Travel to Russia has never been easier under the new Russian E-visa. Image: Pinterest

It’s fair to say that after months of restrictions and the disruption of daily life that the coronavirus pandemic has afflicted on the world, most people are looking forward to a nice long vacation.

And if you’ve set your sights on Russia for a post-COVID-19 trip, then getting a visa for the country is about to become a lot easier.

That’s because the Russian government is launching a new E-Visa for Russia that will allow travelers from 52 eligible countries to visit the country through 29 approved points of entry.

Though Russian E-visas for select areas of Russia were previously available, this new electronic process will permit travel to the entirety of the country with a visa obtained online for the very first time.

Benefits of Visiting Russia with a Unified E-Visa

Russia is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination although, like most countries around the world, the tourist economy suffered during 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic (Russia is estimated to have lost out on the equivalent of around US$7 billion dollars in tourism revenue in the last year).

However, the Russian government is hoping to turn the situation around in 2021 with the launch of the E-Visa, as the streamlined online application is expected to entice tourists back in a big way and boost arrivals for tourism by around 20-25% over the numbers from 2019.

This is not the first time an E-visa for Russia has been launched: the Russian government implemented a regional online visa for the Far East area in 2017 for a select few foreign citizens, followed by visas that permitted a stay in St.Petersburg and Leningrad and then the Kaliningrad exclave in 2019.

However, the new Russia-wide online visa has several advantages over these regional E-Visa types, including:

  • Permits a single-entry stay of up to 16 days, over 8 days with the regional E-visas
  • Valid for 60 days to enter the country from approval, instead of 30 days
  • Available to over 50 eligible nationalities, including citizens of European Union (EU) countries, China, Japan, and Mexico
  • Allows travel between any region of Russia, which was not possible with the regional E-visas, including larger metropolitan centers and lesser-known cities in Russia alike.

Aside from permitting stays for tourism, the E-visa is also available for business trips and visiting family and friends as well as to participate in cultural and sporting events.

The biggest advantage of the unified E-visa is that it can be obtained exclusively online without having to visit a Russian embassy or consulate to submit paperwork and supporting documents in person. 

Documents You Need to Apply

The unified Russia E-visa online form allows applicants to electronically upload the few pieces of documentation they need. These are:

  • A passport from an eligible country valid for at least 6 months at the time of submitting the form (an image of the passport biographical page needs to be uploaded during the application)
  • A digital image of the applicant, recently taken and passport-style
  • Travel insurance that covers any medical expenses that may be incurred while in Russia (some nationalities are exempt from this).

Applicants are also required to have a valid credit or debit card to finalize the processing fee required to submit the application (the cost of E-visa processing is approximately US$40).

How To Complete the E-visa Application

As opposed to applying for a Russian visa from an embassy, which can take several weeks to finalize, the process for obtaining an E-visa can be completed in a matter of minutes and only involves a few simple steps:

  • Fill in the easy online form with basic personal information and passport data
  • Provide a current email address to which the approved E-visa will be sent
  • Upload the relevant supporting documents
  • Pay the Russia E-visa processing fee

Once the form has been completed and submitted, it usually only takes a maximum of 4 business days for the E-visa to be approved.Applicants can submit their application up to 40 days before their intended date of travel to Russia.

Nevertheless, applicants are advised to ensure all of the information they supply on the form is correct and free of mistakes before they submit it, as even small mistakes can result in processing delays or a denial of the application. The passport used to complete the form must also be the same one the traveler will later use to enter Russia with the E-visa. 

Traveling to Russia with the Unified E-visa

Once the E-visa has been approved and a PDF of the document has been received by the traveler via email, they are then able to print a copy to present alongside their passport at any of the following pre-approved entry points in the country:

  • Airports: Pulkovo, Belgorod, Volgograd, Ekaterinburg (Koltsovo), Kazan, Krasnodar (Pashkovsky), Krasnoyarsk (Yemelyanovo), Vnukovo (Moscow), Domodedovo (Moscow), Sheremetyevo (Moscow), Nizhny Novgorod (Strigino), Novosibirsk (Tolmachevo), Rostov-on-Don (Platov), Samara (Kurumoch)
  • Sea ports: Vladivostok, Zarubino, Saint Petersburg Marine Station, Saint Petersburg Passenger Port
  • Road checkpoints: Bagrationovsk, Gusev, Mamonovo (Grzechotki), Mamonovo (Gronowo), Morskoje, Sovetsk, Ivangorod, Ubylinka
  • Pedestrian access: Ivangorod
  • Entry by rail: Pogranichny, Khasan

One final note: if you’re planning to visit Russia with your children, make sure that all your kids have an approved E-visa, as each traveler is required to have an individually approved travel document to gain access to the country!