E-visa to Russia: a simpler way to see the country

Developing incoming tourism in Russia has been one of the top priorities in recent years, so easing of the visa regime was only a matter of time. Normally, tourists willing to see the Red Square and the Hermitage museum had to apply for a visa in consulates, but in 2017 Russia announced electronic visas for tourists from eighteen countries, located mostly in Asia and Northern Africa. Nationals of those countries could enter Far East territories, for example Vladivostok, Transbaikal region, Kamchatka and other regions belonging to the Far Eastern Federal District without visiting a consulate, paying a fee, or waiting in lines. In 2019 it was announced that Kaliningrad region, Leningrad region and Saint Petersburg were aslo added to the e-visa list and can be visited by citizens of 53 different countries, including all the EU states. The eligibility of each country can be checked on the official page of The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. If your country is on the list, you may directly proceed with applying.

What is so different about the e-visa?

There are a few things about the e-visa which make it so special. First of all, e-visas are issued online which means that you can apply while drinking your morning coffee in your favourite armchair. Secondly, e-visas are free. Moreover, the e-visa will be sent to you by e-mail in maximum 4 days after applying (including weekends and public holidays). You just need to print it and you’re ready to go!

How to apply

To start, go to the official web-page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, choose your nationality and an area to visit. The interface is user friendly and is fully translated into English. There are some useful tips for almost every field. Make sure you remember the password used to log in in order to check on the status of your submission.

Official page of The Ministry of Foreign Affairs

You should submit your application for an e-visa not earlier than 20 days and not later than 4 days before the planned date of arrival. Before applying doublecheck your passport as it must be valid for at least 6 months from the date you apply for an e-visa and have free space for border crossing stamps. Make sure to consult the list of border crossing points where e-visas are accepted on the official page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before planning your trip. Pay attention that Moscow airports are not on the list and that you cannot enter Leningrad region and Saint Petersburg by train.

When filling all the necessary fields, please make sure that your surname and name are entered correctly, using only the basic Latin letters as indicated in the first machine-readable line of your passport (the white area with a lot of letters and numbers that you see in the bottom of your passport when you open the page containing your photo), as for some countries names may contain letters with diacritics which cannot be used while filling in an application, so this first machine-readable line of your passport shows you exactly the way you should write your name. So far, this is the most common mistake that leads to rejection while crossing the border.

Submitting your application, it is mandatory to choose you gender: male or female, as mentioned in the passport. If the information provided does not correspond to your passport details, your entry will be denied.

To apply it is necessary to provide a photo in the JPEG format following all the requirements: the photo must be taken in the last six months, there should be no other objects in the background, you should look straight at the camera with a neutral expression, your natural skin color should be seen clearly and the format must be 35x45. Remember, all these requirements are really important and your application can be rejected if your face is not clearly visible.

Important tips on the e-visa restrictions

Keep in mind, that your visa is valid only for one of the areas – if it is issued for Saint Petersburg, you are not allowed to visit other e-visa areas (Kaliningrad or Far East) and it is prohibited to leave the area of your stay, so if you stay in Saint Petersburg, you are not allowed to visit Moscow. All passports are being checked in each airport and railway station even for domestic departures so there is no way to cheat.

Also, you need to calculate the duration of your stay: the allowed period of stay with an e-visa is up to 8 days which does not mean 192 hours: no matter what time you arrive on Monday, you should leave the country not later than the next Monday. However, there is one more rule applied: if you enter on Monday but your visa expires on Wednesday, then Wednesday can be the last day of your stay. 

Remember that the e-visa is valid only for one entry, so once you passed the passport control point and left the territory of Russian Federation, you are not allowed to enter again with the same e-visa. There is no official information on whether there is any restriction on how often you can apply for e-visas so just keep in mind the common rule of 90 days within 180 days. If the duration of your stay in the last 180 days has not exceeded 90 days (with any type of visa), you can apply for another e-visa right after you leave Russia.

For all the visitors to Russia crossing its borders a valid medical insurance is necessary, so doublecheck that your whole stay is covered, and you have it printed. If you don’t, it might be a serious reason to reject entry. 

Please note, that as in any other country, officers have a right to deny your entry if they suspect that your purpose of stay is other than the one mentioned in your visa application or that you somehow might be a threat to the country’s safety. But if you are a traveler eager to see Russia’s famous beauty then you have nothing to worry about. Enjoy your stay!

Passport control

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31 July 2019
Rosa Makhaeva

Many thanks to the specialists of Progulki company for their speed, professional competence and well-organized tour in Saint Petersburg for the Chinese students.
I've been the customer of this company for 3 years already and still have never regretted my choice. The managing is always high level, the buses are comfortable, the guides are qualified, the hotels are good.None of our of our requests or issues was left without solving.

I’m sure we will use the services of Progulki many times and recommend them to our friends – people working there know their job well.

Thank you so much!


May 21 2019
Tamara P

My trip to St Petersburg was short but amazing not only due to the city itself but as well due to this Agency, Natalia and my brilliant guide Victoria.

I had only a weekend in November 2018 to explore this amazing city and very specific interests in art history and architecture. I did not have time to plan it myself properly, so I just shortly explained to Natalia what I would like to see. In very short period of time Natalia offered me a great two days itinerary that blended my wishes ideally - and for a very good price as well. Besides this, having my first experience of St Petersburg with my guide Victoria, it was an exceptional one. Victoria spoke fluent English and had impressive knowledge of St Petersburg, Russian art and culture. In addition, she was very passionate about both the city and her job. I learned a lot from her. The whole trip was organized perfectly and I enjoyed every minute of it. I am learning Russian now - I think this says a lot what kind of experience I had.

I am sure I will come back to St Petersburg and as well to this Agency that I would recommend to everybody who would like to have a special and genuine experience of St Petersburg.
When they say that they care about their customers' experience and that they have knowledge of the city, Russian art, culture and any other area of interest connected with their service, they are among the rare that are telling the truth! They really do. Besides they are true locals! They have an office in the St Petersburg and people who work in this Agency live there. It is not that their Customer Service is placed in the other part of the world while arranging for you a local experience on the other part of the world.


4 May 2018

On April 27, 2018, we ordered a boat trip for a group of 12 French tourists. The trip was a perfect ending to our stay in Saint Petersburg. Tha navigations season had just begun and we were lucky with fine weather. It was a pleasure to see the canals, admire the beautiful streets and historical buildings again. Elena, the guide, made a wonderful excursion, all the tourists were satisfied.

By the way, we were late for the trip for 30 minutes, and I’d like to thank Elena and the boat crew for waiting. We’ll be glad to purchase trips in your company again.


13 August 2016
Alex G

Trip to Petergoff. It was very good organized trip. It was started at time. the guide worked good. Good balance between cost and benefit.
9 June 2016
Ichy B
I highly recommend this walk, especially for first timers in Saint Petersburg!

Very good, the streets are clean and I promise that you won't stop taking pictures.


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