The capital of Russia, Moscow, is the most populated city in Russia but also in Europe with more than 15 million inhabitants in its metropolitan area. Beyond its effervescence, Moscow is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in the world. From the emblematic Red Square to the mythic Bolchoï theater, the Russian capital provides you with an endless variety of activities and landscapes. Among the wonders the city has to offer, travelers will be able to experience the majestic Kremlin, the flamboyant Saint Basil’s Cathedral and all its colors, the Tretyakov Gallery or the Pushkin Museum. But as much as you’d like visiting Moscow, the entry requirements for British citizens may seem unclear. A trip to Moscow must be planned ahead. The first thing you need to know is you cannot visit the city without a Moscow visa, but once you are there, it is a real delight to visit the city.
Do I need a visa for Moscow?
For travelers holding a valid British passport, the first requirement is to apply for a visa up to six months before your travel date. A visa is an official document issued by the representative of the Government of a country allowing you to enter for a specific period of time. The visa is adhesive and will be attached to your passport. It will specify your entry and exit dates but also your name, your passport details, and the purpose of your travel.
Indeed, citizens of the United Kingdom cannot visit the Russian Federation without a visa.
Please note, there is no specific visa for Moscow. You must obtain an ordinary Russian visa from the list of visas available at the Russian Embassy before your trip. Depending on the purpose of your trip, as well as the accommodation, the length of your stay and the number of entries, you can apply for one of the following visa types:
Moscow visa requirements
First of all, choose the type and the category of the visa you need to visit Russia.
According to your choice fill in the correct registration form on the following website.
Print the form and collect all the required documents to apply in person to the Visa Application Centre in London or Edinburgh. Russian visa application centres operate as walk-in centres, no appointments are required. At the desk, the agent will examine your documents, before handling your application. If everything is completed, the agent will give you a receipt. You will get all the information necessary to track your application online. Please note that the agent will keep your passport until the decision has been made. You will find the adhesive visa inside the passport if your application has been approved. In order to pick up your passport at the Visa Application Centre, you will be asked to present the original receipt, not a copy. If you are picking up the passport on behalf of someone, you have to submit a letter of authorization and a copy of the original receipt from the person for whom you are collecting the passport.
Beware, the UK citizens over twelve years must visit an application visa centre to also submit their biometric data by going through a biometric scanning procedure. The fingerprinting procedure can be performed at the Russian Visa Application Centres in London, Manchester or Edinburgh.
The visa request will be processed between 3 and 20 business days. You can choose between the standard (between 17-32 working days) or the express service (between 10-13 days) in order to speed up the process. Make sure your passport is valid for a minimum period of six months after the expiry date of your visa. It must not be damaged in any manner such as being torn on the cover, stained or with missing pages.
After receiving your visa, please check all the information carefully to make sure everything has been spelled and written properly. Remember that losing this visa or overstaying could result in significant problems as fines, court hearings, deportation or a ban on re-entering the country.
What types of visas are there?
As seen above, the Russian Federation offers different types of visas:
- The most common visa is the tourist visa allowing foreigners to travel to Russia as tourists.
- The business visa enables travelers to visit Russia for official or private business.
- The transit visa allows voyagers to stay in Russia for transit purposes only.
- The private visa allows foreigners to visit their friends or acquaintances living in Russia upon invitation letter. The private visa is processed by the Russian Consulate and is issued only on the basis of an original private invitation from relatives living in Russia.
- The humanitarian visa is also processed by the Russian Consulate and allows people to enter Russia for many reasons, such as creating or reinforcing academic, cultural or socio-political relations. Taking part in sports, religious or charitable events. Providing humanitarian assistance or accompanying a family member assigned to this task. A letter from the company or organization supporting your mission is mandatory as well as a visa support for humanitarian visit (such as an invitation of the Ministry of Interior of the Russian Federation, or from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation or a copy of a direct inviting letter from your Russian host).
- As the humanitarian or the private visa, the work visa is also processed by the Russian Consulate and allows you to enter in the Russian Federation as a contract employee, teacher or as an accompanying person of a family member.
Be aware the Russian authorities strongly recommend to not book hotels or any kind of travel arrangements before your visa decision, unless it is a requirement for your visa application.
Tourist visa for Moscow
The tourist visa is valid for a stay of thirty days and allows a maximum of two entries into the country. This visa is perfect for people with a planned itinerary, willing to visit Russia for a short period of time. For a tourist visa, you must have confirmed accommodation for each night of your trip in the country. In order to apply you will need a valid passport, a recent passport-type photo (not more than 6 months old), the right application form completed, the Russian National Tourist Office booking form, the application fee and for unemployed or self-employed people a copy of bank statements from the last three months with a current balance of a minimum of 100GBP per day for the duration of the stay.
Please note, the Russian National Tourist Office booking form is also called visa support, this document is issued by the hotel or the authorized Russian tour operator booked. The document is divided into two parts. The first part is the tourist voucher stating that you have rented a Russian hotel. This part will display your details like the cities you will visit or the services you will be receiving from the hotel and the proof of payment. The second part is the confirmation letter, it confirms that you will use the hotel during your visit and it also includes four elements you have to fill in, like the organization name, the address, the reference number, the confirmation number.
Most of the people choose to get their visa support/invitation/tourist voucher via travel agencies. It allows tourists to get the document without having to book hotels in advance. You can get your invitation here for just 16 pounds.
The fees can range from 185GBP to 395GBP.
- For a single entry: 185GBP (standard service) or 285GBP (express service).
- For a double entry: 285GBP (standart service) or 395GBP (express service).
Business visa for Moscow
The business visa is valid for ninety days and allows a maximum of two entries. This visa is adapted to people visiting Russia for official or private business. The Russian Federation also offers multiple-entry business visas, valid for a period of six or twelve months with unlimited entries. The documents required to apply are similar to those of the tourist visa. The only additional document requested is the business visa support documents provided by the Embassy.
The fees for a business visa can range from 275GBP to 795GBP.
- For a single entry up to 3 months: 275GBP (standard service) or 390GBP (express service).
- For a double-entry up to 3 months: 325GBP (standard service) or 480GBP (express service).
- For multiple entries up to 12 months: 580GBP (standard service) or 795GBP (express service).
Transit visa for Moscow
This Visa allows staying in Russia for transit purposes only. This visa is issued for a period of 3 days only. The documents mandatory to apply are similar to those of the tourist visa. The only additional document requested is the paper or the electronic ticket showing that you are flying through Russia. The transit visa is not applicable for Trans-Siberian Railway.
The fees can range from 175GBP to 370GBP.
- For a single entry: 175GBP (standard service) or 225GBP (express service).
- For a double-entry: 275GBP (standard service) or 370GBP (express service).
You may note that you can pay the visa fees by debit or credit card, Postal Order or cash when applying at the Visa Application Centre.
You cannot upgrade the service once the visa application has been submitted. All fees are non-refundable.