Most people who travel to Russia do so through a tourist visa, which allows a maximum stay of 30 days. The business visa, on the other hand, allows longer stays and a greater flexibility. In this article I’ll explain how to process the Russian business visa and how to compile all the documentation electronically in 1 hour (including the business invitation letter).
1. Previous issues
Before explaining step by step how to apply for a business visa, it is necessary to explain some previous aspects.
1.1. What is the business visa?
The business visa is a type of visa that is issued to foreigners for stays in Russia for business reasons. It is not a work visa, so it does not allow to do any kind work or receive any type of remuneration in Russia.
It is a visa to develop commercial activities or carry out negotiations in the territory of the Russian Federation.
Basically, it is a visa for foreign workers who travel to Russia on a regular basis for business reasons and are invited by a Russian company. For this reason, it allows a stay of more than 30 days (maximum allowed by a tourist visa) and it has more flexibility (since it can be one, two or multiple travels).
1.2. Who can apply for the business visa?
In essence, the business visa can be requested by foreign people who have business in Russia and are invited by a Russian company.
However, in practice, it is a type of visa that is also usually requested by people who want to visit the country for a period exceeding 30 days (maximum allowed by the tourist visa) or who will make multiple visits to the country.
Be sure to also check out my article on How to Get a Russian Visa for UK citizens.
Examples of this type of travelers are: tourists who visit the country for more than 30 days, foreigners who visit the country less than 30 days but who need to make more than two visits to the country (since they visit several countries bordering Russia), foreigners who have a partner or friends in Russia and want to stay longer than 30 days, travelers who need more flexibility to travel, etc.
We must have in mind that the business visa is not aimed at this last class of travelers, but the Russian authorities have always been permissive with this practice (maybe one day it will change).
1.3. What is the allowed time to stay in Russia with the business?
The business visa validity period can be of 30, 90, 180 or 365 days (even more in certain cases). However, even if your business visa is valid for 1 year, it will allow you a maximum stay of 90 days within a period of 180 days.
The business visa can be one entry, double entry or multiple entries.
For example, if you process a business visa with multiple entries and 6 months, you can stay in Russia for a maximum of 90 days over these 6 months. If you get a multi-entry 1-year business visa, then you can stay in Russia for 180 days in a year: 90 days during the first semester and 90 days during the second semester. It must be clear that you cannot stay more than 90 days without leaving the country.
1.4. Where to process the business visa?
You can complete the business visa process in 3 ways:
- At the Russian Embassy in London. The advantage is that it is a little cheaper: you save the management costs of the Russian Visa Center and only pay the consular fees of ~30 pounds. The disadvantage is that the process can only be face-to-face, you must have a prior appointment and the business hours are tight.
- The Russian Visa Center is an agency authorized by the Consulate, where you can perform the management both in person and by courier and they offer a longer time. The disadvantage is that they apply management costs of ~20 pounds that add up to ~30 euros of consular fees (in total, ~50 pounds)
- Through private agencies. There are many agencies that carry out the procedure, although you may pay an additional processing fee for the services they provide.
1.5. How much does it cost to obtain the visa?
The russian business visa is more expensive than a tourist visa. The cost is divided into three concepts:
- Consular fees: 30 pounds (if you process the visa at the Russian Visa Center you must add 20 pounds of management costs).
- Invitation letter: getting a 3-month invitation letter from a Russian organization with the iVisa agency costs about 60 pounds and can be obtained online in 5 minutes (I’ll explain below how).
- Travel insurance to Russia: with Axa Assistance a 3-month medical insurance costs about 90 pounds.
In summary, a three months business visa to Russia with double entry, can cost, at least, about 175 pounds (half of this cost corresponds to medical insurance).
If the visa is for 1 year and multiple entries, the price is higher since you have to take into account that the invitation letter is more expensive and that it is mandatory to carry out insurance for 1 year.
1.6. When to start the process?
It is advisable to start the procedure well in advance if there is any unforeseen event. At least 45 days in advance and a maximum of 90 days in advance. Keep in mind that the Russian Visa Center does not process visas more than 90 days in advance.
2. Steps to process the business visa
To obtain the business visa it is essential to present the following documentation:
- You have to present the original passport, a copy is not allowed.
- Business invitation letter. Below I explain the different types and how to get one in a few minutes.
- Medical assistance insurance. It must cover the visa validity period, that is, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months or 1 year, regardless of whether the period of effective stay in Russia is lower.
- Visa application form. You must fill it electronically, print it, sign it and affix a passport-sized photograph to it.
- Proof of fees payment (in the case of paying by transfer).
Step 1. Have a valid passport
To process the russian business visa it is essential to have a passport (DNI is not valid), which must have a minimum validity of 6 months from the date of finalization of your trip to Russia.
A very important aspect is that the passport can not have any scratch or damage because otherwise it is very possible that they do not admit it and you will have to request a new one.
IMPORTANT: to process the visa you must submit (or send by courier) the ORIGINAL PASSPORT (a copy is not allowed), since the visa is a document that is attached to the passport itself.
Step 2. Get a business invitation letter in 5 minutes
To process the russian business visa it is mandatory to have a business invitation letter, which you can obtain in two ways:
- Through the Russian company that invites you. If you have business in Russia, you should contact the company with which you are going to maintain commercial activities or negotiations, so that this company will process an invitation letter through the Main Directorate for Migration Affairs of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia (abbreviated GUVM and formerly known as FMS). The Russian company will know how to process this invitation letter, which can be in paper format (requires mailing) or in electronic format.
- On your own, buying an invitation letter. There are several agencies through which it is possible to buy a business invitation letter. These can be basically four types:
- An original invitation letter written on paper from the Main Directorate for Migration Affairs. The process can take between 2 and 3 weeks and the letter must be sent by mail.
- An electronic invitation with a barcode that will be sent to you by e-mail and which you will print. It does not require to be send by mail. The procedure is a little faster, between 1 and 2 weeks.
- An electronic invitation code (called Telex), which is sent directly to the Consulate where you are going to process the visa. Simply indicate this code in the visa application form. The process takes between 1 and 2 weeks.
- An invitation from a Russian accredited organization. This is the best option since it can be obtained in 5 minutes online and is cheaper than the previous ones. Thus, to improve trade relations between Russia and the countries of the Schengen Area (EU countries included), USA, Japan and China, accredited Russian organizations can issue business invitation letters with their logo, seal and signature, within the framework of a simplified visa regime. For example, through the iVisa agency it is possible to obtain a business invitation letter from a Russian accredited agency in 5 minutes, ready to download, print in color and present along with the rest of the documentation. I explain how to get it:
1º. Fill out the invitation letter request form
Go to iVisa , select your nationality, the visa category (business) and the number of entries (one, two or multiple entries, valid for visas of at least 3 months.
- Enter your personal information, those about your workplace and the cities in which you will stay
- Visa category: Business visa
- Visa period: 1 month, 3 months, 6 months or 1 year
- Type of visa: one entry, double entry or multiple
- You must also scan the first page of your passport (where your personal data and photo come from) and send it through the form
- If you have had a previous Russian visa, you must also scan it and send it
Note. If you work as an employee, you can indicate that you are self-employed and that you work as a trader.
2º. Data confirmation
Check that the data is correct. Otherwise, correct the incorrect data:
You can make the payment through PayPal or bank card:
4º. Download and print the invitation letter
Once the payment is done you can download the invitation in electronic format and it will be ready to print it in color.
The data you need from this invitation letter to fill out the form are four (I have marked them in red in the invitation letter):
- Invitation number: 0S0010XXX (I omit the last three digits for privacy)
- Name of the inviting organization: COM LLC
- TIN (Tax Identification Number): 7842467800
- Address: Hersonskaya Str., bld. 1/7 A, St Petersburg, Russia, 191024
The example above is an invitation letter that includes a 1 year period: from 05/05/2018 to 05/6/2018. This is the period that you must indicate in the application form (it can be 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, etc.). I have deleted the personal and workplace data that appear in the invitation letter.
In any case, from iVisa they will send you an email after buying the invitation letter in which you will be given all the information you need to fill out the application form for a russian business visa:
Note In some consulates that they ask for the original, which you must request from iVisa to be sent to your home (the shipping cost is ~25 pounds) .
Step 4. Complete the application form
Once all the documentation has been collected (passport, business invitation letter and travel insurance), you already have all the necessary information to complete the application form. To fill in the electronic form you must access the following address:
The form is filled in the same way as the tourist visa application form so I will not repeat all the steps in this article, although I will point out the small differences that must be taken into account:
1º. Details about the type of visa
Regarding the type of visa, the following fields of the application form must be taken into account:
- Purpose of visit (section): BUSINESS VISITS
- Purpose of visit: BUSINESS
- Visa category and type: COMMON BUSINESS
- Number of entries: number of entries according to your business invitation letter, which can be one (single), two (double) or multiple (multiple).
- Date of entry into Russia / Date of exit from Russia: as specified in your invitation letter, which can be a period of 1 month, 3 months (as in the example below), 6 months or 1 year.
2º. Inviting entity details
If you use the invitation letter from the iVisa agency, you will have to fill in the following fields:
- Which institution are you going to visit? Organization
- Name of organization: OSTWEST.COM LLC
- Address: Hersonskaya Str., bld. 1/7 A, St Petersburg, Russia, 191024
- TIN (Tax Identification Number): 7842467800
- Invitation number: 0S0010XXX (each invitation letter has a different number)
3º. Work information
You must indicate again your work information and the ones that also appear in your invitation letter. The company’s name, position, address, telephone and company email. If you do not work for someone else, you can indicate autonomous and commercial.
Step 5. Present all the documentation and make the fees’ payment
Once you have all the documentation, you can complete the process in:
- Russian Consulates in UK. The process is in person and you must request an appointment. Payment can be made by bank card at the time of the documentation submission (cash is not accepted).
- Request for a prior appointment in London
- Russian Visa Center of London. The process can be done in two ways:
- Face-to-face processing. It is not necessary to make an appointment and you can pay at their offices by credit card (credit or debit). You can also pay in advance by bank transfer or transfer to the account of the Visa Center (you must bring proof of payment)
- Through courier service. You can use any messenger service to send the documentation (they do not support certified mail). You must pay by bank transfer and attach the proof of payment along with the rest of the documentation.
To take into account: If you apply for a visa at the offices of the Russian Visa Center in London, you must complete the “Received” form.
Now that you almost got your russian business visa, you should read my 10 tips on how to avoid losing your luggage.