By Claudia Untiedt|
An individual tourist trip to Russia requires a visa and other diverse documents.
Letter of invitation
You first need an official and original letter of invitation, which has to be supplied by a Russian citizen at the corresponding passport- and visa-authorities of the Russian ministry of Interior (OWIR). If you know Russian sailors, they may help you. Please refrain from unknown Russian citizens, offering this service on the web. In case you want to go to Kaliningrad, and you do not know anybody you can always ask Mr. Wladislaw Andreev, a staff member of the Kaliningrad city council. His address is:
Mr. Vladislav Andreev
Officer on Tourism
City Hall of Kaliningrad
Tel/fax +7 (0112) 21 53 95
His English is excellent. The best way is to send him an e-mail or a fax and to explain your wish (sailing trip to Kaliningrad oblast).
Attention: This is a service requiring payment. Normally the fee is about 30 Euro. In order to get the letter of invitation the following information is necessary:
- Name and nationality of the boat,
- name, nationality, day and place of birth as well as the passport number of each crew member,
- the places you intend to visit in Russia,
- dates of departure and arrival (please consider buffer times: depending on the weather conditions it might quite often be hard to anticipate the exact date of arrival by sailing boat),
- the nature of the visa and the number of necessary entries (please keep in mind, that leaving a Russian harbour can stand for going into international water ways which means that the approach of the next Russian harbour is a new entry to Russia).
It is important to start all the preparations in advance, especially since the cost of the visa is higher, the shorter the time of application. My recommendation is to start six weeks before the trip.
Travel health insurance
Please do not forget to go to a travel agent in order to buy travel health insurance. Keep in mind, that the Russian Federation only accepts special health insurances – please ask your travel agent, he can give you the correct recommendation. Cost per person: about 23 Euro (2005).
Visa application form
As soon as you have received the letter of invitation and the travel health insurance you can apply for the visa. Please download the visa application form from the website of the Russian embassy.
Each traveller has to fill out one form and attach one original photo.
The complete visa application requires:
- A passport which is valid more than six months after your trip,
- the official invitation,
- the visa application form,
- a photograph,
- travel health insurance.
A single entry tourist visa costs about 35 Euro if you apply for it more than 15 days before your trip. In case you should have your papers ready at a later moment, this affair becomes pricy. If the embassy has only 7 – 14 days to issue the visa, the fee is about 45 Euro, 2 – 6 days before the trip they already take 60 Euro. Should you need a double entry visa the fee is about 65 Euro – the short term application is even more expensive. A multi-entry visa valid for three months is 100 Euro minimum (see: http://russische-botschaft.de/Konsulat/visa.htm).
If you have undertaken all the cited steps by your own so far, you should now decide whether or not you are ready to do the rest by your own. You can also entrust the case to a professional visa service. I have tried both ways and I finally decided to chose Visadienst Bonn (http://www.visum.de/) for the last several times. They always successfully finalised my visa applications.
But don’t forget: In addition to the cost cited before, which depends on the time of processing and the nature of the visa, you have to add the cost for the professional visa service.
A processing time of more than six days before the entry (tourist visa) is 16 Euro per person, plus vat. A processing time of less than six days before entry is about 41 Euro plus vat per person.
The other option is a trip to Berlin and a visit of the Russian embassy in the Behrenstrasse. You queue up OUTSIDE with about another 200 people and slowly move up to the entry of the consulate. Length of time: Up to 4 hours. Closing time is about 12am. In case you have not reached the entry of the consulate before, you have to come back the next day.
Please keep in mind, that you will not have your passport during the time of visa application! In case you should have to undertake a trip during that time where your passport is needed you must consider this fact in your plans.
The author Claudia Untiedt has been sailing for seven years and has been in Russia several times.
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