Russian Visas Excetera

by Mark
(Winston Salem N.C.)

I have read this site once. I'm re-reading it again. I have been invited to spend a few weeks 2-3 with a new Russian Woman I've meet.

I have applied for my Passport. Of course I thank you for this site, and I'm wishful for a smooth trip. Both to and home from Russia.

I will be staying at her place. She has only told me 3 things. First I ask you of these.

1. She says to place her address on my papers once I buy a ticket. Her English is good but not perfect so; I am not sure what papers she means. I have time however to translate her an email with ?'s However do you have advice about this in general?

2. She says "Do not leave airport in Moscow", "It is very dangerous to do so"? Yes, or No?

3. She says "I'll lay over in Moscow", then board plane to Stavropol Russia. And she will pick me up any time, day or night. Whatever. No problem she says.

4. Do I need a Visa to make the trip described above? Destination Moscow, then Stavropol?

P.S. About #4, I mailed a card to her. For her name day. So she can receive it and show it to me in Skype. My way of knowing her info is not BS, no tricks on me. Did I do good with this idea also?

5. If I need Visa for Stavropol, how much does all the paperwork cost please. The Visa, and the invitation if needed? Thank you, it would help me greatly to know, (All potential cost, and necessary things for this trip that are administrative, paperwork, how to, and names of item/s? Thank you so very much.


Bob's Answer:

I'm glad to see you jump right in, but I am a little concerned. When I met my ex we spoke on Skype video 4-5 times/week for 4 months by the time I was boarding a plane to visit, and by then I had no doubts that would have required I mail her something to show me on Skype.

And I'm not usually a big fan of the "confirmations of authenticity" guys come up with ("send me a picture of you holding up a sign with my name on it and the numbers 34234").

When I met my ex online we spoke on Skype 4-5 times/week for several months, and by the time I was planning a trip I didn't have any doubt about her authenticity. And, had I attempted to test her somehow I'm pretty sure it would have ended the relationship. The same is true of a girl I'm in touch with now... I know she's authentic. I can't tell you all how I know, I just know. But I'm even more sure that if I did this authenticity trick it will end the relationship.

And, you may find this in the answers on my Q&A sections, I personally believe that in most cases when a woman is willing to comply with such tests I'm even more concerned because the actual authentic reaction would be one of offense!

I don't know that this means your girl is up to something, but I advise against that.

Anyway, let me get to the numbered questions:

1) You will not only need a passport, but you will need a visa to visit Russia. It's been 5-6 years since I was last in Russia, so you'll want to verify everything I say. I hate linking directly because the page address can change and break the link, so do a web search for "u.s. travel to Russia". Search results at and usually have the most reliable and up-to-date information.

But I DO remember that when I applied for visas to visit it was required that I specify the address(es) where I would be staying. Not only that, but one is also required to register in any city where he'll be staying. My ex did that for me, so I'm not sure the details.

You will also need an "invitation letter".

I used the services of VisaHQ. Some apply for these visas directly with the Russian Embassy, but I felt a little more secure going through a service like this where I could get confirmation on all the required steps.

2) Is it dangerous to leave airport in Moscow? Depends on what she means by "dangerous". As someone new to Russia there are a lot of risks involved with deviating from the plan. First, you could simply get LOST. Actually you probably would get lost! When you try to leave the airport you are accosted by the most assertive taxi drivers in the world, and they may not all be honest (understatement).

There is also some legal risk if you don't properly register in a city where you're visiting (and you list every city you want to visit on the visa application).

So the only reasonable approach is definitely to fly into Moscow, proceed directly to your outbound Russian domestic flight to Stavropol (after collecting bags if they aren't checked all the way through to Stavropol).

Actually, that looks like it addresses point #3, although there is no question on #3 :)

Oh, looks like #4 is already answered above... Yes, you need a visa to enter Russia, and on that visa there will be listed the cities you are allowed to visit (which you specify on your application).

Those links above will have the most accurate, up-to-date cost figures and other requirements. At VisaHQ you select U.S. and Russia (citizen of, traveling to) and it takes you to a page showing you all the documentation you need to provide, an application you must complete, and a list of all the fees. There's also a phone number for a free consult.

Hope that helps!


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