Russia has kept its promise and launched the electronic visa processing service on August 1st. Citizens from the following 55 countries can apply for a Russian electronic visa through this website: electronic-visa.kdmid.ru
List of countries whose citizens can apply for a Russian electronic visa
EU Countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden.
Non-EU European Countries: Andorra, Iceland, Monaco, North Macedonia, Norway, San Marino, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey, Vatican
Asia: Bahrain, Cambodia, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Myanmar, Oman, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam.
How long does it take to issue a visa?
The Russian Foreign Ministry’s website promises to issue visas within 4 calendar days (that is, including weekends!).
Do I need to arrange an invitation from Russia or book hotels and flights?
No, it is enough to fill out an application.
How much does the visa processing cost?
The consular fee is $52. Children up to 6 years old – $2.
What is the validity of the visa? When should I apply for a visa?
The validity of the unified electronic visa is 60 days from the day of its issuance, with a permitted stay in the Russian Federation for no more than 16 days from the day of entry. An application for a visa must be submitted no later than 4 calendar days before the anticipated date of entry into the Russian Federation.
Yes, the stay duration in Russia is quite short, but you can still accomplish a lot in 16 days!
What else do I need to know about an e-visa to Russia?
The unified electronic visa allows for a single entry into the Russian Federation and stay in the Russian Federation for tourist, guest, business purposes, for scientific and cultural purposes.
The process of applying for an electronic visa to Russia
The application is filled out online. It must be accompanied by a face photo and a scan of the machine-readable passport data page.
You also need to upload a scan of the document, provide passport details, place of birth, and so on.
Then, you need to provide information about the planned trip, marital status, details about parents, and address of residence.
Yes, information about parents. We do not know why the Russian authorities need this.
How can you enter Russia with this visa?
The complete list of checkpoints is published on the official portal. You can enter by any means – by land, sea, or air. The list includes international airports in various Russian cities, ports, and pedestrian checkpoints.
Is it Ethical to Travel to Russia in 2023?
Many might question whether it is ethical to travel to Russia under the current circumstances. Russia initiated a war against Ukraine in February 2022, which continues to this day. Russia has found itself under numerous sanctions, and the attitude towards Russian authorities and people in many countries is extremely negative.
There are virtually no foreign tourists in Russia at the moment – Chinese tourists have not massively returned, tourists from Europe and the USA are refraining from traveling to Russia either due to moral reasons, visa difficulties, or issues with payment cards (Visa and Mastercard are not operational in Russia). Tourists from other countries rarely traveled to Russia.
We are not prepared to provide a definitive answer to the question “Is it ethical to travel to Russia in 2023?”. Each individual will need to answer this question for themselves. However, we are ready to provide you with practical information about traveling to all countries around the world, including Russia.
What is it like to travel in Russia now? Do Visa and Mastercard work there?
Suhas Mahajan, a traveler, recently posted his experience of entering Russia on the Facebook group ‘Every passport stamp‘. He crossed from Kazbegi to Vladikavkaz via the Lars Checkpoint, noting that his Indian passport made the process simple. He obtained a tourist visa from the ‘Russia Visa Application Center’ in Tbilisi within a week:
“I recently crossed from Kazbegi to Vladikavkaz at the Lars Checkpoint. It was easy for me being an Indian passport holder. I needed a tourist visa which I could obtain within a week from ‘Russia Visa Application Center’ in Tbilisi (Russia has since reintroduced the E-Visa program, so it’s more convenient now). For the border crossing, it’s best to take a shared/private taxi, preferably having Russian license plate, otherwise there is a slightly longer process for Georgia licensed cars. Anyway, the driver will take care of the car formalities. As a traveler, you need to get off the car. First you will clear immigration on Georgia side, then on Russia side.
The interrogation on Russia side varies depending on your nationality – it’s more difficult for Western passport holders these days. For me, it was done easily at the roadside counter itself, I wasn’t called inside for any further inspection. The immigration officer at the counter just asked me to wait a bit while she made a few calls to her supervisors to confirm my case. Then she stamped me in. My taxi driver was surprised because he assumed that I will be called in and take a long time to clear. We had mutually agreed that he would wait for up to 1 hour in case I get delayed -because there were other passengers sharing the taxi too. So, in case you are delayed and the taxi has left, then you can hitch a ride easily or find another taxi going to Vladikavkaz.
On the way to Vladikavkaz after clearing the immigration earlier, there is one more checkpoint where the officer asked me to get out of the car for further questioning. However, my driver jokingly told him “The guy doesn’t speak Russian and you don’t speak English. Why waste your time?!” So the officer just let us go!
In case you need, I have contacts of a few drivers who usually go from Tbilisi to Vladikavkaz, but it’s also easy to just show up at Tbilisi’s Didube Bus Terminal in early morning and find a taxi going to Vladikavkaz. I heard that there are usually no taxis from Kazbegi to Vladikavkaz unless you arrange your pickup with the driver coming from Tbilisi – I am not sure about it though.
Regarding currency exchange, it’s best to buy some Rubels from Tbilisi. The exchange rate in Kazbegi is much less favorable. Once in Vladikavkaz, you can buy more Rubels with USD cash from this exchange shop: https://yandex.com/maps/org/obmen_valyuty/176386493477 It had the best rate (90 Rubels for 1 USD).
If you’re staying longer in Russia, it’s best to open a Sberbank account and get yourself a Debit Card which I could do easily within 30 minutes from this Sberbank branch in Vladikavkaz: https://maps.google.com/?cid=5238313623896935011&entry=gps However, before going there, get yourself a SIM card (either MTC or Megafone) as it will be required to register the bank account and receive alerts for every transaction you do with the Debit Card. You can always buy Rubels with USD cash and deposit it in your Sberbank account at most ATMs.
Having a Sberbank Debit Card was extremely convenient as I could use it to order Yandex taxis, book train tickets on https://eng.rzd.ru/ , book accommodation on Ostrovok App, book flights on domestic airlines, and tap-pay for subways in SPB and Moscow. As you know, all of this is currently impossible using foreign cards, so having a local debit card made traveling so much easier!”
Once again the eligible countries, listed in alphabetical order, are: