Proceed to
for Russian visas, invitations, registration etc.

Post visa questions of general interest to my
Notice Board


First, in mid-90s, we issued our own invitations. Then, as the visa support industry developed, we started recommending the services of others, who would provide invitations faster and cheaper than we ever could.

For the last couple of years we've been recommending Intelservice Ltd. (Natalia Nikolayeva, Of companies we tried they are least likely to ignore your inquiry, and their 24 hour emergency service does work. Their rates, while not the lowest, are quite on par with the market average. They have a network of agents, and feedback I get about them is mostly positive. On the negative side, they will not deal with non-standard situations, eg. when you can't find your visa sponsor to get registered.

If you know of any good agencies, please call them to our attention. The main requirement, in addition and promptness, is the ability and willingness to deal with non-standard situations. 

As of recent (starting about the beginning of 2002) we've been getting insistent inquiries that we ourselves issue invitations. Perhaps that will make sense after all for us to offer homestay invitations to our guests. The country is moving backwards as far as laws are concerned, and while rules, laws, and practices may change, the so-called homestay invitations are not likely to change.

So we hereby announce that requests for homestay invitations are welcomed.

How it works

The easy part:

Fill out your standard visa application form you can download from  Make a photo. The embassy says one but have a couple exta on hand just in case. Print and use black ballpoint pen to minimize the probability of hassle. Make sure your passport is valid several months beyond the end of your Russian trip and has a few free pages for visas.

The hard part:

We obtain the famous "Izveshchenie" for you. The last time we looked into that, the process would take 2-3 months but that was back in the liberal Yeltsin era. Since that the system tightened, in some ways became more efficient, in others more complex, and I've moved to the old core of Moscow. We'll investigate the situation in our local OVIR office and tell you how long all that will take and how much of a contribution you'll be expected to make to our cause to convince me to go though this exercise.

Once we get this Izveshchenie, we can send it to you by registered mail (another 2-3 weeks) or my courier ($35-40US).


----- Original Message -----
From: xxxxxxxxxx   xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
To: <>
Sent: Friday, August 15, 2003 1:51 AM
Subject: Recommendation

> Hi,
> I was reading your section on visas. I would recommend a visa agency called ( - they provided me with an invitation in less than 24 hours through their web site. Also, I think they're cheaper than intel service center, and registration was easy and cheap - 15 minutes in the Moscow office. They have an office in Petersburg too, I think.
> Worth considering.
> Matt

"GetRussian offers same-day online processing of Russian visa invitations. We aim to make the process of getting a Russian visa quick, affordable and understandable."

Welcome to the beginning of your Russian adventure:

It is preferable to take your documents to the Visa section of your Russian consulate in person, or have someone do that on your behalf.

If such is not possible, check with the particular consulate. Do not expect them to answer e-mail inquiries. It has to be direct contact over the phone. Unlike the US, Canadian and other embassies I know, at least a real live human being may answer your call.

(A side remark.) Do you find the experience disturbing, annoying, humiliating or otherwise disagreeable? To put things in perspective, pretend yourself to be a Russian and visit the embassy of your country with a visa request. More "experience life as it is" in the Misery Travel corner of this site.


Tired of Russian bureaucracy? Take a break in the countryside. No paperwork, and the only two rules are to keep animals out of the kitchen and not to pee on the toilet seat. Hiking, horseback rides, rafting etc. await you in the Village of Dubrovki in Tver region, right on the Volga. Working holidays possible (tree planting, environment cleanup..).  Much better than Pokrovka 42 (Moscow's central OVIR)


Other visa sponsors


Need to re-enter the country? Try Riga, Latvia, Lithuania or Finland. Often easier to re-enter than to renew your visa from within Russia.


Need to travel out of the country to get a new tourist visa? Try


Visa expired, host disappeared, your documents are a mess?

I know the scene, learned a few tricks over the years, and dealt with OVIR's central office in the past. I'm available for consultations and support in messy cases. In the worth of cases I'll help you to hide from the wrath of Russian authorities in the catacombs near the city of Staritsa. ;)



Watch out for information on Foreigner Registration or Migrant cards. For now relax: it seems that these cards are intended for those who can enter Russia without a visa (citizens of most former Soviet Union republics). Just in case, do fill one out at the airport. This is how it looks. If you entered the country before these cards became available at border crossings you should be OK, based on what local newspapers quote law enforcement authorities saying...











While on the subject, remember to get registration within 3 working days. Make sure a stamp like this is put on your visa or passport.....


From the mail:

Pasha - here's the form I was refering to, found it on the MID website, you
can add it to your repretoire for when Intelservice fails their customers...



Recomended reading:


You may end up sending your application, and photos, complete with a stamped self-addressed envelop. Different Russian embassies, apparently, have different rules on how it is OK and not OK to send documents, so try to establish direct contact with them.

Please note that you do not necessarily need to work with the embassy closest to you, or in your country. When I was arranging for my what turned out to be one way trip to Russia in the early 90s I dealt with the one in Ottawa (42 Range Road, as far as I recall), and at that time they were pretty helpful.

Method of payment: cash or certified cheque.

Fees may vary but are typically $60-80 for no-rush (over two weeks) processing.

With some luck you'll get your visa and will be able to cross the Russian border.

Next will be the registration issue. So far we'll been solving this problem by quick and inexpensive registration at a cheap hotel. This practice, it seems, is coming to an end, so we'll go back to writing a letter, having it notarized, and bringing it to the local OVIR unless you plan to travel and can't part with your passport for a week, in which case we'll revert to instant semi-legal registration as long as such remains possible...

To equip us to speak to OVIR on your behalf and successfully obtain your Izveshchenie, we need to know the following pieces of information:

Passport stats

First name
Middle name
Last name
Date of birth
Place of birth
Passport Number

Date of issue
Date of expiration
Passport issuing office

Contact information


Other information

Residential address
Place of work and position
Word address and tel. number
Previos trips to Russia



Arrival date
Length of stay
Cities to be visited
Single, double or multi-entry


A procedural note

  1. Discuss your travel plans with me to determine you visa support, accommodation and other requirements
  2. Send the required information
  3. STAY TUNED AND RESPOND IMMEDIATELY - visa support is a tricky and time-sensitive process
  4. Advance payment may or may not be required. In the latter case be prepared to convince me that your plans are serious and my trip to OVIR and filling out the forms will not be a waste of time and effort.
Trip particulars

Reason for your trip

Were are you going to stay in Russia?

Where do you plan to apply for your visa?

Method of travel (plane, train, car)


Please note

Contrary to what you may be told, you DO NOT NECESSARILY need to buy a package tour or reserve a place in an expensive hotel to enter Russia. If it helps in your particular case I can supply a notarized letter to the effect that you will be staying with me...



Visa expired, host disappeared, your documents are a mess?

I know the scene, learned a few tricks over the years, and dealt with OVIR's central office in the past. I'm available for consultations and support in messy cases.

Even in the most hopeless cases I can be of help. A picturesque refuge in the catacombs near the city of Staritsa on the Volga is a great alternative to suffering the wrath of Russian authorities in Magadan.

Write to ...



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