If you’re off to Russia for business travel, to attend a meeting, conference, or other work related activity, you’ll need a visa.
All UK citizens will need to get the correct visa type for their purposes, pay a visa fee, and give biometric data before they travel to Russia¹. To find out more about the visa application process, supporting documents needed, where to find your nearest visa application centre, and the likely visa processing times, read on.
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The first thing you’ll need to do is find the right visa type for your needs. You can choose from the following common types of business visa²⁺³:
- Single entry 90 day business visa
- 90 day business visa, which allows you to enter/exit Russia up to two times
- 6 month, multi-entry business visa
- 12 month, multi-entry business visa
Multi-entry business visas allow an unrestricted number of journeys to and from Russia during the valid period, handy if you’re making multiple business trips over a period of time.
A standard business visa is issued for a stay of up to 90 days, but you can also get long stay visas which can be valid for to up to 12 months. When you’re applying for your visa, you’ll need to specify which visa type, and duration you require.
The fees for different visa types vary, and you might need slightly different documents depending on the visa you decide to apply for.
If you decide to stay for longer in Russia, you'll need to extend your visa, or leave the country to re-apply for a new one. Visa extensions can be issued by the same company which issued your original paperwork, so it’s a good idea to check back with you agent, or talk to your visa application centre, if you’re considering applying for an extension⁴.
Business visas are used for people entering Russia for business purposes, such as attending a conference or meeting, or researching business opportunities. A business visa is not the same as a work permit, so you can’t take up paid employment in Russia while you’re on a business visa.
The Russian authorities are known to be very strict about enforcing visa and immigration laws, so it’s worth taking advice about which visa type you need, if you’re in any doubt.
You can apply for your Russian business visa directly with a visa application centre near to you, or else you can work with an agent to prepare your application. Some of the documents required can be easier to obtain if you use a visa agent, although if you’ve been invited to Russia to visit another business there, they may be able to provide you with the paperwork needed, instead.
If you choose to use a visa agent, there may be an additional fee to pay, and you’ll still have to attend a visa application centre in person, to give biometric data like fingerprints.
The documents you’ll require include the following⁵⁺⁶:
- A valid passport, with 2 blank pages, which runs for at least 6 months beyond the end of the visa period
- A recent passport photo
- Completed online application form
- An invitation letter from the General Directorate for Migration for the Ministry of Internal Affairs for Russia - a visa agent can help obtain this, or if you’re visiting a Russian business, they may provide it for you
- Letter from your employer, or yourself, confirming the nature of your travel, your purpose and how you’ll pay for your stay
- You may also need to provide financial evidence to show you can afford your visit
To apply for your Russian business visa, you’ll need to take the following steps⁷:
- Confirm the type of visa you need, based on the categories available to you
- Complete the online application, and confirm which visa application centre you’ll visit. There are several application centres in the UK, but their processes work slightly differently, so it’s a good idea to check which will suit you before you start
- Print your online form, and assemble all the documents needed to support your visa application
- You’ll then have to visit your local visa application centre to give fingerprints, pay your fee, and show your paperwork. More on how that works, below
- Once your application has been accepted, you can track its progress online
When you visit the Russian Embassy in London, or a regional visa application centre, you’ll need to take all your paperwork along to be assessed, and pay your fee. When you arrive, you’ll be given a token and asked to wait until your turn is called. When your token is called, you can show your documents and will be advised about visa collection times. You’ll then need to track the progress of your application online before returning to get your passport and visa once it's ready⁷.
Before you can get your visa, you’ll have a fee to pay. You can pay this fee in person when you visit the visa application centre, in cash, by card or using a postal order⁷.
If you need to pay for your accomodation in Russia, or for local transportation, and you need a currency conversion to make this payment, a great way to switch your money using the mid-market exchange rate, is with TransferWise. The mid-market exchange rate is the one banks use when they buy and sell currency on the global markets, and the best benchmark to use when making sure you get a good deal on your exchange. However, most banks and exchange services don’t offer customers the mid-market rate - they add a markup instead, which means you pay more.
To find out more about how to get a great deal on international payments and currency conversion, here and once you arrive in Russia, check out TransferWise.
The processing time depends on a few factors, including how busy the service is at the time you apply. You can also pay more for an expedited service if you’re in a hurry.
Applying for your visa in London will usually take 20 days using the standard service, and can take as little as 3 days if you use the express system. Applications filed in Manchester will take a day or two longer, as the paperwork needs to be sent to London for processing.
If you apply in Edinburgh the standard service takes around 5 days and the express service may only take a day to process. Once you’ve applied for your visa, you can see how it progresses through the system, using the online tracking service³.
If you apply for a visa directly at the Russian embassy or a visa application centre, you’ll pay the following fees when you have the British nationality³:
- Single entry visa - standard processing: £63
- Single entry visa - urgent processing: £125
- Double entry visa - standard processing: £101
- Double entry visa - urgent processing: £200
- Multi-entry visa - standard processing: £188
- Multi-entry visa - urgent processing: £376
There's also a service fee of £38.40 for the standard service, and £45.60 for an urgent service, and an additional cost if you choose to have your passport and visa returned to you by post instead of collecting it in person.
If you choose to apply for a visa using an agent, you can expect to pay more for the service. Depending on the visa type you need, you might find you’re charged £275 - £795. ⁶ Make sure you’re clear on the fees and the service you’re buying if you choose to follow this route to obtaining your Russian business visa.
Before you book your travel to Russia, you’re advised to get your visa arrangements in place. There are many agents who can help you get the documents you need, and complete your application form - but you’ll still have to attend a visa processing centre or embassy to provide your fingerprints in person.
Once you have submitted your paperwork and received your Russian business visa, you’re free to start setting up the finer details of your travel, and getting ready to enjoy your business trip to Russia.
Sources used for this article:
*All sources checked on February 28, 2019
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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