To be honest, if I had known about the visa process to Russia, I dont think I would have drank that glass of wine that caused me to buy the ticket… yes, I am blaming it on the alcohol…
So that night, I went on my favorite budget travel site, www.momondo.com and bought a ticket to St. Petersburg, after a convo with my friend, she said “dont you have to have a visa to go to Russia?” that is when I started the process (thanks girl) and good thing I bought my ticket like three months in advance cause I needed the time.
I went to the consulate office here in Houston, then the sent me to the visa office a couple blocks up the street. They told me they needed the following to get the process started:
- A copy of my current passport
- Printed visa application (tourist visa) form- https://visa.kdmid.ru/PetitionChoice.aspx
- A passport photo
- An invitation from the place you are staying
- $190 bucks for the visa (as of December 2015)
So all this to say, you cant buy a ticket to Russia and just pop up in Russia.
This process took me about a month and a half, and here are the hiccups I came across:
I didnt have an invitation or where to get one because I was going to stay with a friend, but they want an invitation from your hotel.
I got lucky in the situation because I randomly told a friend who once lived in St. Petes my dilemma. He happened to have friends who owned a hostel there, and they were able to hook me up with an official invitation for $17 bucks. Otherwise, the lady at the visa counter gives you a number to someone who can “help” you for $50 bucks. The hostel actually sent me the invitation in less than 24 hours. And no, I could not get an invitation from my friend who lived there, I think unless they are an immediate family member.
My passport was the biggest delay.
After I filled out the visa application, got my passport photo, my invitation done, and the $190 dollars ready, the lady looks at my passport and says I dont have enough pages in my passport… if you could only imagine my face! I had one visa page and 2 stamp pages. Apparently to get into Russia, I needed 2 available visa pages, and more stamp pages (you also need more than 6 months on your passport before it expires, I had exactly 7 good months before mine expired.)
I was given 2 options, get a new passport or add more pages to it. Either way, I was not getting my visa with what I had.
I opted to get a new passport since I needed a new one in a couple months, plus it was just more cost effective to just get a new one. My passport was due 4-8 weeks after that, luckily I got it in 4 or 5 weeks.
The very next day I went back to the visa office and they had my visa ready in 10 days. Russia here I come! Russia is single handedly the most difficult country I’ve tried to get into and the most expensive (insert the angry emoji here.) But I am super excited and ready to see this country!
I’m looking forward to updating how that goes in a blog coming soon.
*note: to make sure you have all of your ducks in a row, check out this website for step- by-step instructions on how to get your visa *beware* its not pretty. https://russia.travisa.com/