Thanks to all the technological progress, almost everyone has friends from all over the world nowadays. Frequently, what started off as a casual online acquaintance, becomes a strong bond that lasts over the years. Since long distance relationships are hard without any face-to-face time, people often invite each other over for visits for a chance to get to know each other better. This is a great opportunity to spend some quality time together and give each other a tour around your country’s local attractions and most beautiful places.
However, if a foreign national is invited to visit Russia, an e-vite is not always enough. Citizens of most countries will need an entry visa to travel to Russia. The first thing you need to get to apply for a visa is an official invitation. It is the inviting party’s duty to have a properly issued invite for their foreign friend. This includes all the paperwork hassle that may come with this process, such as applying, obtaining and delivering the invitation. Make sure to properly and thoroughly research the following:
- How to acquire a private invitation?
- How to acquire a tourist invitation?
- How to acquire a business invitation?
For instance, you have a friend who is a citizen of a country without visa-free regime with Russia; and you invited them over for a visit for 2 weeks. In order to cross over the border and visit you, they will need to obtain a Russian visa. They will need to present your invitation when applying for the visa in the Russian Embassy or Consular Division.
Warning! We do not recommend applying for a private visa!
Why not? Read more: Why is a private visa not your best choice?
In order to acquire an invitation for a friend you will both need to do the following:
- Figure out which type of entry visa to Russia is needed (tourist, private or business), as well as the number of allowed entries (single, double or multiple entries are available).
- The foreign national shall then provide all the necessary personal information (full legal name, DOB, travel passport number and expiration date, citizenship information) and complete info on current place of employment (company name and address, contact telephone number and their position at the company). They will also be required to fax or e-mail a copy of the passport, entry and departure dates, and a list of cities they plan to visit during their stay in the Russian Federation.
- After receiving all the necessary information, you can go to your local FMS office, pay all applicable fees for processing your paperwork and issuing you proper forms (going to FMS is not necessary if your friend is visiting with a tourist visa). As the hosting party, you will be required by the FMS representative to present certain proof that you guarantee to provide appropriate room and board accommodations for your guest, as well as any medical services they may need (these may come at your expense) throughout the entire validity of their Russian visa.
- When in the FMS office, you shall apply for an invitation of a foreign national, presenting them with all the paperwork obtained from your friend. Upon applying, an FMS representative will acquire you with a confirmation letter, stating that your application has been received (with the list of attached documents) and is now being processed.
- Your application may take up to 30 days to process. In case of approval, you will be issued an official invitation form, already filled out with all the required information about the invitee. No additional signatures or stamps will be required.
- You shall then send this invitation (the original) to your friend using any of the international courier service providers of your choice. Your friend may apply for their visa as soon as they receive this invitation.
Read more: Guest invitation
There is an interesting detail: if you have a guest/business invitation issued for your friend, you will be held legally responsible for all their actions on the territory of the Russian Federation. However, if they arrive on a tourist visa, you will save yourself a lot of time and unnecessary troubles (you will not need to spend time on the invitation, and there will not be any consequences for you personally in case they break the laws of Russian Federation). To learn more about why you should not choose this specific visa type, go to Why is it not recommended to obtain a private visa?
Acquire a private invitation to Russia
Tourist invitation is much easier and faster to get than a private one. In general, having a tourist invitation has proven to be the simplest tool for applying for a visa at an embassy.
Read more: Tourist invitation for a foreign national
To acquire a tourist invitation for your friend you will need :
- Copy of the first page of their passport;
- Entry and departure dates to/from Russia;
- Full itinerary in Russia, including lodging details.
To ensure trouble-free process of obtaining a visa and to avoid any possible acquires when entering Russia, it is recommended to apply for the invitation at certified travel agencies.
Their travel agents will assist you in issuing the invitation in the best timely manner. All you will have to do is apply with them and present all the required documents. They will take care of the rest, including delivering the invitation. Besides, there are certain companies that specialize in issuing business invitations for foreign nationals in accordance with all the terms and regulations of the Russian Federation legislation.
You can acquire a tourist invitation at one of your local travel agencies.
Acquire a tourist invitation to Russia
As an option, you can acquire your foreign friend with a business invitation. This type of via allows them to stay in Russia for under 90 days within any 180 day period, even if the visa is acquired for 365 days or more. 3-month visas give a right for a single or double entry.
Read more: Work-related (business) invitation to Russia
Under this invitation type, a foreign national has the right to conduct business with a Russian company without compensation or research the market for selling their own product or for new clients for their own company.
There are two additional types of a business visa – a commercial visa and a “cultural relations” marked visa. These are only acquired to visitors with relevant visit purposes and require proof. If this looks like an appropriate option for you, you can apply for a business invitation on our website.