The Russian government has decided to focus more on tourism in recent years, and this includes making it easier for foreign tourists to visit. This is why, on August 8, 2017, the Russian e-visa was introduced. When it was first introduced, only Vladivostok and other Far East locations were accepting foreign tourists on an e-visa. However, since 1st July 2019, the Kaliningrad region can also be visited with an e-visa.
The Russian government plans to accept tourists from certain countries into the whole territory of Russia based on e-visas, by 2021. Unfortunately, the United States, UK, and Canada are not a part of this program. Things may change, but so far, only citizens of certain countries can use the benefits of an e-visa. If you are a citizen of the UK, Canada, or the USA, you should apply for a tourist visa to Russia for a stay of up to 30 days. If you plan to visit Russia for longer than 30 days, or need to visit for business reasons, you can apply for a business visa.
In this article, I’ll explain in detail what an e-visa is, what restrictions it has, who can apply, and much more.
What is an e-visa?
An e-visa (or electronic visa) is an alternative to normal visas. The process of applying and obtaining an e-visa is much easier, faster, and cheaper than the non-electronic alternative. The entire application process is done online, via the official website of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Unlike an ordinary tourist visa, you do not need an invitation letter or a hotel confirmation to be able to apply for an e-visa. Because of this simplicity, the e-visa has more restrictions, which I’ll describe in detail below.
Depending on the purpose of your trip, the intended duration of your stay in Russia, and other factors, the e-visa may not suit your requirements. For example, if you want to spend 15 days in Russia, visiting Moscow and St. Petersburg, an e-visa won’t work for you because of its restrictions. By the end of this article, you’ll have an idea of whether this type of visa is viable for you.
Where can I enter Russia with an e-visa?
The e-visa can be used for entering and leaving the Russian Federation at the following checkpoints, at the national border of the Russian Federation in the Far Eastern Federal District and Kaliningrad Oblast:
- air border checkpoints: “Kaliningrad (Khrabrovo)”, “Vladivostok (Knevichi)”, “Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky (Yelizovo)”, “Blagoveshchensk”, “Khabarovsk (Novy)”, “Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk (Khomutovo)”, “Anadyr (Ugolny)”, “Ulan-Ude (Muhino)”, “Chita (Kadala)”;
- maritime border checkpoints: “Kaliningrad” (checkpoints in the cities of Kaliningrad, Baltiysk and Svetly), “Vladivostok ”, “Zarubino”, “Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky”, “Korsakov”, “Posyet”;
- railway border checkpoints: “Mamonovo”, “Sovetsk”, “Pogranichny”, “Khasan”, “Makhalino”;
automobile border checkpoints: “Bagrationovsk”, “Gusev”, “Mamontovo (Grzechotki)”, “Mamontovo (Gronowo)”, “Morskoje”, “Pogranichny”, “Sovetsk”, “Chernyshevskoye”, “Poltavka”, “Turiy Rog”.
Who can apply for a Russian e-visa?
As I mentioned earlier, only citizens of certain countries are allowed to enter Russia. There are also restrictions based on the region you’re planning to visit.
IMPORTANT! Citizens of the US, UK, and Canada are not allowed to enter Russia with an e-visa. If you are a citizen of one of these countries, you will have to obtain a normal tourist visa or a business visa.
Who can enter Vladivostok (Far Eastern Federal District) with an E-visa?
An electronic visa to enter the Far Eastern Federal District (Vladivostok) can only be obtained by nationals from 18 states, listed a little further down.
The regions included in this list are namely:
- Primorsky Krai
- Sakhalin Oblast
- Kamchatka Krai
- Amur Region
- Khabarovsk Krai
- Chukotka Autonomous Okrug
- Republic of Buryatia
- Zabaykalsky Krai
Citizens from the following countries are allowed to apply for an e-visa for the regions mentioned above:
- China (including Taiwan)
- Saudi Arabia
- The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
- The United Arab Emirates
Who can enter Kaliningrad with an e-visa?
An e-Visa for Kaliningrad Oblast can only be obtained by nationals of the 53 countries listed by the Government of the Russian Federation.
- China (including Taiwan)
- The Czech Republic
- Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
- The Netherlands
- North Macedonia
- San Marino
- Saudi Arabia
What are the restrictions?
Due to the ease of application, the e-visa has some restrictions that might be relevant for you, depending on the purpose of your trip.
The e-visa is a single-entry visa, issued for 30 calendar days from the date of its creation. The permitted stay in the Russian Federation with an e-visa is up to 8 days starting from the date of entry, within its validity period. E-visa validity and/or the permitted stay under it cannot be extended.
ATTENTION! The permitted duration of stay in the Russian Federation of up to 8 days under an e-visa doesn’t mean you can stay for the entire 192 hours (24 hours multiplied by 8). The period of stay in the Russian Federation always starts at midnight of the day of passage through passport control upon entry, regardless of the actual time of passage through passport control. For example, if you have an e-visa valid from July 15 to August 13 and you pass through passport control upon entry at 8:00 pm on August 1, a Monday. In that case, you need to pass through passport control upon exit by 11:59 pm on August 8, Monday (rather than 8:00 pm on August 9, Tuesday). You should also note that if you passed through passport control upon entry, for instance, on August 10 with the e-visa mentioned in the example above, you need to pass through passport control upon exit by 11:59 pm on August 13, i.e. when the e-visa expires.
If you need to stay in Russia for more than 8 days, you can apply for a tourist visa, which allows you to stay for up to 30 days. If you plan to stay in Russia for longer than 30 days, you can apply for a business visa – it allows you to stay for up to one year.
Visit purpose restrictions
E-visas can only be from the following categories: ordinary business visa (purpose of the journey is business), ordinary tourist visa (purpose of the journey is tourism), and ordinary humanitarian visa (purposes of the journey are sports, cultural, scientific and technological ties).
If the purpose of your journey to the Russian Federation does not correspond to any of the above, you should apply for a traditional (non-electronic) visa at a diplomatic mission or consular office of the Russian Federation.
This restriction is usually the most inconvenient for visitors to Russia. If you decided to enter one of the regions allowed with an e-visa, you can only stay in that region.
For example, if you enter Kaliningrad with an e-visa, you can only stay in the Kaliningrad Oblast (region). This means you are NOT ALLOWED to visit Moscow, St. Petersburg, or any other city or region besides the region you got your e-visa for. Besides this, foreign citizens are only allowed to leave Russia via the checkpoints that they entered the country through. This means that, if you entered Russia through the Khrabrovo (Kaliningrad) air border checkpoint, you can’t leave through an automobile border checkpoint, to visit Poland for example.
As the e-visa doesn’t currently allow you to visit other cities and regions besides Kaliningrad and the Far East, you will have to apply for a tourist or a business visa in order to be able to visit Moscow, St. Petersburg or any other cities.
Foreign citizens who have arrived in the Russian Federation with e-visas are required to have medical insurance valid in the Russian Federation’s territory for the entire period of their stay.
How much does the Russian e-visa cost?
At the moment, the e-visa for Russia is free. Invitations, hotel booking confirmations or any other documents that confirm the purpose of your journey to the Russian Federation are not required for an e-visa. The timeframe for issuing an e-visa is no longer than 4 calendar days from the date of submission of the completed application.
How to apply for an e-visa to Russia?
The application process for an e-visa is similar to the application for a normal visa to Russia, except it’s much simpler. Below, I’ll explain each of the steps of the application process. Let’s dive right into it!
You can start the application process here.
Step 1: Choose your nationality and the area you want to visit
Choose your nationality. Then choose the area you want to get an e-visa for. Based on your nationality, you’ll be able to choose from eitherVolgograd (Far East) regions and Kaliningrad or just have the option of Kaliningrad, which is available to more nationalities.
After you choose your nationality and the visiting area, scroll to the bottom of the page and tick all three boxes, then click on “Fill out a new application form”.
Step 2: Application ID
In the next step, add your e-mail, choose a password and complete the captcha.
On the next page, you’ll see your application ID. Write it down and keep it safe, along with the password. If you decide to finish off the application at a later date, you’ll need both of them in order to be able to continue filling the application from where you previously got to.
Step 3: Personal Details
Now we start filling in the actual application form. In the first step, you’ll have to add your personal details such as:
- Your nationality
- Your surname
- Your first name, middle names, patronymic names
- Indicate whether you have ever had other names
- Your gender (sex)
- Your date of birth
- Your place of birth
Make sure that all the information you enter matches the data in your passport.
Step 4: Visit Details
In the next step, you will have to provide information about your visit. Provide the following data:
- The purpose of your visit (business, tourist, sports relations, cultural relations, scientific-technical relations)
- The area you are going to visit (visit area)
- Your date of entry into Russia (Remember that you can’t apply for the e-visa earlier than 20 days before your intended date of entry)
Your intended places of stay in the Russian Federation
- Type of accommodation (hotel or individual)
- Name of the hotel/organization that will be hosting you
- The address of the hotel/organization you are going to stay in
- Phone number of the hotel/organization
- Fax number of the hotel/organization (if available)
- E-mail address of the hotel/organization (if available)
Lastly, indicate whether you have ever visited Russia before. If the answer is yes, you will have to provide information on your previous visits:
- How many times you’ve been to Russia
- Date of your last trip to Russia
- Date of your last exit from Russia
Step 5: Documents details
In this step, you’ll have to provide the following information about your passport:
- Type of passport (touristic – the ordinary passport most of us have, official passport, diplomatic passport)
- Your passport number including the series number
- Date of issue
- Date of expiry
Step 6: Contacts and occupation
On this page, you’ll have to provide information regarding your residential address and your work (or study) place.
If you have a permanent residential address, provide the following information:
- Your permanent address
- Your phone number (not obligatory)
- Your fax (not obligatory)
If you work or study, provide the following information:
- Name of the employer
- Your work position
- Your employer address
- Your work telephone number
- Your work fax (not obligatory)
- Your work email (not obligatory)
Step 7: Relatives’ details
Here you’ll have to indicate whether you currently have any relatives in Russia.
If the answer is yes, provide the following information:
- How you’re related (Relation degree)
- The surname of the relative
- First name of the relative
- Date of birth of your relative
- Relative’s address in Russia
Click “Add” to enter information on additional relatives. You don’t have to provide information about everyone you know in Russia, 1-2 relatives’ data should be enough.
Step 8: Summary
Congratulations! You have completed your application for an e-visa to Russia. On this page, you can check your information one more time, and then submit the application.
How will I know if my request was approved?
As previously mentioned, the processing of your application shouldn’t take more than 4 working days. In my case, my application was approved in just 2 days.
You will receive two e-mails after you finish your application, one saying that your application was accepted and is being processed, and the other – notifying you that your application for an electronic visa was completed.
The first e-mail looks like this. By clicking on the link, you will be taken to a page where you can track the status of your application.
The second e-mail you will receive will hopefully notify you that your visa application was successful.
Click on “here” to go to the download page. On the download page, click on the button “Download notice” and you’ll get your E-visa downloaded on your computer. If you want it to be e-mailed to you – click “Send an e-mail notification”.
E-visa for Russia: Example
Below, you will find an example of how your electronic visa should look once your application was approved.
How long does it take to get the e-visa?
The application has to be processed in a maximum of 4 days. You can track the status of your application on this page. In order to track the application, you need to enter your application ID and the password you used.
Should I apply for the e-visa?
Let’s compare the e-visa with other types of visas and see which one will suit your needs the best.
|Type of visa||Length of stay||Cost (pounds)||Where you can go||Easiness to get|
|E-visa||8 days||FREE||Kaliningrad and Vladivostok (far east)||very easy|
|Tourist visa||30 days||~125||Everywhere in Russia||easy|
|Business visa||up to 1 year||from ~175||Everywhere in Russia||hard|
Hopefully, I could help you understand what is an e-visa to Russia and who should apply for it.
If you ask me, it is really great that the Russian government introduced this type of visa and is working towards increasing the number of tourists in the country. At this point, however, not many people will be able to benefit from it because of its restrictions, especially geographical. I am sure that the number of cities and regions you will be able to visit with an e-visa will grow, and eventually, foreign tourists will be able to go anywhere in Russia with an e-visa.
At this moment, applying for an e-visa is the best choice for you if:
- you plan to visit either Kaliningrad or the Russian Far East (Vladivostok)
- you don’t plan to stay longer than 8 days
- you don’t plan to visit any other cities and regions in Russia