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Russian visa: visiting friends in Russia?

Hi, we've never been to Russia and have never gone through the visa process. I understand Travisa offers a streamlined process. My question: since we are not staying in a hotel, where do you recommend we obtain an 'invitation' if we are visiting friends in Russia? Travisa's rate seems rather high ($50 per invitation).
I'd rather not have our friends go through any unnecessary hassle if it can be helped.

Posted by
8997 posts

My understanding is that the people you are staying with must send out a "homestay" invitation to some government office in Russia, and only then can you apply for a visa. Here's more info from another visa expeditor: You should head over to the TripAdvisor Russia forums. There are lots of locals over there who know the system better.

Posted by
11 posts

If you choose to apply for a tourist visa note that it can be valid only up to 30 days. In case you want to stay longer with your friends you will need private invitations from them.
You will also need to register when you arrive. We got our visa invitations from Palladium Travel, a local tour company, but the registration was taken care of by the hotel.

Posted by
289 posts

I went to Russia last year and used Travisa's service to obtain our Visas. It was pricey but straight-forward and I'd use again. I second the recommendation to head over to the TA forums. For my trip last year I spent most of my time in there (for the Baltic States as well) and they are a wealth of information, especially when it comes to the Visa process. Good luck!