you can mail in your Russian visa application BUT not directly to the Russian embassy. This is one of the new rule changes. You must mail it to a third-party visa agency that is now affiliated with the Russian Embassy – Invisa Logistics Services Canada Ltd. Please go to their website as there is an additional charge so the fee will differ since they are processing it and will courier it back to you. They have a very good website but if you have any questions, email them. I had a couple regarding the vouchers and they responded quickly.
A little more information on the voucher/confirmation – you can have more than one. For my trip, I had a voucher for my hotel in Moscow and for the cruise ship in Sochi. Invisa told me to enter the voucher reference number from my first stop (Moscow) into the Russian visa application since there is only ONE spot for a voucher reference number. You will list in a different spot how many places you are visiting and their addresses but only one spot for the voucher. Make sure to include all your vouchers in the application package.
Now one note on this: I have heard from others that their Russian visa application was rejected due to the numerous vouchers. If you have the time, try it my way first and enter your first voucher number but include all in the application. It worked for me and I received my visa within two weeks. If your application is rejected, you can buy ONE voucher/confirmation that covers your entire time in Russia from a third-party agency such as Travisa, CAA or IVPSC.
One final reminder: for the online application, the “appointment details” is an important part of the Russian visa application. Make sure to select the correct one – this will depend on whether you are submitting online OR mailing it in and the province in which you reside. Invisa lists where each province will submit their application: e.g. Alberta submits to Visa Application Centre (Toronto) and British Columbia submits to Visa Application Centre (Ottawa).
Final reminder: check and recheck your application that you filled the online form out correctly and have all the items for the package. You can save it as a draft and go in and make changes until you print it out; no more changes after printing it. You will have to start over if you do.
You should have your visa within a few weeks and it will be pasted into your passport. You are now ready to watch Canada kick some ass in Russia at the Olympics. 🙂 My hotel is booked and I found a great flight. I can’t wait to get to Russia! [Update: I made it and had a great time. Here are a couple posts on Red Square AND the Kremlin]
Have you applied for your Russian visa yet?
UPDATE: There is talk on some of the forums (tripadvisor and facebook) that you need to have the following on your tourist confirmation (voucher) that says “Sochi-2014 – Spectator” (Сочи-2014 – зритель)” on the special field additional information. I have already applied and received my visa so I’m not sure what happens to my visa. I think Russia is using this to expedite visa applications for the Sochi spectators but I am not sure. So if you have not applied yet but have your voucher/confirmation documents already, please contact the Russian embassy or the third party visa agency you are using to confirm what you need.
You can also keep an eye on this thread on Trip Advisor: it is a VERY long thread but has useful information. You may also be asked to provide a copy or confirmation email of your Olympic tickets. The process is changing quickly so keep an eye on all this.
UPDATE: ILS Canada has posted this on their website confirming the above update.