E-visa to St. Petersburg (for free!)
Applying for a visa can sometimes be a nightmare. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the film “ The 12 tasks of Asterix”, but there’s a scene that marvellously depicts how I feel whenever I have to deal with this type of paperwork. I have done it several times already, but I still feel like poor Asterix trying to gather all the papers and fulfil all the requirements, going from one place to another.
And Russian visa is not any visa. Russia has a reputation of being a highly bureaucratic place where paperwork is common, difficult and longlasting. With that in mind, it is not surprising that the visa application can be quite long and boring. Apparently, it used to be much more complex before. I don’t even want to imagine that! Although in Liden & Denz they are always willing to help you with the visa process solving all your doubts, the perspective of having to do all this paperwork might make you decide not to come to Russia. That’s a pity.
But we have good news. There’s something called “e-visa” that might make your life way easier. This type of visa with a simplified procedure exists since 2017 to make things more comfortable for travellers. Another great point is that it’s for free! Until recently, it was only available for those who wanted to travel to Kaliningrad Region and Far Eastern Federal District (where Vladivostok is located). Fortunately, since the first of October of this year, it’s also possible to visit Leningrad Oblast and Saint Petersburg for 8 natural days.
Why not use those days to visit the wonderful city of St. Petersburg and improve your Russian? If you want to learn more about this type of visa keep on reading!
Limitations of the e-visa
E-visa is great but, unfortunately, there are some limitations you should take into account before booking your flight and your amazing one-week Russian language course at Liden & Denz. On the following lines, I have summarised the key aspects you should take into account before applying for the e-visa.
What do I need to get an e-visa?
If you are eligible for this type of visa you just need to apply at least 4 days before entering the country. To do so, you will only need to have a digital picture, your passport and an insurance policy that covers you on the territory of the Russian Federation. Although the e-visa is for free, you might need to pay for your insurance if you still do not have one. Unlike with the traditional visa, you don’t need any other document like bookings or invitation letters that justify the purpose of your visa which is a big advantage.
Citizens of which countries are eligible for the e-visa?
Citizens of 53 countries can currently apply for an e-visa. Most European citizens can apply for it except citizens from the UK. To be sure that you can apply for this type of visa check the list of countries. In case of doubt, do not hesitate to contact the consulate.
How do I enter the country?
If you apply for an e-visa for the Leningrad Region you have to enter through any of the following checkpoints on the region listed on the webpage of the consulate. There are plenty of options: you can fly to Pulkovo airport, you can come by bus or just walk from Estonia if you wish! Unfortunately, you can enter the country walking through the “Ivangorod” checkpoint in Estonia, but you cannot enter by train yet. Entering the Leningradsky region by train might be possible with the e-visa in the future, but this option is currently not an option.
How long can I stay in Russia?
With the e-visa, you are allowed to stay in Russia for up to 8 days. But be careful because this does not mean you can stay for 192 hours. The days start at midnight regardless of the actual time you enter the country. For example, if you enter the country on the 1st of May at 5 pm, you will have to leave the country the 9th before midnight (and not the 9th at 5 pm). Also, note that you can never stay longer than the dates mentioned on your visa.
Can I travel wherever I want in Russia once I’m there?
Unfortunately, although you are free to travel on the entire territory of Leningrad Region, you can not explore other areas of Russia. Nevertheless, the e-visa is only valid for 8 natural days and there are plenty of places to discover in St. Petersburg or Leningrad Region. If you really want to spend some days in Moscow or travel elsewhere in Russia, you should apply for a regular visa. You can read more on how to apply for a regular visa here.
Applying and getting your e-visa
Once you know whether you can apply for this type of visa, it’s time to talk about the steps to follow. You will just need Internet access, a picture of yourself and to have your passport in hand. You can apply for it here.
Once you have filled in all the required information and applied, you can check the status of your visa online. Remember, you have to apply at least 4 days before your departure. Once your application is approved, you will be sent the e-visa document on PDF format. You will have to print it and take it with you on your trip together with the healthcare insurance certificate.
On this post, I’ve summarized the main details, but I strongly encourage you to read all the conditions for issuing the e-visa that can be read on the webpage where you apply for the visa. Some more specific details might be missing here or some conditions might change in the future.
I hope you find the information useful and that we will see each other soon in the cultural capital of Russia.