I read in Rick Steves' St. Petersburg, Helsinki & Talllinn book that when entering the country, you may be asked to show your visa invitation. We went through CIBT to get our VISA and never got a copy of the invitation, just the VISA. Do we need the invitation at the border also?
Entering Russia, I just had to show my visa, passport and boarding pass. Immigration will fill out a form that you will sign before being granted entry. Leave the form in your passport. You will need it when you try to exit the country.
Exiting Russia is just as much fun as entering!!
If you have Russian visa in your ID, of course you do not need any extra invitations.
The Visa service companies have pre-arrangements with hotels in Russia to provide invitations to their customers obtaining visas. So as long as you already have a visa in your passport you don't need to show an invitation. You're under no obligation to stay at the hotel where the invitation originated from.
All you will need is your Russian VISA. The letter is one of the prerequisites for the VISA itself.
Thanks everyone! That's a relief. Now we can look forward to the trip!