Travel to Russia: Getting a Visa

Reader Contribution…

We are a family of 5 who decided we wanted to travel to Russia at least once while on this tour in Europe. Here is the basic list of what is required in order to get your Visa for traveling to Russia. Start the process early so you are out the least money possible and allow time for corrections if necessary.

To apply for a Russian Visa see the tourist visa application pkg checklist below and include this in your application for visas.

Send it or hand-carry it to either:

  • The Embassy of the Russian Federation
  • Consulate General of the Russian Federation

Bonn consulate
Address: Waldstrasse, 42, 53177 Bonn
Phone: +49 228 312-085
Fax: +49 228 312-164
Telex: (41) 885615
E-mail: bonn@russische-botschaft.de,
konsulat@russische-botschaft.de
HOURS: 0900 to 1300 only Mon-Friday


You have to obtain your visa from the country in which you are a citizen; however, if you live and work in a different country (military orders), you may obtain your visa in that country. Thus we were able to obtain our visa from the Russian consulate here in Germany (Bonn-address below). Take your sofa cards as proof of residence in Germany. They don’t keep those. They will keep your passports while processing your visa applications.

In addition to your application package for your Tourist visa, the military member MUST GO to the following website and do a few additional things required for active duty personnel visiting Russia. https://www.fcg.pentagon.mil/

TOURIST VISA APPLICATION PACKAGE CHECK LIST: All of this must accompany you when you go to the consulate or must be mailed to a processing agency.

  1. Completed Visa Application Form for each member of the family including children. Go to: http://www.visatorussia.com/russianvisa.nsf/consulate_form.html Look under “FOR US CITIZENS ONLY” Then click on “Click here to view or print this form.” THIS IS THE FORM WE FILLED OUT FOR ALL FIVE OF US. ANY OTHER FORM DID NOT SUFFICE. 6 millimeter margins! Either all handwritten or all typed. A combination of the two is not recommended. We filled ours out online and printed them out.
  2. Passport photographs. (We had two of each family member) The guy at the consulate affixed them for us. We wrote names on the backs of the pictures.
  3. The Consular fee (cash, postal order or money order only – NO CHECKS). We paid by credit card at the Bonn Consulate where we hand-carried our package. If you use a travel agent, methods vary.
  4. Passports. Must be valid for minimum of 6 months after scheduled to leave Russia and must have a full two pages empty for stamping the visas in your passport.
  5. Prepaid self-addressed envelope, using secure postal method (ONLY if you are using a processing agency and not hand carrying your package to the consulate).
  6. OFFICIAL INVITE LETTER: invitations for the appropriate tourist visa for which you can apply online at a number of websites for a fee: http://www.russianvisas.org/ or http://www.visatorussia.com/russianvisa.nsf/index.html
  7. We also brought an insurance policy to the consulate that we purchased for the time we will be in Russia (read about this online with the websites I provided). We used Seven Corners. It was about $90 total for the policy. We also brought our flight confirmation and flight info with us. If you use a processing agency, I would include these in the envelope.

NOTES ABOUT INVITE LETTERS: If you are traveling with a tourist group, Your tourist group company should handle your invite letter for you and maybe even process your visa applications once they are filled out. We were traveling privately and visiting a friend in Moscow so of course we were on our own to obtain our invite letter, and our friend who lives there provided us with our Official letter. You can also request an invite letter from the hotel in Russia where you make your reservations. Sometimes they will also provide this service. IT MUST be an official invite letter processed through Russia’s Office for issuing visas. Hotel vouchers alone do not suffice. Check with hotels when you are looking for a place to stay. Ask them if they provide official invitation letters. There are a lot of hotels in Moscow. This may be an inexpensive way to get your invite letter.

Travel agencies are great for processing your visa packages, but you will pay the travel agency, PLUS the visa processing agency they utilize, PLUS the Russian consulate who processes and issues your visa. And, even with the travel agency, you may have to obtain the invite letter on your own (in one of the aforementioned ways) prior to approaching them with your “package” if they don’t provide that service for you. The NATO travel agency on base is extremely nice and helpful.

We put all of our package together – refer to the list above required for Tourist Visas. Initially, we used the travel agency but the processing agency that the TA utilized rejected our application package. So when we corrected those mistakes (incorrect margin size on the printed application forms) we decided that rather than risk another rejection, we hand-carried our package to the Russian consulate in Bonn. We were there for ONE hour. The guy found our invite letter in the computer (remember this has to happen before you submit the package and when it is done right, it gets in the Russian System, MPF). He took our passports and other stuff and processed our applications. Make sure your application is correct and all the information is correct. We booked our flight travel ahead of time (German wings out of Cologne), so we had exact dates of travel on the visa application form.

“If Tour Group: Letter from tour company confirming itinerary and including a copy of the confirmation from authorized Russian travel company which shows the reference number and confirmation number for the visa. If Individual Travel: Confirmation of hotel arrangements from authorized Russian travel company, or directly from the Russian hotel, showing reference number and confirmation number for the visa.” Quoted from “www.visatorussia.com” We just used our flight confirm info.

The guy told us to come back a week later between 12:00 and 1:00 p.m. to pick up our passports with the visas. I returned to do so one week later as instructed. I arrived at 11:45, promptly received my passports with the visa stamps and was done by 12:00 p.m. I wouldn’t expect to email the consulate at Bonn and get an answer. Nor did I have any luck on the phone. We just drove there (no appt. required), turned in our stuff, and had NO problem. This was our experience. It was HALF the cost of what we would have paid to a travel agency/visa processing agency combo, and we were able to use our credit card at the Consulate.

Bonn consulate
Address: Waldstrasse, 42, 53177 Bonn
Phone: +49 228 312-085
Fax: +49 228 312-164
Telex: (41) 885615
E-mail: bonn@russische-botschaft.de,
konsulat@russische-botschaft.de
HOURS: 0900 to 1300 only Mon-Friday

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