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Russian visa costs

Littleton, Colorado
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Russian visa costs

My husband and I, both American seniors living in Denver, Colorado will be going to Russia independently next August for a couple of weeks and need tourist visas and letters of invitation. I have checked with an agency here in Denver and was aghast at the $389 fee for each of us as follows: $50 for letter of invitation, minimum of $50 for mandatory editing of the application, $170 for the consular fee and $119 for the agency fee. Are there any Americans that know of US agencies that don't charge as much for these services? Or, are these costs in fact reasonable?

With sincere thanks,

Annie B

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Plymouth, Minnesota
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1. Re: Russian visa costs

You can read here at TA (just do a search for visa agencies) for others' experience, but can advise this is as you felt quite high.

I use Go-To-Russia, and typically would expect the following...

1. Visa support - $20-25...yours is twice this amount. One other thing you can try is getting the visa support yourself direct from your hotel(s) as this should be free, but if you ae moving around quite a bit, this can be a bit problematic...also, I think some visa agencies in fact insist you get this thru them...

2. Consular fees of $140 + mandatory fee of $30 for an agency called ILS to which the Russian consulates have outsourced handling - so, this would equal the $170 you mention.

3. Mandatory editing is a new one for me, so the $50 for this is extra...

4. Agency fees of around $60...at the $119 you say they are asking is again, double...

Others can chime in with agencies they have used, but you may also want to check out the agencies the actual Russian Consulate in San Francisco (the one for your region) references at their site (you have to scroll down the page).

www.consulrussia.org/eng/visadepartment.html

I am quite sure at the end of the day, you can ge this done for about $100 less...

Littleton, Colorado
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2. Re: Russian visa costs

Thanks Elbertsj so much for the quick reply and all the suggestions - really appreciate it as the costs I was being given seemed way off the mark.

FYI - I have been an avid reader of this forum for some time now and consider you to be "The Oracle!" I know I will also be using your suggestions for buying train tickets closer to our departure too so thanks on behalf of so many regular visitors to this forum for your very valuable posts.

Annie B

Phoenix, Arizona
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3. Re: Russian visa costs

Google red star travel. I think there invite letter fee is $25.00? It will cost a little more than going trough ILS but you can pick up the phone and ask questions. I doubt you could do so with ILS? If this is your first trip to Russia I would highly recommend using them as the application can be quite confusing at times. They are a full service travel agency, so if you book tickets and such through them the invite is free. Their office is accross the street from the Seattle Russian consulate. AIM.

Littleton, Colorado
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4. Re: Russian visa costs

Thanks for the info, AIM. I will definitely look into Red Star because we will also need visas for China and I would prefer going through an agency that could handle both visas themselves especially if the prices were reasonable.

Annie B

Washington DC...
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5. Re: Russian visa costs

Go To Russia posts on its web-site the cost of $249 per visa (including all consular and ILS fees, their processing and the tourist voucher). Looks like the only thing is not included in this price is shipping.

Scottsdale, Arizona
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6. Re: Russian visa costs

Annie I just got mine for $270 total, that includes the invite letter, going for 14 days, http://www.visaexpress.net/ I used the same company for a Chinese visa. They got them done in under 2 weeks. email me if you have any ?s.

-Joe

Scottsdale, Arizona
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7. Re: Russian visa costs

oh yeah it included shipping.

Plymouth, Minnesota
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8. Re: Russian visa costs

Murmanskrocks hit the price point I ended up paying. I think IF you want to haggle a wee bit, if you ae doing other things with an agency, you should be able to get them to cover the invite price, save a few bucks...but, heck, I think you are way ahead at $250 or so shipping (express mail back and forth).

As a personal preference, I have tended to "go thru" San Francisco consulate, either directly when they allowed this, or when using Go To Russia. Logistically, I would choose an agency that has an office in the city of the consulate to avoid multiple hand-offs...given this is your passport, the fewer times it has to change hands, the better. So, AIM's Red Star with it's Seattle location (this is technically my consulate), and Go ToRussia with its San Fran office fit the bill...

Littleton, Colorado
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9. Re: Russian visa costs

Many, many thanks to each of you for your thorough replies to my query - very much appreciated. It makes perfect sense as you said, Elbertsj, to use a company that has an office in the same city as the consulate. Given my druthers I would also like to use one firm to handle both the Russian and Chines visas which would be more convenient as you said, Joe, and possibly a tad cheaper too.

How far in advance of a trip do you recommend starting the visa process especially when we need visas for both Russia and China and does it make any difference, do you think, which visa should be applied for first?

Annie B

Bethesda MD
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10. Re: Russian visa costs

I've been assuming I (and thus the OP here) need a visa support i.e. invitation letter to get the ball rolling on tourist visas for U.S. citizens, but I just saw something that leads me to check that here. The 9 Sept. 2012 press release by the US Embassy in Moscow on the new US-Russia agreement includes this: "No formal invitation will be required to apply for a business or tourism visa, although applicants seeking Russian tourist visas must continue to hold advance lodging reservations and arrangements with a tour operator." I take it that the last six quoted words mean that US citizens staying in multiple locations not limited to hotels should still acquire an umbrella document by paying a visa support fee to Go-To-Russia or the like, and all that's changed in that regard is that it doesn't have to be a "formal invitation," which is probably a distinction without a difference. But on the outside chance that air tix out ouf the country suffice to meet the "arrangements with a tour operator" or the chance that the press release has it wrong...

ILS will be opening post-holidays shortly and I'll ask them, but I thought an independent take on the question was worth requesting.