A Comparison of Russian Private and Tourist Visa


Many individuals mix private visas with other visas, such as tourist visas. A private visa is named not because you are a private person but because a welcoming citizen of Russia receives a private invitation.

Issuing a private (guest) visa requires a long collection of documents, while a tourist or business visa is faster and cheaper to achieve. Therefore, many foreigners who visit their friends or relatives and visit Russia request a tourist visa. It shortens the visa processing time and frees your Russian friends or relatives from bureaucratic procedures.


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Comparison of Private and Tourist Visa:

If you want to visit your relatives and friends in Russia, you must request a visa to a Russian Embassy or Consulate and plan entry and exit dates. The purpose of the visit determines the type of visa. Each type of visa needs an invitation.

To get a private visa, an inviting Russian citizen has to wait about a month for a private invitation or rejection to be issued. While the tourist invitation is granted in just 5 minutes (online), after that, you can immediately request a visa at a Russian Consulate.

Differences in Receiving Invitations to Russia:

Russian Private Invitation:

Before a private/guest invitation is forwarded for you, a hosting party must do the following:

1. Gather a package of documents that contains:

  • Your passport copy.
  • Inviting party's passport copy.
  • Income statement of inviting party.
  • Letter of guarantee (a hosting party must take responsibility for providing you with residency, medical care, and financial assistance).
  • Request to issue a guest invitation.
  • State fee payment receipt.

2. Submit the application and package of documents to a Federal Migration Service office at your place of residence.

3. Wait for 20 working days. If an invited individual is a citizen of a migration risk country, an interview with the FMS officer is required.

4. The inviting party comes back to the FMS on the specified day, wait in line and get your guest invitation. The FMS refuses some invitation requests (the reason for refusal must be justified in writing).

5. The inviting party then sends the original invitation to you using one of the international delivery services.

Russian Tourist Invitation:

You don't have to be online for more than 5 minutes to receive a tourist invitation. For this, you need:

1. Complete an application online on the tour operator's website offering this service, such as PassportsandVisas.com.

2. Pay $ 15 to issue a tourist invitation.

3. Receive the invitation by email immediately after payment.

4. Your Russian friend or relative can issue such an invitation and you (no matter where you are) if you have internet access.

Differences of Documents Submission at a Russian Consulate:

You need to gather all the compulsory documents (the list should be given in advance at the Consulate or on its site). After you have received all the necessary documents like tickets, insurance, invitation, etc., you need to fill out the application form, pay the fee and submit all the documents along with a receipt of payment of the consular fee. After that, you will have to revisit the Consulate at a particular time. If all the documents are in order and there are no reasons to refuse entry to Russia, you will be issued a visa, but it can be denied in some cases.

Don't relax after entering Russia. If you stay in Russia for more than seven days, you must register with the migration service immediately after crossing the Russian border.

Foreign Citizen Registration or Migration Registration:

Let's compare the migration registration process of Russia's private and tourist visa holders.

Private Visa:

The obligation to register a foreigner rests with the homeowner who invites a foreign citizen. To do this, the homeowner must visit the FMS department during working hours, queue up and submit the following documents:

  • Copy of your passport.
  • Homeowner's passport.
  • Migration card (filled in).
  • Written permission of all apartment owners to temporarily re-register you as foreigners.
  • Copy of the certificate of ownership of the apartment.
  • Document proving payment of state fees for registration.
  • Completed application form for registration.

If you temporarily reside with the inviting party without registration for any reason, they will be fined $ 40-80.

Tourist Visa:

When you order a tourist invitation from an agency, a welcoming company takes responsibility for registering you. You need to contact a company that will issue you an invitation. It can help you with registration. You need a copy of your passport and the completed migration card to register.

Period of validity of the visa and costs of the invitation:

Visa Type

Validity period

Invitation cost

  Private Visa

up to 90 days


Tourist Visa

up to 30 days


Final Words:

We can conclude from the above discussion that obtaining a tourist invitation is more profitable than a private invitation.

  • Speed of issuing an invitation.
  • The prices are almost similar.
  • The assistance of a travel company with registration.

Private visas have advantages in the possibility of a more extended stay at a lower cost. I want to say again that this is a supposed benefit as the main expenses for getting a visa are a consular fee and insurance. There are many more problems with issuing documents through government agencies than with travel agencies. Getting a tourist visa is more accessible and more superficial.

About This Author

Philip Diack is Founder and Managing Director of Passports and Visas.com, a national passport and travel visa service with offices in Atlanta, Miami, Washington, DC, NYC, Denver and San Francisco.

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