Getting a Visa for Russia: Will I ever arrive?


Russia

What’s your father’s occupation?

Are you are secret terrorist?

Are you actually a super hero?

What did you eat for dinner yesterday?

I had heard that obtaining a visa for Russia was a bit of a challenge, but I didn’t realize quite how much of a challenge it would be until I began the process.

I needed my passport for a trip at the end of January, so I did begin the visa application process a little later than I would have liked. I’m a pretty organized person, and I never normally leave things like this to the last minute. But I had just over three weeks until I was due to set off so I thought that should be sufficient.

I began the process with a search on Google for Russian visa, and I was immediately intimidated by the response. There were so many websites advertising Russian visas and invitation letters and stamped vouchers, all for different prices. How am I supposed to know which is the official site? What does all this mean?

After finding what I thought was the best website to use, I began to complete the forms. Question after question after question. What’s your mothers’ middle name? Why do they need to know that? She’s not going- I am! List every educational establishment you have ever attended with addresses and phone numbers. With my three degrees, that took a while!

But what I found most challenging was the requirement for me to list every country I had visited in the last ten years. I’m a travel addict, and been for the last ten years- do they realize how unrealistic this is? Is this information not stored on a coputer system somewhere that they can access?

So about an hour later I had completed the form. So where do I send it? How much does it cost? Finding this information was another hurdle I had to overcome! After digging around the website for around 30 minutes I eventually found the information I needed.

Now to pay.

‘Postal order to bankers draft only’.

What is a postal order? I’d heard of it but never used one. And what on earth is a bankers draft? What’s wrong with paying online with a credit card? This is the 21st century after all.  Another Google search educated me on the above and I decided that I would take a trip to the Post Office to purchase a postal order and to send off my precious passport in the hope that it will be returned to me with an open door to Russia.

The next day I received a phone call. ‘Where is your invitation letter and voucher? We cannot process the visa without these’.

What?!?

What is this? Where do I get them from? Do I actually have to pay for these?

So it seems that you need to be ‘invited’, at a cost, into the country to be able to enter. So after several e-mails, the completion of more forms and even more money paid out, I received the documents I needed and sent them off. Now fingers crossed.

I have spent over 100Pounds on this visa all in all and many hours of my time too. My passport is due to be returned to me tomorrow, and I really hope that it will have all gone through ok and that my forthcoming trip will be able to go ahead as planned. Of all the visas I have needed in the past, this one has certainly been the most difficult, and costly to obtain!

So fingers crossed for tomorrow…watch this space for updates!