Please sign in to post.

Visas for Petersburg

We are going to Russia for the first time this fall and have rented an apartment in Petersburg for 10 nights. This meant we needed visas. We obtained invitations from the landlord, and then applied by mail. Since we live in Chicago that meant Washington DC. The cost was 160$ for each Visa and 70 for mail processing (I think it is 35 if you can walk in and pick up). I paid an extra $25 each so that if there were errors they could correct them. But our applications arrived water damaged and so instead of them fixing the errors, they just sent everything back and we did it again. I packed the materials in a plastic bag inside the USPS priority mailer the second time and it worked fine. They also sent back our two $25 fees for fixing errors.

Once they had the completed material, it took two weeks. The $160 Visa fee is the same for a single entry or a 3 year visa so we got 3 year visas. If we love it, we may go again next year.

It is pricey which suggests spending more time in the country -- I didn't realize how pricey when I planned, but the process at least so far has been smooth and the contact at the company that processes these things was very helpful.

Posted by
333 posts

You will LOVE Russia! My daughter and I were there in July of 2012 for a river cruise and we spent extra days in Moscow- wish we had spent a couple extra in St Petersburg too, it's such a lovely city! Russia is pricey, but for what (for most) is a once in a lifetime trip, it's worth it! If you get the chance to take a canal cruise through St Petersburg, do so- it's a lovely way to see the city (and keep a special eye out for Chizhik Pizhek)!

Posted by
2020 posts

Actually right now is a great time to go. Russia's Ruble has taken quite the hit. We found it very cheap last month

Posted by
7205 posts

An added note: I never use USPS for anything that has even the remotest value. If you want to make sure your package is delivered safe and secure on time use Fedex or some other professional service...not the dismal USPS.

Posted by
1730 posts

We also got the 3 year visa. We went to St. Petersburg 2 years ago and went to Moscow this year. We enjoyed both places very much. We have some American miles and are planning to end our trip in Moscow next year. We used Rick's restaurant ideas for St. Petervrurg- they were all good. The Hermitage is great (we went 4 times). Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
6632 posts

Did you buy your Hermitage tickets on line before you went. We are getting mixed info on that here. We are planning on 4 days there also.

How did you arrange your Catherine Palace visit.

Posted by
7205 posts

Yes, definitely buy those Hermitage tickets in advance. We strolled right into the Hermitage bypassing HUNDREDS of people standing in a non-moving line. You'll be glad you did.

Arranging a Catherine's Palace (Pushkin) Tour for us was via www.toursbylocals.com We've used it several times in various parts of Europe and even used it on our first trip to St Petersburg and Catherine's Palace. This time we chose Nikolai M. as our guide. He was by FAR the cheapest AND he picked us up at our hotel in his own car. The 1st time we went to Catherine's Palace we booked a guide who was excellent, but we took public transport to Pushkin because a private driver was (and is) an added cost. Nikolai M. also went with us to lunch at a little local Russian restaurant (full of locals) just outside the palace area...about a 4 minute drive. We had an excellent time with him: http://www.toursbylocals.com/pushkin

Posted by
2020 posts

We did not buy our Hermitage tickets in advance, but did purchase them at the electronic ticket kiosk just inside the courtyard I think it took 10 minutes or so.

If you do buy in advance, you will need to go to Kiosk just as you enter the courtyard to trade the voucher for ticket, looked pretty fast too.

Posted by
6632 posts

Carol Were the tickets from the Kiosk for that day only or might we buy them for the next day? We have two day tickets/vouchers purchased on line, but will probably want 4 days at the Hermitage. We are thinking of waiting and getting them from machines in late September. When did you use the machines? Cash or credit cards? WEre they for immediate use only?

Posted by
2020 posts

Sorry, Since I Have not been planning a trip I haven't been on the forums.

I honestly don't recall if the tickets at the kiosk had to be used the day you purchased them or not. I know I didn't pick a date just a number of tickets.

Posted by
6872 posts

Hi Janet,
Would you mind sharing which company/agency processed your Visa application for you (was is obvious, or a third-party through the apartment)? You can just PM me if you'd like.
Thanks!

Posted by
6632 posts

The apartment agent manages invitations; you use the invitation to apply through the Russian consulate in the US (or wherever you are) to get the visa. Our apartment agent used Palytra travel agency to issue invitations which she sent on to us; there was a fee involved (hotels will do it free). We had to go to the Palytra travel agency office to register in Petersburg; it required two trips -- they submitted the registration and then we had to go back to pick it up. they can email it but we didn't have a printer.