I have a friend in Kaliningrad who wants to host me for a trip there in October - she is applying for a homestay visa for me. The problem is, she's a huge procrastinator and dragging her feet like crazy. I'm hoping I can just get the invitation from her, and then expedite my visa with the Washington DC consulate so I can fly as planned in October. But just in case she takes too long and drags her feet more, I was going to try and obtain a tourist visa as a backup. So my confusion lies in lodging and registration. I am OK with booking a hotel for say a couple of nights so I can be registered, etc., but I'm hoping that I'd have some freedom of movement after that and be able to just stay with my friend since it would be more convenient and cheaper. I'll only be there for 2 weeks, but booking a hotel for 2 weeks that I'm not going to stay at seems like a huge waste of money. I read that after my time at the hotel is up, I'll have to be registered again wherever I'm staying, and that having a private person register me may cause some problems. I'm combing the internet and finding no answers. So what I'm wanting to know, in a nutshell, is how do people travel independently in Russia without having to book a hotel the entire stay, and how does one go about registering themselves again after their stay at the hotel is over?
It’s recommended that the US citizens apply for a 3-year multiple-entry tourist visa regardless of the dates of entry/exit, number of entries or period of stay actually stated in the confirmation of the hotel reservation or confirmation of reception of the tourist.
When applying for a 3-year multiple-entry tourist visa, please indicate a three year period of stay in the visa application form.
So fill out the visa application using the three year date period and the hotel you booked for a couple of nights if you do not get the invite from your friend.
To register in a new town or city you would go to the UFMS office. You can also do it at many Post Offices.
Google "registering Russian visa in a new city" - lots of info
Do you think you'll go back to Russia? If so, the 3 year visa is a great deal. We ended up going to St. Petersburg and Moscow with our visa and enjoyed them both very much. You only need to book one night at a hotel to get their letter of invitation, usually for a $20-30 fee. As for traveling independently, each hotel will register your passport. Just save all your hotel receipts incase they ask for them at the airport when you leave (though no one has ever asked for ours). Do you live near a Rusuan consulate or embassy? If so, you can stop by to have them review your application and answer any other questions.
For clarification , the single entry and dual entry visas are identical to the three year visa insofar as the application procedure and cost ( consular fee for each is $ 160 USD per person , as of one year ago ) . Even if you have no immediate plans to return , taking the three year visa makes the most sense .