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Russian Visa (& Belarus)

Hello -- I've been trying to learn about the Russian visa (yes, I want to stay in Russia more than 72 hours, so I will go to the trouble).
What I'can't get a grip on is: does the visa need to state the exact dates I will enter and leave Russia? In other words, can I get the visa with approximate dates and finalize plans later, or do I have to wait till I know exactly what I'm going to do.
Problem is, I have to wait till later to get the summer timetable for the Moscow-Paris train, but I would like to get started on this visa business.
Also, anyone with experience with a Belarus visa? Evidently you need to have one on that train, because it passes through Belarus and they check it on the train.

Posted by
1888 posts

With the Russian visa, you cannot enter before your visa date starts and must leave before the last date of your visa. But you have flexibily within the visa dates. You need a letter of invitation to get the visa, but do not need all your lodging booked before you go. They just need to register each hotel in your passport when you stay in a hotel. We did a regular visa to Belarus last year, so I am not sure about the transit visa. I recommend checking into flights between Moscow and Paris (check Matrix-IT) for the cheapest flights. From what I've heard, the train trip is very long, and not that cheap or pleasant. We even ended up flying from Belarus to Moscow because it was only $75 and took an hour. By the way, we stayed at The Garden Ring Hotel in Moscow and loved it. It has very nice quiet rooms and a good breakfast buffet. We booked through

Posted by
109 posts

Thank you both for your replies. I love this forum--it never lets me down.
Anyway, Becky's reply made me a little concerned about the Moscow-Paris train--if it's nice enough to commit 2 days to. (I'm not expecting perfect, just don't want to be miserable.)
Anyone have direct experience with it? Reasonably comfortable ? (I'm going to do my own compartment--senior fare for that isn't bad). Scenic at all? I really like solo train travel so that's a plus. Thanks!

Posted by
3940 posts

I agree with Becky . Four to six hours on a train ( and I love trains ! ) is the reasonable time frame I would consider , a flight would be more appropriate . There has been much discussion about night trains , and the general consensus is that they are more romantic in fantasy than in actual practice - noisy , poor ventilation , difficulty with sleep . In addition , on a trip of that length , it's a time killer for your sightseeing . Our planned trip this coming fall has us flying NYC to Moscow , SAPSAN train ( four hours ) to St Petersburg , and then a two hour flight to Berlin .

Posted by
15143 posts

If you fly into the capitol of Belarus, then starting next month you will be able to stay for 5 days without a visa (EU and US Citizens) ... or so I have read.....,,,

Posted by
7384 posts

The rules are different for every country, but if you are an AMerican then you should get a 3 year visa which costs the same and requires exactly the same application as a one one week visa. We used ours for a visit in October a year ago and again this past October. WE could go again this summer if we wanted to. Once you have it you don't need to mess with more invitations and such; you have it. To be safe, get it for a few days before your planned entry and that way if plans changed you are good. You work through the consulate assigned to your region. I live in Chicago and had to get it through Washington DC oddly and thus had to go through the expensive mail service they designate. If you live nearby you can save a bit by doing it in person.