(STL.News) The Russian government has announced a new eVisa program that will allow international tourists to apply for a visa for Russia online without having to visit an embassy or consulate.
This is welcome news for travelers, who so far had to go complete the bureaucratic process in person for most visas and needed to make an appointment with the embassy and submit long paperwork, including an invitation letter from a Russian entity.
Waiting times for paper visas can be long and tourists are advised to apply well in advance to avoid issues caused by potential delays. The new application process is expected to only take minutes to complete.
The eVisa system is part of a larger plan designed to encourage and facilitate international travel. Russia is a varied country that has much to offer to visitors in terms of art and culture, outdoor activities, and unique landscapes. For this reason, around 30 million international travelers visit Russia each year.
What Is the Online Visa for Russia?
The electronic visa or eVisa is a travel permit that allows holders to enter Russia, just like traditional visas. The difference between a paper visa and an eVisa is that the latter can be applied for completely online from the comfort of one’s home or office.
The visa can be used by those who wish to visit Russia for tourism or business purposes for short periods of time. For this reason, only minimal documentation is required (unlike longer-term visas such as work permits, which require the applicant to provide a work contract).
At the moment, 3 electronic visas are already available for Russia. They are region-specific, meaning that they can be used to enter only the Russian region they apply to (namely, St Petersburg Leningrad, the Far East, and Kaliningrad Oblast.) eVisa holders cannot exit the region of their visa and are only allowed 8 days of stay in Russia.
The 2021 eVisa program will extend the online visa process to most Russian cities and territories, giving tourists the opportunity to explore all that Russia has to offer with just one electronic visa. The new online visa will also allow for more time in the country, likely up to 16 days.
How to Apply for a Russian Visa Online?
Those wondering how to get a Russian visa online can look at the current eVisa application system which is likely to be a blueprint for the 2021 extended program.
Travelers will likely need to fill out an online application form with their personal, contact, and passport details. They may also be asked details of their travel plans.
After completing the questionnaire, they will be required to submit relevant supporting documents such as a copy of their valid passport, a recent color photograph, and evidence of health insurance coverage for the entirety of their trip. This can all be done online from a device that can connect to the internet.
After paying the eVisa fee by credit or debit card, applicants can wait for the Russian authorities to approve their visa request. Most online applications are reviewed in a few business days, much faster than traditional paper applications. The eVisa will be issued and sent to the applicant via email.
It’s important to note that electronic visas are directly linked to the passport that was used during the application. This means that travelers must show that same document to the Russian border control authorities upon arrival in order for their visa to be deemed valid.
The new online visa program is intended to be beneficial both for foreign visitors and Russia. On one hand, the electronic system allows for faster and more secure screening at the border, meaning that Russian immigration officers will be better equipped to fight crimes such as identity theft. At the same time, travelers will find the process of obtaining a Russian eVisa much easier and straightforward than non-electronic permits.
Daniel Moore is an experienced content writer, and is associated with many renowned travel blogs as a guest author where he shares his valuable travel tips with the audience.