Moscow St Petersburg

Waiting on the Russian Visa Gods

This is a continuation of my kick-off post about our upcoming trip to Russia.

Today, Peter and I submitted our Russian tourist visa applications. Now we wait.

The Russian tourist visa application has been going on forever. I started my application at the end of January and over the past several months, I’ve stopped, started, stopped, and started a dozen times. I estimate that I spent 15 hours reading the website, filling out the application form online, reviewing the printed application, and taking screen shots of the online application questions for Peter to use when filling out his application.

Why did it take so long?

The online application wizard is crap. It is approximately 20 pages long and the only way to get from page to page is by clicking the Next and Previous buttons. So, if a mistake is made on page 13, one has to click the Next button 12 times to get to page 13. Oh, and the pages aren’t numbered, so you have to read through the questions on each page to find the question that you answered incorrectly. Last but not least, the only way to submit the online application is via a Submit button on the very last page. Next, next, next, next, next…

In addition to the lack of pagination, the questions on the online form are phrased differently than on the printed form. Due to this (and suggestions from Peter’s colleague), I edited my application about 40 times. That’s a lot of Next button clicking which equates to a lot of time.

As an example, the online question is this: Have you been issued a passport in any other country than the one specified previously?

The text displayed for this question on the printed application form is this: List all countries that have ever issued you a passport.

Since I have only ever been issued a passport by the United States of America, I answered “no” to the online question. When I printed the application form, nothing displayed in the field, which was incorrect as I have a USA passport. Next, next, next, next, next…

There were numerous scenarios like the one above. There were also very odd questions like:

  • Father’s name
  • Mother’s name
  • University information
  • Job history

My favorite question was: Who will pay for your stay in Russia?

After Peter and I submitted our online applications, I took the printed applications to the Russian Visa Application Centre in London. Exactly. What is the point of submitting an online application when you have to provide them with a printed application? No idea.

The application center was nice. It was a lot like a DMV in the States but brand new. I recon the application center was so nice because it costs a small fortune to get a Russian visa. Let’s add up the visa application costs for our St. Petersburg trip thus far, shall we?

  • Visa application service fee (x2): $86.
  • Visa application processing fee (x2): $254.
  • Visa sized photos for Pete’s application: $8.
  • Train ticket to London to drop-off the printed applications/passports: $17.
  • Tube fares: $6.
  • *Extra passport pages for Pete’s passport prior to travel: $82.
  • *Train ticket to London to collect passports following week: $17.
  • *Tube fares to collect passports following week: $6.

That’s a grand total of $476 and our visas are not yet approved. If our visas are denied, we get to pay the service fees, processing fees, train tickets, and tube fares again.

It is expensive to travel to Russia and I hope it’s worth it.

Click here for the next post in the ongoing Russia saga.

0 comments on “Waiting on the Russian Visa Gods

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