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.

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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.

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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