This week we have been organising our Russian Visas and I have to say it has been one of the most challenging thing I have ever done in all my years of travelling.
To start the process you need to have an invitation letter. We did a bit of research and decided Real Russia was the most company used by most people we could find on the net. The letter was not hard to organise at all, a form to fill in online, choose a couple of hotels and within half an hour of paying (about $60 Aus) we had it in our inbox.
Then the real fun started, I went onto the Russian Embassy site and started filling in the form, the questions asked for a registration number and a reference number. This may have been ok except the letter was in Russian…google translate didn’t help with either of the words, so I saved my application. This actually made me smile they asked for Name, birthdate and your first nickname as a child.
I then had to email Real Russia to ask for the information I needed, they replied very quickly senind the information I needed in English.
Back to the form, I then went on to fill in a plethora of information ranging from what University I attended to an extensive list of all the countries I had visited in the last 10 years including the dates…
Then the inevitable happened the site dropped out, I was not a happy camper when I logged back in to discover everything had disappeared. So I entered it all again hoping with every keystroke that I would not lose everything again. Eventually I had the form filled in and saved then it was Ron’s turn, luckily for him his went straight through with no problems.
Next stage was printing off the forms, getting the money order (not a cheap venture at $120 each plus $10.95 for the money order). The next challenge was they asked for an itinerary, while this is easy if you are flying into Russia however we are arriving by train and the tickets can not be booked until February which means we will be on the road so will not be able to send our passports away to be processed.
So I have sent them a letter explaining our situation, offered to email the ticket information through once we have it confirmed and hoping they understand…. so the paperwork has been posted and our bank account is $300 lighter but at least we should know in a few weeks if we have been successful.
We are really hoping we get the visas as really want to visit and experience what Russia has to offer.
Visa update: two days after posting we received it back in the mail with a letter saying we could not apply until 90 days before we were due to arrive and we need to provide a copy of our air ticket. I have sent an asking explains our situation but have had no response as yet.