Destiny G
Guest

Is it necessary to be with a travel agency when applying for tourist visa to Russia?

I would like to travel with my friend to Russia alone, without being part of a tourist group. However, it is my understanding that there is a higher rejection for tourist visa application without an accompanying letter from a travel agency. Is this really the case? Also, because my itinerary is required for the Russian visa, does it mean that I must have purchased my plane tickets *before* the visa application?

Thanks!

Seryan
Guest

Re: Is it necessary to be with a travel agency when applying for tourist visa to Russia?

The higher rate of rejection story that you heard was probably from a travel agency. You do not have to use a travel agency, and not using one will not decrease your chance of getting a visa. It's pretty hard to get rejected for a Russian visa if you fill out the forms and submit them correctly. I've never even heard of anyone having to go for an interview, though the Russian Embassy and Consulates reserve that right.
     You should not buy your tickets in advance; this is always a poor move when applying for a visa to most countries and you do not need to send in any bank statements.
     You need to make your hotel reservations long in advance, because your faxed or scanned hotel reservation will serve as your invitation.

     This is not a complicated process (tourist visa) and certainly does not require the assistance of a tour agency. I've done this 6 times in the past without ever having any problem. If you can follow instructions, you can do it easily.
    Go the the Russian Embassy website and read the instructions, download the forms, and have a great time. One thing you need to know is that when you send everything to the Embassy or Consulate serving your area, (this is shown on the website also, but you can use the Washington Embassy regardless of where in the US you live) you will need to enclose a stamped self addressed envelope to get your passport and visa back to you. I typically used a 2nd day mail package, with the postage already on it, folded, from the Post office.

   While it is necessary to register with the Russian authorities within three working days of your arrival, your hotel does this for you and you are not even involved with the process. It's the "inviter" who is responsible for registration.
    As far as your itinerary goes, you just need to list the different Russian cities that you are planning to visit.

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C.M.Roge
Guest

Re: Is it necessary to be with a travel agency when applying for tourist visa to Russia?

Allan,

Yes. You would have to buy your ticket, reserve your hotel room (copies of reservation confirmations required), as well as provide a copy of your bank statement I believe proving that you have enough funds to freely roam around Russia. Also, depending on the length of your stay, as a foreign citizen you would need to "register" with Russian authorities soon after arrival.

Most people travel to Russia with tourist groups for the reason you yourself mentioned - the travel agencies know "the process", and can, for a fee, take care of everything for you. It is very similar situation when a Russian applies for a tourist visa to go to the U.S. alone - the rejection is most likely to follow. While if he or she is invited here by a U.S. citizen, or if he or she goes with a group, the possibility of getting a visa is more likely...

Hope this helps!

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mmm33
Guest

Re: Is it necessary to be with a travel agency when applying for tourist visa to Russia?

If you go alone you will either need to be invited into the country or find a visa and a detailed itinerary. I would assume you need to buy the ticket before getting the visa so you have the documentation. I was invited to a friend's house (but have yet to go) in Russia and there was no problem getting me in.