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Russian Visa--Is 3 year visa mandatory?

Today I cancelled an excellent airfare on Expedia into St. Petersburg (and out of Vilnius) because of my understanding of the Russian visa rules on the US consulate's and website. Basically, in bold, on both websites, it says US citizens as of Jan 2017 now need to purchase a 3 year, multi point visa entrance for $270. This does not seem worth the expense as I just wanted to spend 5 or 6 days in St. Petersburg and then go on to the Baltic states. I don't envision traveling back to Russia in the next 2 years. My question is, am I reading this correctly? The visa application is online and I am wondering if I chose (or if it is possible to choose the single entry visa (which says it is $90), will my application be rejected because the 3 year visa is mandatory (not just recommended)? I thought about calling the consulate in Washington on Monday.

Thank you!

Posted by
436 posts

IIRC, it is a recommendation, not a requirement, and has been for the past couple of years. So, unless something changed VERY recently, you should have no problem applying for the cheaper visa.

As recently as last week we have applied for a single-entry tourist visa for a family member (via an intermediary tourist agency) - haven't gotten the passports back yet. If we do run into some kind of a problem, I will let you know.

ETA: I'm not familiar with the site you mentioned. AFAIK, the official (a bit outdated) site is, and an official (?) tourist portal is As to the US consulate's website - I'd rather check the site of Russian embassy/consulates ( for up-to-date set of requirements.