Travel to Russia - questions and answers
Travel to Russia comes with lots of questions!!! Please click on the question and you will be taken to the answer below or just browse this section. If something is still not clear or if you have additional questions, please contact us for help or contact your order manager.
- How do I get a Russian visa?
- What documents are required to receive a Russian visa?
- What are the new Russian visa regulations for US citizens?
- Is it possible to order Russian visa support documents 6 months or more in advance of applying to the Russian Consulate for the visa?
- I want to enter Russia from China (via the Trans-Siberian train). Can I apply for a visa at the Russian Consulate or Embassy in Beijing, China?
- Do I have to register my visa when in Russia?
- I would like to use your services but at the moment I can’t pay with my credit card. Can I use someone else’s credit card?
- I want to pay by bank transfer. Please advise the best way.
- Do you add additional fees for payments by credit cards?
- Can I pay by credit card for the balance of your services when I arrive in Russia?
- How will I get the key to the apartment? Will somebody be there to meet me or we should come to your office to pick up the keys?
- What is the security deposit?
- When is check-in and check out? (for apartments)
- What documents do I need to check into a Russian hotel?
- How will my hotel confirmation voucher or visa support letter be delivered to me?
- Is it possible for 2 people to stay in a single room?
- Is it possible to request a no-smoking room?
Transfers – airport and station pick up
Tours and Train Tickets
- We are interested in your Moscow and St. Petersburg trips. We are wondering if there are certain days that the trips start on?
- What is included into the price of a packaged tour
- What is included into the price of a city excursion?
- What is the difference between train ticket's classes?
- How can I buy tickets and how will they be delivered?
- I have heard rumors that Western passengers are being taken advantage of on Russian trains and in some cases even have their items stolen. Is it safe to travel by Russian trains?
How to Find Us
Q.: How do I get a Russian visa?
A.: We can send you a visa invitation (sometimes called a voucher) - the main document that you need to apply for a Russian visa. The invitation is needed when you submit your visa application forms to the Russian Consulate in your country. For the application forms, see the visa section of our site where you can download them and learn more about the process of applying. You can either mail in the forms or visit the Consulate in person. We can issue the visa invitation during 1-2 working days. If you need your visa invitation urgently, we can issue and send it to you on the same day. We usually send scanned versions of the invitations by email but can also send them by fax. Sometimes, Consulates in certain countries require the original invitation. In this case, we can mail you the original by Federal Express or by a cheaper but slower service (via Finland) called West Post. Please check with the Consulate to know if you need the original. Postage is an extra charge.
Along with the Russian Visa invitation, US citizens can use the following documents to receive their visa: Confirmation of a hotel reservation, a contract for the provision of tourist services, confirmation of reception of the tourist. The above mentioned documents shall have the register number from the Uniform Federal Register of the Tour Operators of the Russian Federal Tourism Agency and the seal of the host organization.
Q.: What documents are required to receive a Russian visa?
A.: Usually the documents consist of: your original passport, 1-2 passport photos, 1-2 Russian visa application forms, an HIV test if you are applying for a business visa (tourist visa applications do not require this) and of course, the visa invitation (voucher) - this is the document that we can supply you with. However, to be 100% sure of what documents are necessary at specific Consulates, we suggest that you contact the Consulates directly. You can find a listing of phone numbers and addresses either on this website or the site www.russianconsulate.org.
Q.: What are the new Russian visa regulations for US citizens?
A.:In accordance with the Agreement between the Russian Federation and the United States of America on the simplification of visa formalities for nationals of the Russian Federation and the United States of America effective September 9, 2012, US citizens shall as a rule be issued multiple-entry business, private, humanitarian and tourist visas for a stay of no more than 6 months starting from the date of each entry. The visas shall be valid for three years (36 months) from the date of issue of the visa. You can download the new Agreement and updates on Russian visa requirements
Q.: Is it possible to order Russian visa support documents 6 months or more in advance of applying to the Russian Consulate for the visa?
A.: Yes, you can make an order on our web-site in advance. Our tourist visa invitation will be valid for more than 6 months (with business invitations, we can only issue you a visa within 45 days of your planned arrival in Russia). But it is important that you actually apply to the Consulate within 4 months of your arrival in Russia – for example, trying to apply at the Consulate 6 months in advance is usually a problem.
Q.: I want to enter Russia from China (via the Trans-Siberian train). Can I apply for a visa at the Russian Consulate or Embassy in Beijing, China?
A.: You can apply for a Russian Visa in all countries in which a Russian Consulate is located. It does not depend on your nationality. But please remember to check the specific visa requirements at the Consulate in the country where you will be applying (sometimes they require the original visa invitation rather than accepting a fax or scanned copy).
Q.: Do I have to register my visa when in Russia?
A.: Please note, that all foreigners staying in Russia for more than 7 working days, must have their Russian visas registered for the entire period of their stay. You must register on the day of your arrival or you may be required to pay fines or may experience trouble when leaving the country. Our company can provide registration service.
If you are staying at a hotel, the hotel will register your visa. Please note that the hotel might ask you to pay for the registration additionally (approximately 150-200 RUR per person).
Q.: I would like to use your services but at the moment I can’t pay with my credit card. Can I use someone else’s credit card?
A.: For security reasons we prefer that people pay for our services with their own credit cards. However, it is possible to have someone else pay for you if this person fills in, signs and sends us a credit card authorization form (please, ask our managers to send you authorization form).
Q.: I want to pay by bank transfer. Please advise the best way.
A.: If you’d like to pay by bank transfer please contact us and we will send you an invoice with our bank details. All bank transfers should be made at least 21 days before your check – in date.
Q.: Do you add additional fees for payments by credit cards?
A.: Because of specific taxes and banking costs, we charge an additional 5% service fee for credit card payments by American Express Cards.
Q.: Can I pay by credit card for the balance of your services when I arrive in Russia?
A.: For hotels and visas, we require 100% prepayment by credit card at the time of booking the service, for apartments we frequently only require a deposit which is a percentage of the cost of your stay usually ranging between 15% - 50%. We then require that the unpaid balance for the service be paid in cash at check in. If you are worried about carrying large quantities of cash in Russia, you may just want to use an ATM machine near our office.
Q.: How will I get the key to the apartment? Will somebody be there to meet me or we should come to your office to pick up the keys?
A.: We highly suggest taking our transfer. Our driver will have the keys from the apartment and he will help you to find the apartment. It is the most convenient way to get to the apartment and to arrange the check in. For the transfer from the airport please send me the name of the airport, flight number, airlines, time and the city where you’re flying from. You can check our rates here.
If you absolutely do not require a transfer you are welcome to collect keys at our office during the working hours (Monday-Friday 10-18)
Q.: What is the security deposit?
A.: If staying in an apartment, a security deposit of $100 or 100 EURO will be required at the time of check in and will be returned at check out less costs of any damage to the apartment or equipment in the apartment. A security deposit of $100 or 100 EURO is made by the client as a monetary guarantee of abidance to our terms and conditions for apartment stays. The security deposit will be returned to the client after return of the premises keys to the offices of City Realty or a representative of City Realty.
Q.: When is check-in and check out? (for apartments)
A.: Check in time is 13:00 in St. Petersburg and 14.00 in Moscow unless previously agreed upon with with the apartment management. Check out time is 11:30 in St. Petersburg and 12:00 in Moscow unless previously agreed upon with apartment management. Early check-in & late check-out is an additional 50% of one night's stay if the apartment is not booked.
Q.: What documents do I need to check into a Russian hotel?
A.: The hotel confirmation voucher that our company sends to you and your passport are enough. The most important information in your voucher is the confirmation number. So even if you don’t have a voucher but know the confirmation number, this is usually enough. However, please note that many mini-hotels in St. Petersburg do not issue reservation numbers, in this case, use your first and last name.
Q.: How will my hotel confirmation voucher or visa support letter be delivered to me?
A.: We can either send it to you by email (as an attached file) or by fax – original hotel confirmations are not needed, copies are fine. For visa invitations, if the original is needed, we can mail it to you by Federal Express or through West Post (a slower service that works via Finland).
Q.: Is it possible for 2 people to stay in a single room?
A.: Unfortunately this is not possible. Only one person can be accommodated in a single room. This room is intended for single use only.
Q.: Is it possible to request a no-smoking room?
A.: In some hotels this is possible but not in all of them – this is a situation very specific to Russia. Please ask us in the comments section of your inquiry form and we will do our best but in Russia, it is not guaranteed.
Q.: Where and by whom will I be met for my transfer?
A.: You will be met by a driver holding a sign with your name on it. If you arrive on an International flight, you will be met at the airport exit. If you arrive by train you will be met near your carriage (you should tell us the number of the carriage) or at the head of the train if you have not indicated your carriage.
Q.: How long will the driver wait for me?
A.: Airport pickup: The driver will wait for free up to 1 hour. If wait is more than 1 hour, for each additional half hour, 6 EURO will be charged.
Train Station pickup: The driver will wait for free up to half an hour. If the wait is more than half an hour, for each additional half hour, 6 EURO will be charged.
Pick up from Apartment or Hotel: The driver will wait for free up to 15 minutes. If wait is more than 15 minutes, for each additional half hour, 6 EURO will be charged.
The driver will wait up to 2 hours. If the client does appear within this time frame or does not for any other reasons use the ordered transfer services at the time specified in the order, the order will be considered fulfilled and no refund will be available. Cancellation of transportation must be advised not less than 3 working days before the date of execution.
Tours and excursions
Q.: We are interested in your Moscow and St. Petersburg trips. We are wondering if there are certain days that the trips start on?
A.: Express to Russia organizes not only group tours but individual ones as well. So the tour can be organized individually and it can be customized according to individual preferences and can start on any day that you prefer.
Q.: What is included into the price of a packaged tour?
A.: Packaged tour prices include accommodation with breakfasts at the hotel, arrival and departure transfers, excursions according to the tour program, train tickets Moscow – St. Petersburg if it is a tour that combines both of these cities. However it is best for you to check what is included in the price of each individual tour by referring to the specific tour page or by asking your customer service manager because sometimes extras are included such as lunches, early check in, additional breakfast, etc.
Q.: What is included into the price of a city excursion?
A.: We offer different types of excursions. Some of them are walking tours and here we include guide service and entrance fee to the museums if there are visits to museums. If you choose excursions with transport, car and driver service are included as well as guide service and entrance fee.
Q.: What is the difference between train ticket's classes?
A.: There are a few different classes of accommodation on Russian trains.
1st class is a cabin for 2 people with sleeping berths.
2nd class is a cabin for 4 people with sleeping berths (2 below and 2 above – like bunk beds). On some International trains 2nd class cabin has 3 sleeping berths and 6 sleeping berths but on Russian trains, just 4.
3rd class is a cabin with a sleeping berths not separated from other cabins by doors. You will basically be sleeping in an open car with 40 other people.
Seats – self explanatory.
Usually economy class seats are seats in a carriage (no separate compartments).
Business class seats can be in compartments for 6 people or just wider seats.
When a ticket states that it comes with service, this is usually a lunch box snack and occasionally a hot meal.
Q.: I have heard rumors that Western passengers are being taken advantage of on Russian trains and in some cases even have their items stolen. Is it safe to travel by Russian trains?
A.: There are high speed, newly renovated, high quality service trains called «firmennij» and common passenger trains in Russia. The security level on firmennij trains especially if you travel 1st class is quite high. But if you travel by on a common passenger train for a long distance you should be very careful and look after your stuff. We don’t recommend that foreigners travel by 3rd class especially if this is your first time in Russia and do not speak Russian. It is always a good idea to keep your passport and money with you at all times.
Q.: How can I buy tickets and how will they be delivered?
A.: Please fill in an order form to purchase tickets or just ask the customer service representative that is taking care of your order.
A lot of Russian trains (almost all trains on the route Moscow - Saint Petersburg) have electronic registration that is very convenient. After the tickets are issued we send them to you by email. All you have to do is print the tickets and show them with your passport to the conductor boarding the train.
We can deliver paper tickets by West Post (a postal service that works via Finland) or by Federal Express (express post). Your tickets can be delivered within 10-14 days by West Post (it costs 18 USD or 15 EURO) or within 3-5 days by FedEx (it costs around 80 USD or 65 EURO). Sending tickets by post is slightly risky anywhere in the world. Our company uses the postal carriers Federal Express (for express post) and West Post (for regular post sent via Finland) which are more reliable than regular Russian post. However, Express to Russia, City Realty and Best Hotels Russia cannot guarantee the safe delivery of tickets. We will always do our best but the customer must realize that once the tickets have been posted, they are out of our control. Therefore, delivery of tickets is at the customer’s own risk and if tickets are subsequently lost in the mail, both postage costs and ticket cost are non-refundable. By purchasing tickets through our company, the customer should understand and accept this. If Federal Express is used, the customer will have the right to make a claim and complaint directly to Federal Express. If you start you travel in Moscow or Saint-Petersburg we can deliver ticket to any address in both cities. The cost is 10 EURO. Or you can pick up the tickets in our offices.
How to find us
Q.: Where are your offices situated?
A.: Our offices are located in the City Realty offices in both St. Petersburg and Moscow.
St. Petersburg: Muchnoi Per 2, lit G – City Realty.
We are located right in the historical center of St. Petersburg. We are only a 5 minute walk from the Nevsky Prospect Metro Station. Exit the metro on Nevsky Prospect Canal Griboyedova. Cross Nevsky Prospect. Walk along Canal Griboyedova and make your fourth left onto Muchnoi Pereulok. We are located at the address 2 Muchnoi Pereulok on the left hand side of the street. The entrance is from the street. Please ask the security at reception for the City Realty offices. They know us as City Realty - one of the trade names of Best Hotels Russia. Tel: +7 812 570 6342, +7 812 570 4709.
We are open Monday - Friday, from 09.30 am until 06.30 pm.