Categorized | Tips, Travel

Getting a Russian visa in Manila

Posted on 16 February 2016 by Dreidel Regala

Russian visa

First of all, here’s Russian embassy’s general visa information: http://www.philippines.mid.ru/doc/Visa_Section.htm

The requirements you want to know are listed in there along with the visa parameters you want to be aware of. Below is just a story of how I got mine.

***

I’m getting on a train in Ulaanbaatar and I’m getting off in Moscow. I tell this to myself with a smug look on my face while I stare at the map on my computer screen. I’m getting off in Moscow, I repeat that again, now in a whisper as realization sets in – I’m going to Russia! Quickly I make a pass in the internet about my passport’s visa situation to the country. I need one and it’s just about four bullet points away according to the embassy website. Doable, I whisper again, my heart racing a bit.

The Preparation

  • Valid passport
  • Passport-size photo
  • Travel voucher
  • Visa application form

Just four items and I don’t even need to buy any flights! I decide this was probably the easiest visa paperwork I’ve seen so far. And honestly after gathering them all I still think it is.

Step 1

Passport. I had no problem with this since I already have one and I meet all the parameters as stated in the embassy website.

Step 2

Photo. After an hour in the mall, I got this already.

Step 3

Travel voucher (or travel confirmation or visa support). Out of the four items here this is probably the trickiest.

What is a travel voucher and where to get it? The explanation in the embassy website is actually good already but to be sure I went around a little further. It’s basically an authorized confirmation document which is given by authorized agencies. To some people this meant going to any normal travel agency and letting them find the authorized agency for them (and eventually give them the voucher). To others including me this meant ordering the voucher from a website.

RealRussia is one such website and also WaytoRussia. But eventually I just chose my hostel’s own visa support service because they’re cheaper. Unfortunately I think the hostel closed down now.

It had two things: a reference number and a confirmation number.

By the way, I included the transsiberian in my itinerary when I filled out the order form.

Step 4

Application form. I filled out the electronic form using the reference and confirmation numbers from the voucher. And I mentioned the transsiberian again in my itinerary.

Be very careful and exact with the entry and exit dates on both the voucher and application form because they put the same on the visa. I had to double and triple check this with my train’s border crossing timing else I could be left behind, in the middle of the night, in no man’s land.

The Application

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. These are the only open days of the consular division in Rada Street, Makati. I went on a Monday and the small room was almost full already when I got there.

In the entrance there’s a security person who gives a queue number. Now here’s the thing, he asked me about my flight reservation. Of course I didn’t have this because I never read it in the requirements list but he wouldn’t give me a number without it. So I went outside and printed my transsiberian receipt. When I came back he wasn’t in the entrance anymore because he was busy organizing the applicants inside. At this point he didn’t look at my paperwork anymore and just arranged me along with everybody else after assigning me a number.

I guess I could suspect that the flight reservation was never really a supporting document because there is a possibility to sneak in but I will never know.

The consul officer didn’t ask anything but he did notice the transsiberian in my paperwork so it’s good that I mentioned that there. It was a different case though for some people in the room like the two friends who were asked something about their finances and reason for their two month visit. I have to say however that that officer was the nicest officer I’ve seen because he talked to the two friends in the most calm and understanding tone I’ve ever heard inside an embassy.

When they finished confirming the paperwork, they gave me a paper for the payment which I paid in the bank and returned in the embassy. I think the regular two week processing is around Php5,700. I on the other hand paid a whopping Php7,980 (as of 25th May 2015) to get it the following Monday. This may just be one of the most expensive visas out there.

The Release

When next Monday came, I have my Russian visa and a whole lot of transsiberian daydreaming.

Extra

I read somewhere that foreigners must register after arriving in Russia. Some say we just have to do it in the first city. Others say the hostel will do it for us. In the end I just told my hostel about it but never really know if they’ve gotten around to it.

***

Embassy of the Russian Federation
Consular Division
Room 402 A, 4/F, RCI Bldg, 105 Rada St., Legazpi Village, Makati City

Embassy of the Russian Federation (main office)
1245 Acacia Road, Dasmariñas Village, Makati City

8 Comments For This Post

  1. Allaine Says:

    Hello! How many days did you stay in Russia after Trans Siberian? Did the Russian embassy gave you allowance in your travel dates, or only til the last day of your Trans Siberian tour? What if I want to stay another day or two in Russia on my own?

    Also, did you travel solo? How was it for female travelers?

    Sorry if sobrang daming questions about this. You’re the only Filipino travel blogger I saw na nagTrans Siberian and I’m really curious about this trip.

    Thanks!

  2. Dreidel Regala Says:

    Hello wunderbarsky, no problem. I remember when I was preparing and I didn’t find a Filipino blog to guide me so I’d be happy to answer in any way I can.

    How many days?
    -I was inside Russia for 10 days. 6 days I spent outside the train.

    Allowance?
    -The embassy will give you a visa based exactly on the dates you told them you will enter and leave the territory. There is no allowance for this. So if you want to linger for a while after your train then you put that date in the application. It is up to your calculation. You may have to support your dates by way of bookings though. My suggestion, put in an extra day or two in the beginning and end since there’s a timezone difference and possible delays.

    Solo travel?
    -Yes I traveled solo. It was okay. Nothing bad happened to me. I saw female travelers both in groups and solo, some couples, some locals, some Mongolian, some kids. My cabin mates were also nice. It was pretty much a tourist train especially since there was a festival in Mongolia that time. But all these being said you still have to care for your own when you take the train.

    Hope these helps you!

  3. Adrian Dela Cerna Says:

    Hi!

    Thanks for posting this article, it was of great help. I am longing and dreaming of a trans-siberian trip for myself(solo mode din). At madami akong tanong hope ok lng.

    – As for the Visa, kelangan ba talagang pumunta ng embassy sa manila(nasa cebu kasi ako)
    -so pede pala sa hostel kukuha ng travel voucher till this date?, kasi nakalagay sa site accredited travel agency lng.
    – san ka bumuli ng transiberian tickets? Pde ba bilhin in advance?
    – as your experience when ang pinaka murang bumili ng ticket para sa transsiberian at the best season/month na mura to do it
    -lastly, mahal ba sa russia(though i heard mura dw gusto ko lang maka kuha ng actual inputs)

  4. Dreidel Regala Says:

    Hi Adrian, sure no problem, it excites me when I listen to other people plan their adventures too :) ok let’s see, I’ll try to answer these one by one.

    1. I’m not sure if there is a Russian consulate/embassy in Cebu so you may want to search this online. But if you found none then yes you’ll have to go to Manila to arrange for your visa. However I did notice when I was applying for mine that there were fixers too. One guy was holding several passports for a family (not his) so you may want to message the Manila embassy if it is possible to arrange yours thru an agency.

    2. If there was no change in the policy then yes you can get the voucher from the hostel if they offer it. When I got mine I noticed that the voucher came from another entity (not the hostel itself) so I suspect that that entity is the actual government accredited agency. What just happened is they provided a way to get that voucher thru their website.

    3. You can buy it in advance online. I bought mine in two different websites: CITS.net and discovermongolia.mn since I have two rides. I suggest for you to shop around cause some sites sell it more than others.

    4. I’m not really sure when is the best month to buy or if they even do promos. I think your main concern is availability esp during busy season. If it’s not a busy season you can buy it same day.

    5. To be honest, I found it expensive esp Moscow but that’s relative to our money. But you’ll get by. There are hostels, free tours, and groceries if you’re tight on budget.

    Ok hope my answers help you in some way. Enjoy your trip!

  5. JM Says:

    Hi, how could i get the voucher and reference number from the hostel.,im looking at hostels at Booking.com.. thanks

  6. Dreidel Regala Says:

    Hi JM, you won’t get it from inside booking.com.

    Go to your hostel’s website and look around for visa support. I stayed before in Soul Kitchen hostel in Petersburg and in their website there’s a page for visa support.

  7. Shermelle Says:

    Hi, are there english signages in metro stations and does google map work? I’m traveling alone this October. Thanks!!

  8. Dreidel Regala Says:

    Hi Shermelle, October? Oh I think that’s about the beginning of cold there, nice! But come to think of it, it’s always cold there ata haha.

    If you’re asking if the station names has an english translation then it’s a no. But what you can do is get a russian metro app that has a translation for both english and cyrillic. If I remember right, I didn’t see any english signs around the country but yes, google maps works so use that.

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