An invitation to Russia (also known as a tourist voucher or visa support), is a document foreign tourists need in order to be able to apply for a Russian visa. For citizens of countries that do not need a visa to enter Russia, the invitation serves as the reason for their visit to Russia. For citizens of countries that do need a visa to Russia, it’s essential for the application process.
Why do I need an invitation to Russia?
As mentioned above, the invitation serves as a document that shows your reasons for visiting Russia. It’s the first document that you need to get before applying for the visa itself. At one point during the visa application process, you’ll have to add the information from your invitation letter. It allows the local government to stay in control, and if need be, to be able to easily locate you.
What is the Russian tourist voucher and visa support?
Many people get confused about the different terms used. It’s simpler than it seems; a Russian invitation letter, a tourist voucher and a visa support document are all the same thing. It’s a document required for a foreign tourist in order to get the visa. It’s in A4 format and confirms that you have been invited by an accredited travel company or hotel.
The most popular type of invitation is the tourist one. It consists of two parts, namely:
- The tourist services contract (tourist voucher) – this is the document confirming that you will have a place to stay and provides the local authorities with information about the cities you plan to visit, as well as proof of payment for the accommodation reservation.
- Confirmation of receiving foreign tourists (confirmation letter) – this is the confirmation of your visit presented by the hotel or the travel agency. It will also list your personal data, as well as the accommodation you’ll stay in.
But what does it actually look like?
Do you have to state the hotel you’ll stay in for the invitation letter?
For the long answer, I’ll tell you a story. For my first visa applications, I went through the largest private agency in London. They make thousands of visas every year. Each time I would drop off my passport and get a ready-made visa.
I knew that I needed an invitation, but they were taking care of it. Do you think they asked me where I was going to stay? Whether I had booked a hotel? No. I received my visa, and always saw random hotels listed that I was not going to stay in.
Now I buy my own invitations. In the “hotel” box, I don’t write anything or just leave the default option. No one will come to check whether you’re actually sleeping in the hotel you listed in the invitation.
You can sleep at a friend’s place, with locals via Airbnb or just spend the night at the train station: no problem.
When do you need to buy an invitation letter from an agency?
Let’s have a look at some situations and whether you need to buy an invitation yourself.
Will you have to buy a tourist voucher if you stay in…
- one hotel: Maybe. The hotel may – perhaps – provide you free visa support. You should check that yourself with the hotel you booked or choose one that provides free invitation letters. (Keep in mind that if you want to change the hotel or stay in multiple hotels, you will have to get an invitation from each of them)
- multiple hotels: Probably. Hotels may – perhaps – provide you free invitations, but it is also necessary that your file with many invitations is accepted by the consulate/embassy. The law is not very clear on this subject, it seems that many invitations are generally refused for some reason. If all the hotels you plan to stay in provide free tourist visa invitation letters, you should try submitting all of them. If your file gets refused, you will have to buy a single tourist voucher yourself.
- Airbnb hosting: Certainly. Private residents on Airbnb cannot provide a tourist invitation letter for your visa.
with friends/family: Certainly. As with Airbnb, locals can’t provide you with an invitation letter for a Russian visa.
What different type of invitations are there?
You will need to obtain a different type of invitation depending on the purpose of your visit and, therefore, the type of visa you plan to apply for. The most popular reasons for entering Russia include:
- Work (as a foreign employee)
Tourism visa invitation
You’ll need to get a tourist voucher in order to apply for the Russian tourist visa. This type of invitation can be given by the hotels you booked or through a private travel agency. Most people choose to get their invitations from travel agencies, for the following reasons:
- You don’t have to book a hotel beforehand
- It’s easier to switch hotels or stay in multiple hotels (if you plan on getting the invitation from hotels, you’ll have to get one from each hotel you’re staying in. It’s usually a reason for authorities rejecting a visa application)
- It’s faster (you receive it via email within a couple of minutes)
The tourist invitation is issued on an official page from the company that invites you.
The information you have to provide in order to receive the tourist voucher includes:
- Date of birth
- Entry and exit dates from Russia
- Passport series and number
- The expiry date of your passport
- Reason for visiting Russia (in this case tourism)
- Itinerary and accommodation (you will have to indicate all the cities you plan to stay in, as well as the accommodations. Remember that if you buy the invitation from a travel agency, you can just add random hotels as your accommodation)
- Information from the receiving party (the hotel or travel agency) – this is the information you will need for your visa application. It’s included in your invitation and consists of the official name of the company, company address, tourist reference number, and registration number of the inviting organization.
After providing all the required information and paying for the tourist voucher, it should be sent to your email within a couple of minutes.
I have tried many companies that provide invitations and I have always obtained my visa. These companies include Action-Visas, DestinationRussia, Invite Russia, and Voyage Expo.
Yep, I’ve already bought a £35 invitation at Action-Visas but that was before I knew better. Now I know that a tourist invitation is much cheaper if you go to the right agencies.
We negotiated the rate of £16 per tourist invitation through an agency called “Russia Support“. I’ve checked their registration with the Russian authorities and since they’re legit, have since used their service many times.
Get a Russian invitation letter from Russia Support for 16 pounds
Russia Support is an officially registered travel agency that provides tourist and business invitations. I’ve now used their services for several years, and always recommend them to my friends and family who are in need of a tourist voucher in order to apply for the visa. The price of a tourist invitation is just £13.90, and you receive the invitation to your email within a couple of minutes after you make the payment.
Below, you can find an example on how to fill in the form for ordering your invitation.
After filling in the form, as shown above, you have to check if the data you entered is correct, and pay. In a couple of minutes after making the payment, you should have the visa support sent to your e-mail.
Important! If you don’t see the invitation, be sure to check the SPAM folder. Rarely it can end up there.
Get a Russian invitation letter from Visa Partner
Visa Partner is another travel agency that I’ve used and can recommend. The company is also an officially registered travel agency. They offer invitation letters for £17.
This company has a pretty interesting process… After you complete the form to order the tourist voucher, you’ll receive an email with the voucher itself alongside a request for payment details. In other words, you receive the invitation BEFORE making the payment. Do not try, however, to avoid paying for the document – the company can contact the Russian Ministry and your visa application will be rejected.
Below, you can find the step-by-step process of filling in the order form.
In order to visit Russia to visit friends or family (and stay at their residence), you’ll have to obtain a Private Russian visa. The private invitation is the hardest to get. This is why many tourists that go to Russia to visit loved ones do so on a tourist visa.
If you want to invite a friend, family member or acquaintance that has foreign citizenship to visit you in Russia and stay at your place, you’ll have to send them a private invitation. The private invitation is issued after a personal request from a citizen of Russia at the Federal Migration Service at the place of his/her residence.
No other organization or company can request or offer a private invitation. The person that invites you for a visit will have to present the following documents:
- Filled form of request of a private invitation
- Passport copy of the person invited
- Letter of guarantee, in which the person inviting you accepts the responsibility to provide the invitee with shelter and financial and medical support.
Besides this, the person inviting you takes complete responsibility for the invitee respecting the Russian laws as well as paying the fees for the letter itself alongside the other application processing costs.
Basically, obtaining a private visa takes more time, effort and money, but provides the same thing as a tourist visa.
You will need to obtain a business invitation in order to obtain a Russian business visa. The business and work invitations require the same information:
- Type of visa
- Number of entries to Russia
- Your citizenship
- Your country of residence
- Date of your (first) entry to Russia
- Date of your first (exit) from Russia
- Your name and surname
- Your gender
- Birthdate, country, and city
- Passport number, date of issue and expiry date
- Information about the company that issued the invitation
- Your itinerary (the cities and hotels you’ll stay in)
- Your work information (company name and address, your position, the work phone)
- The consulate where you will take your documents
Get the invitation for a business visa from Russia Support
As an accredited travel agency, Russia Support can offer business invitations for foreign citizens looking to visit Russia for business reasons.
The price of the invitation starts at just £29 (for a one-month, single-entry invitation).
Below you can find the steps for ordering your Russian business support.
Get the invitation for a business visa from Visa Partner
Visa Partner is another travel agency you can order your business visa invitation from. Bear in mind that, just like the tourist invitation, you receive your invitation BEFORE making the payment.
Check the example on how to fill the form below.
Work invitation for Russia
A work invitation for Russia is a necessary document needed for a foreign citizen to obtain a Russian work visa. This type of visa allows you to stay in Russia for the whole period of validity of your visa, which can be from 1 to 3 years. The process of getting a work invitation is rather complicated. In the case of highly-skilled employees that are going to work for a Russian company, the company will usually do the whole process for the employee, or at least help them along the way.
The Russian work invitation consists of the following information:
- Name of the company-employer
- Number of specialists employed
- Work position
- Other important information (personal information of the employee)
How long does it take to obtain the work invitation for Russia?
In order to obtain the document, the company-employer will have to request it from the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, with all of the required documents. After receiving the invitation, the employee can start the process of getting the Russian work visa. The time you will have to wait for the visa is highly dependant on the rules of the Consulate where you applied for it.
Documents needed for obtaining the Russian work invitation
In order for your employer to issue the invitation, you’ll have to present the following documents and information:
- Copy of the employee’s foreign passport
- Translation of the passport in Russian certified by a notary
- Copy of the bachelor (or/and higher) diploma
- Translation of the diploma in Russian, certified by a notary
- Passport photos (4 photos, 3.5×4.5 cm)
- The actual residence address of the employee
- The country and the city where the foreign citizen plans to receive the Russian work visa
- Cities that the employee will visit in Russia
- The residence address in Russia
- Expected date of entry
Invitation to Study in Russia
Student invitations are intended for foreign citizens that were accepted as students in one of Russia’s universities. If you were officially accepted as a student by a Russian University, the University will send you the invitation.
Attention! You will need the original document for the visa application.
How long is the invitation valid for?
The invitation is valid for three months.
Russian Visa Invitation Letter: My Experience
At first, all these formalities scared me and left me feeling pretty stressed me out. As time goes by (I have already obtained more than 10 visas to Russia by myself), the process becomes less daunting, though I’m still always a bit nervous when I submit my application.
And yet, thus far I’ve never been refused.
Russian Visa Invitation Letter Sample
Here are some examples of tourist Invitation for getting a visa to Russia:
I hope this information has helped you. Let me know if you have any further questions or need some more tips in the comments, I’ll gladly answer all of them!