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How to get an invitation letter(for Visa) cheaply ?

Singapore, Singapore
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How to get an invitation letter(for Visa) cheaply ?

I have read that some hostels do provide an invitation letter for a small fee or even no charge if you stay with them.

Can anyone verify it or provide contacts of any hostels that can do it ? If not, what is the cheapest alternative ?

I will be arriving in St Petersburg in 2 months time but getting an invitation letter from our local agent is quite a bit of money.

70 replies to this topic
Bunbury, Western...
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1. Re: How to get an invitation letter(for Visa) cheaply ?

You could try here: http://www.ryh.ru/index.php . We stayed there in St Petersburg and I see they offer visa support according to their web site. We organized our own invitation online. You can read what we did here: railway-train-travel.com.au/train-trip-trans… . It was quite easy.

Plymouth, Minnesota
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2. Re: How to get an invitation letter(for Visa) cheaply ?

I am not sure how you apply for visa in Singapore, but in the US, if you use an agency (some argue not needed, but some choose to do so anyway), they SHOULD be able to provide the visa support along with their overall processing for a very reasonable fee...

If you do your own visa, but then get the visa support separately, you may well get whacked $30-50...quite a bit of money...also, you should be careful if you do only the visa support on-line...some of these may be not quite legitimate...may not have truly proper "registration" with Russian authorities.

As an example (only!): here in the US a single entry visa direct thru the Russian Consulate is $140...going TOTALLY thru a visa agency was $195...and, this included the visa support...just to give you a rough idea of pricing, admittedly US, alas...

I would actually go to your local Russian consulate web site - they may well have a "preferred" visa agency they refer you to...

I'll admit in reading Jean's link, I struggled a bit to see how much JUST the visa support would be at the hostel...Also, be aware if you are not staying in a traditional hotel you will need to make sure you have a way to get "registered" when you arrive...this can also add extra costs...

Singapore, Singapore
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3. Re: How to get an invitation letter(for Visa) cheaply ?

Hi,

Thanks to both of you for the advise. I will certainly check out with our local Russian Consulate but I am now in another country, hoping to gather more information before I do the application with any party. The country I am in now introduced me to an agency that charge much higher than the USD20 provided by Jean; and they asked for visa fess that is higher than what is mentioned in the embassy website.

2 issues I will like to check, if anyone happens to know:

1) Is this "letter of invitation" or "visa support" document definitely cost some money to get or can I get it free from any hostel or hotel that can supply one for free if I stay with them ? Reading from many sources, it looks like it must be payable and not every hotel is eligible to issue one, otherwise the link that Jean provided(rhy) will not be charging. Just my guess.

2) Getting "registered" upon arrival. I read it in guidebooks and poster #2 above mentioned, will this cost me some money to get it done ? If I have booked hostels to stay, is it ok ? Do I still need to pay for this process ?

Plymouth, Minnesota
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4. Re: How to get an invitation letter(for Visa) cheaply ?

So, first, even though you are traveling, just hit the web page for your Consulate to get general guidance...do not have to be "home" to do this, right!

Then, yes, most larger hotels will issue this for free. BUT, ONLY if you end up staying there!- do NOT try a book and cancel as they WILL whack your credit card for a LOT of money.

As for "registering", believe "hotels" are required to do this - and frankly most travelers do not even "notice" much. They simply take your docs at check in, and make a copy and have them back to you. I ended up getting hit for $6 I think at a major hotel - a bit of a surprise as in Moscow, this was always nominally "free- but not that big a deal.

As it sounds like you are budget conscious, I would be very careful to figure this registration detail. For example (and I am NOT advocating this necessarily), one site here in the US who provides this as part of package of overall "visa processing" (the one I mentioned early) will provide registration in Russia if you are not at a place that can do it, and the price here I think is around $50...so, to me, based on what you are saying, pretty steep...

So, if you choose a hostel kind of place, armed with this little bit of extra info, you can maybe read thru their info and determine if they will handle this.

USA-Virginia
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5. Re: How to get an invitation letter(for Visa) cheaply ?

I agree with the expert. I done it both and learned that it is much easier to deal with any agency who will do all work for you. You you choose other way there is more chance that it will take more time and eventually more money. At the same time I keep wander why this invitation is so nessasary if it is bogus anyway?.

Next time I travel to Russia I will use agency and will not try to go long way because it take care all this confusions and possible problems in the future.

Good Luck!

St Petersburg Russia
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6. Re: How to get an invitation letter(for Visa) cheaply ?

Are you staying in a hotel(or booking a tour with a Russian authorized tour operator)? If so, they will send the visa support document. The cheaper the hotel or hostel the more likely they will charge for the process that costs them nothing to create other than typing your name and info on a form.

That is the legitimate method, there is no other way to do it and be totally legal.

When you get back to Singapore, take your passport, the visa support copy, a passport style head-shot photo, and completed visa application form to the Russian Embassy's visa section:

51 Nassim Road, Singapore 258439

and pay S$70

That is it. They will give you a pick up date to retrieve your passport

When you arrive in Russia, new registration rules allow 7 calendar days but a hotel will do it immediately without you doing anything. An alternative, if you can read Russian, go to any post office and fill out a form, and pay a small fee based on the days to spent in Russia.

If you are not going to be in Russia over 7 days, no registration is needed. The old rule was 3 working days.

The only thing confusing about this process is the many well meaning but uninformed advice on the internet and travel agents, or by people who profit from generating confusion over what is really quite simple. Visa services are raking in millions of dollars from confusion they themselves created.

When I visit the Russian consulate in the US I use, each morning there are the same couriers from a dozen visa services who each drop off 50-200 passports each. They collect $30-80 a piece for dropping them off and picking them up again. They do not even check them for completeness, or accuracy, the consulate does that. Often they notify the tourist that the process is going to take longer so an expedite fee of an additional $250 or more is needed by the consulate. I had that happen to me twice, and found by talking directly to the consulate they were both bogus charges that were not paid to the consulate. If I was the type, I would probably start my own visa service, the only difference between me and them is I've actually read all the visa and immigration laws of Russia.

Don't get conned by visa services, do it yourself and save, not only money but also knowing that it is done right.

Baltimore, Maryland
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7. Re: How to get an invitation letter(for Visa) cheaply ?

So it is true, the 7 day rule is now in effect? If I arrive on a Monday and leave the very next Monday I am not required to register?

Moscow, Russia
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8. Re: How to get an invitation letter(for Visa) cheaply ?

I agree with most of what stanj says with one exception:

> go to any post office and fill out a form, and pay a small fee based on the days to spent in Russia

This will not work: the form is supposed to be filled out and signed by the host party, not by the visitor! So going to the post office on your own makes no sense whatsoever.

Edited: 10 April 2011, 17:49
St Petersburg Russia
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9. Re: How to get an invitation letter(for Visa) cheaply ?

Marassa is right, the person you are staying with is to go with you to fill out the form. In my case it is me alone since I was hosting myself in my own apartment.

Singapore, Singapore
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10. Re: How to get an invitation letter(for Visa) cheaply ?

Thanks for all the advice.

I wonder if any of the hostel booking websites can tell which hostels will charge or provide free service with a booking.

I try not to encourage any parties for charging such bogus fees, not a matter of amount but principle.

Anyone can answer poster #7 ?

So this registration thing will definitely be done by the hote/hostel free or chargeable ?

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