How to Visit Russia as an American

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Today we want to share with you something special:

If you’re an American looking to plan a trip to Russia, here are your travel options:

While US citizens are welcome with visas upon arrival in 184 countries around the world, Russia is not one of them. US citizens must obtain a Russian tourist visa before they are allowed to leave for the country.

At least for now, there's a gap: Cruise passengers can visit Russia without a tourist visa for up to 72 hours, assuming they follow a strict set of rules.

How to Get a Russian tourist visa

Americans who wish to visit Russia on tourist visas have two options: a single entry visa for $ 113 or a multiple entry visa for $ 273. It is recommended to apply for travel visas for Russia 30 to 90 days before departure, But procrastinators can often overpay to expedite visa applications.

The first step in obtaining a visa to visit Russia is to obtain a formal invitation. This is easier than it sounds. The Petr Hotel in St. Petersburg, Russia, for example, offers visa invitation letters to guests instantly online for a fee of $ 16. Many hotels, tour operators, and travel agents offer similar services.

Once you receive your invitation letter, you will need to fill out an online Russian tourist visa form, but be prepared. The app asks for a detailed record of your last decade of traveling abroad, as well as information about your education, parents, occupation, and involvement with professional or other organizations. If you are an avid traveler, it may take a while.

After completing your application, you will need to submit it to a visa processing company and pay the required fees. Travisa, CIBT Visas, and Allied Passport & Visa are among the companies you can use. For Travisa, the processing fees start at $ 164, but that is in addition to the fee for the visa itself.

You will need to submit your physical passport and two passport size photographs as part of the process. If approved, your passport will be returned to you with a full-page Russian tourist visa.

Obtaining a visa to visit Russia can be a good way to avoid the crowds that often accompany large cruise ships, and to have more time and freedom to explore on your own terms.

The queues at the Hermitage Museum and elsewhere are noticeably shorter after the cruise ships leave the city, leaving a more authentic feeling in St. Petersburg. If you plan to visit Moscow and St. Petersburg, you will need more than 72 hours and will be better served if you have a Russian tourist visa.

If this sounds like more work than you want, you will have to embark.

Go on a visa-free cruise to Russia

Passengers visiting Russia on cruise ships or via ferry services can stay in the country for up to 72 hours without a visa. This option limits your time and independence in Russia.

If you are on a large cruise line that will stop in St. Petersburg, you will need to purchase a shore tour from the operator or book a city tour with a local company. You'll need to stay with your tour group the entire time you're on land, so kiss them casually goodbye.

If you choose the St. Peter Line ferry from Helsinki, you will have a little more freedom, but not much. You will have to sleep on the ferry or in one of the many pre-approved hotels. You'll also need to take the company's tour bus tour, something that will consume what little precious time you actually have on land.

And while you don't need a tourist visa, you still have to go through Russian customs, which can be an experience.

It is worth bearing in mind that the St. Peter Line ferry is not a luxury cruise ship. Rooms are small and basic, with the cheapest options costing around $ 230, not including extras like the mandatory tour of the coast, an extra $ 30 per person. There are restaurants, bars, and a nightclub on board, but the ships that sail this route look like something out of the 1990s.

This option will save you visa fees and the hassle of applying for a Russian travel visa, but it comes at a cost. Ferry times typically have passengers arriving in St. Petersburg around 9 a.m. after an overnight trip from Helsinki and departing two days later around 7 p.m., giving visitors just 58 hours to explore a sprawling metropolitan area that was once Russia's imperial capital for two centuries and remains its cultural capital.

We hope you enjoy watching this video about How to get a Russian tourist visa in 4 easy steps


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