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Moscow - visa and travel questions

by penny_g Online Now Jan 28, 2013 at 4:00 AM

Dear all,

I am planning to go to Russia end of March for the first time. I have therefore to apply for a visa at the embassy. The whole process is a bit stupid because I have to make bookings for a flight and accommodation and paying with no guarantee that I'll get the visa but I guess it's more or less the same for any other country.

I wanted to ask for any secure websites where I can book a bus ticket from St. Petersburg to Moscow and return. It might be also in Russian. Do they accept credit cards? How secure is it to have a place booked. Will the embassy recognise it as an accommodation if I book a night bus?

Many thanks in advance!

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29 Answers
  • Sunny_cat's Profile Photo

    Re: Moscow - visa and travel questions

    by Sunny_cat Online Now Jan 28, 2013 at 4:56 AM

    About bus - Nobody use it, train is cheap and more convenient.

    1. VT Forum temporarily unavailable

    2. eng.rzd.ru/statice/public/rz...

    You can but train ticket in all big train stations and in special ticket offices in the city (with small comission). And, certanly, you can pay by credit cards.
    eng.rzd.ru/statice/public/rz...

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  • penny_g's Profile Photo

    Re: Moscow - visa and travel questions

    by penny_g Online Now Jan 28, 2013 at 5:38 AM

    Thank you so much!

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  • MoscowTraveller's Profile Photo

    Re: Moscow - visa and travel questions

    by MoscowTraveller Online Now Jan 28, 2013 at 11:56 PM

    Zdraveyte!
    I agree to Katrin, the best travelling from Piter to Moscow is train.
    I’m not sure but 2 years ago you couldn’t use credit cards issued by banks, which were not registered in Russia, for tickets purchase by INTERNET. In tickets offices everything was OK.
    Welcome to Russia!

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  • Sunny_cat's Profile Photo

    Re: Moscow - visa and travel questions

    by Sunny_cat Online Now Jan 29, 2013 at 12:10 AM

    In english vesion of RZD site there is no internet purchasing of tickets. They don't provide this online sevice for foreigners. It is only for russian citizen via russian web site.

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  • penny_g's Profile Photo

    Re: Moscow - visa and travel questions

    by penny_g Online Now Jan 29, 2013 at 1:13 AM

    Dear both, thank you! I have a new question where you can help me. Yesterday I called the Russian embassy to enquire about the tourist visa and I might have a problem. Actually on the visa it will be written that I will be residing in St. Petersburg. This would mean that if the police stops me on the train to Moscow or wherever in Russia, they will want to know what I am doing in Moscow and why I am not in St. Petersburg. I tried to explain if the embassy will recognise my train ticket (which will be the night train)as an accommodation but the lady did not give me a clear answer.

    I therefore wanted to ask you if I really will have problems if the police stops me in Moscow or in the train? The issue with the accommodation shouldn't be a problem I guess because I can always book a cheap hostel and prepay 1 EUR only.

    Many thanks.

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  • Sunny_cat's Profile Photo

    Re: Moscow - visa and travel questions

    by Sunny_cat Online Now Jan 29, 2013 at 2:06 AM

    Why do you think, that in visa will be information about your accomodation?
    I've never heared about this :)
    And, when I make request about Shengen visa I book cheap hotel in 1 city, and sometimes after taking visa stamp in my passport I cancel reservation and do reservations in few cityes, if I have compound route ;) But it is possible, if consulate dont request the voucher. In Russia they will ask you a voucher, Im not doubt. In this case, you should take overnight train and make hotel reservation in both cities date to date. For example: Moscow hotel 1-2 feb + overnight train 2 feb + StP 3-4 feb + overnight train 4 feb + Moscow 5 feb. They will understand, that you will go for 2 days in Stp. No problem.

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  • Sunny_cat's Profile Photo

    Re: Moscow - visa and travel questions

    by Sunny_cat Online Now Jan 29, 2013 at 2:15 AM

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  • penny_g's Profile Photo

    Re: Moscow - visa and travel questions

    by penny_g Online Now Jan 29, 2013 at 2:28 AM

    Thanks, Cathrin! What do you mean by voucher? Will they recognise an Internet booking for a hotel as such a voucher? And I'm afraid that I won't be able to attach the train reservation when I apply for visa because as you said, Internet booking for the night train is not possible for accounts outside Russia.

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  • Sunny_cat's Profile Photo

    Re: Moscow - visa and travel questions

    by Sunny_cat Online Now Jan 29, 2013 at 3:01 AM

    Voucher - is а oficial confirmation about prepayment for reservation (usually confirmation letter from hotel or turistic company on blank with stamp). If you use electronical reservation system (like "booking.com" or "agoda.com") send the letter to hotel, they will send you a confirmation letter after payment. There are two way - to choose non-refundable booking in system, or money transfer to hotel or travel company. But 2nd method is more complicated manner :))

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  • Sunny_cat's Profile Photo

    Re: Moscow - visa and travel questions

    by Sunny_cat Online Now Jan 29, 2013 at 3:13 AM

    PS they dont interested in train tickets, they need to check only accomodation. If you do reservation in 2 cityes, they will anderstand, that 1 night will be in the train. Or you can make 1 reservation for all period in 1 city, and nobody will ask you, where do you go.

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  • penny_g's Profile Photo

    Re: Moscow - visa and travel questions

    by penny_g Online Now Jan 29, 2013 at 3:14 AM

    Thank you, Cathrin! Now it's totally clear to me. I believe that I'll enjoy your country.

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  • Skillsbus's Profile Photo

    Re: Moscow - visa and travel questions

    by Skillsbus Online Now Jan 31, 2013 at 1:40 AM

    As a regular traveller to Russia, when you apply for your visa you have to state where you intend staying. That does not include travel by train.The hotels normally do the local registration for you as standard so if your not listed as being in Moscow it might cause problems.

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  • penny_g's Profile Photo

    Re: Moscow - visa and travel questions

    by penny_g Online Now Jan 31, 2013 at 4:43 AM

    In the end, if it is that complicated, I am not sure if I will go...

    Do you mean that this is forbidden or illegal for a foreign visitor to travel by night train to Moscow because they won't overnight in a hotel?

    Without having been to Russia before, I doubt what you say; otherwise they won't advertise Russian trains to foreigners in English online. Plus, what about those who take the trans-Syberian rail? Obviously, they neither stay in a hotel ...

    Correct me if wrong but I invite also the others, especially native Russians to comment.

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  • Sunny_cat's Profile Photo

    Re: Moscow - visa and travel questions

    by Sunny_cat Online Now Jan 31, 2013 at 5:32 AM

    "Native Russians" cant be experts in this question, because they dont request for visa to Russia :)) But I hope that Russia isnt police state, controled over every facet of the people’s lives :) But maybe you should to adjust any terms and conditions in Russian Embassy, we cant know all fine points of emigratory legislation.

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  • Sunny_cat's Profile Photo

    Re: Moscow - visa and travel questions

    by Sunny_cat Online Now Jan 31, 2013 at 5:36 AM

    PS And pls could you publish the results in the VT forum ;) We need in satisfaction of our curiosity :)

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  • spanishguy's Profile Photo

    Re: Moscow - visa and travel questions

    by spanishguy Online Now Jan 31, 2013 at 7:33 AM

    Hi Penny!

    Traveling to Russia is not such a problem ;-) I have to admit that it's not like moving across the EU for us, but don't be afraid about visiting this lovely country.

    In your visa you'll find written just the name of the company which invited you. It could be the hotel of your first reservation or just a company, like West-East Link. Anyway, what it's important is to make the registration in the Police Station once you are going to overnight in a city. If you're going to lodge in a hotel they will do it for you and give your papers back. For sure if you are taking an overnight trip by train or bus it'd not be a problem. Just do the registration again in your arrival city exactly the same way you did on the first one.

    On the other hand I can advice you to travel to Moscow in the high speed train, Sap San. It's very comfortable, fast and easy to buy the tickets in advance before living.

    Hope it would help you to see everything in better mood!

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  • Skillsbus's Profile Photo

    Re: Moscow - visa and travel questions

    by Skillsbus Online Now Jan 31, 2013 at 12:49 PM

    I think you slightly misunderstand what i was trying to explain.
    If your travelling by train as you wish to, it is impossible to register anywhere as your travelling, hence you only need to declare on your visa your booked accomadation. By this i mean where you are staying in Spb and if your staying overnight in Moscow.
    On the visa application you don't need to specify the dates you are staying anywhere, all it asks for are the details of where your staying.
    If you have any further questions i'll be happy to help :)

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  • penny_g's Profile Photo

    Re: Moscow - visa and travel questions

    by penny_g Online Now Feb 1, 2013 at 12:57 AM

    Thanks for the tips.I am going to check with the Russian visa center again and let you know. Cross fingers to make the trip.

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  • Muscovite's Profile Photo

    Re: Moscow - visa and travel questions

    by Muscovite Online Now Feb 13, 2013 at 3:09 AM

    Agree with Sunny_Cat - the train is the way to go from Petersburg to Moscow.
    By the way, there is a VT member who knows everything about trains - see GyuriFT pages or you can mail him.

    Concerning visa etc., trying to figure out what 'they' (police, border control, customs officers) may think or not think, I would actually ask those THEM.
    Try this official site
    moscow.ru/en/guide/trip_plan...

    Then, you have an embassy in Moscow and maybe a consulate in Petersburg. Why not make them do some job for your taxes?

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  • penny_g's Profile Photo

    Re: Moscow - visa and travel questions

    by penny_g Online Now Feb 28, 2013 at 3:16 AM

    As promised, I will update you what happened after the visit to the Russian Visa Center in Belgium. The people were really nice and helpful, though I think that the procedure is not quite efficient.

    Since we travel with no agency and we make our own bookings, it is logical that the completed hotel reservations should be a good evidence that you have somewhere to stay while in Russia. They however do not accept hotel reservations but "tourist vouchers", which is a bit strange, since we don't use a tourist agency. An alternative might be to ask the hotel where you'll stay for a hotel voucher which can be accepted by the Embassy possibly. But most hotels will not do it for you, so the only way is to go through an online agency and pay around 20 EUR for a tourist voucher. It's a kind of "money for nothing", because when you request it they even don't ask you for a reservation or so but anyways.

    In the end we decided to stay only in Moscow because this might be a long trip to St. Petersburg and due to a time shortage we might not be able to enjoy it enough. Otherwise I think St. Petersburg is a better option for a trip, while you enter Russia from a neighbouring Baltic country.

    Now we have the visas and despite the bit complicated and inefficient procedure, we were quite happy with the Russian people at the visa center and hope to enjoy Russia, as well.

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  • Muscovite's Profile Photo

    Re: Moscow - visa and travel questions

    by Muscovite Online Now Feb 28, 2013 at 3:32 AM

    Good for you!
    20 EUR for a tourist voucher - looks pretty much like extortion. Folks at the consulate have go by the rules, but you can always challenge the rules as such. Do you use Twitter? https://twitter.com/sergeylavrov - This is our foreign minister, pretty sensible fellow, speaks English, too.

    About St. Petersburg - you can take a day trip on a night train, but that's a bit tiresome. Or cruise from Finland - they say no visa needed.

    Good luck!

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  • penny_g's Profile Photo

    Re: Moscow - visa and travel questions

    by penny_g Online Now Feb 28, 2013 at 3:49 AM

    Haha! "Extortion" - I wouldn't say so, because 20 EUR is nothing anyways and it goes to a private company, not to the Russian authorities. But I still think that if you have on the table a completed hotel reservation and a standard tourist voucher (which everyone can get only by giving passport No and "tell" a hotel name in Moscow) -- the completed reservation has more weight than the tourist voucher. Anyways, this is the procedure for which the Russian authorities opted so anyone who wants to go to Russia needs to stick to it :)

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  • Skillsbus's Profile Photo

    by Skillsbus Online Now Feb 28, 2013 at 2:26 PM

    Its good to know you have got it sorted out :-)

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  • DEBRUXELLES's Profile Photo

    Re: Moscow - visa and travel questions

    by DEBRUXELLES Online Now Mar 13, 2013 at 9:51 AM

    Dear Penny, you better find an accomodation better than a night bus because there`s little chance it would be recognized. There`s no problem in getting a bus to Moscow at the S.-Petersbourgh( the city commonly called Piter in here) central bus station. A couple of hours and you`re moving to Moscow. It`s easier than booking)

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  • ElenaKKKK's Profile Photo

    Re: Moscow - visa and travel questions

    by ElenaKKKK Online Now Mar 19, 2013 at 2:20 AM

    May be too late, but better late: my 5 cents to make you confident and avoid extra worries: you do not  have to  register if you stay somethere less than 3 working days (i.e. except Saturday, Sunday, national holidays). Here is the statement (the Russian law concerning foreigners): Article 21. Foreign Citizen Registration Procedure 3. The registration of a foreign citizen arriving in the Russian Federation shall be made at his/her place of stay in the Russian Federation. In case of change of a place of stay in the Russian Federation a foreign citizen shall have to register himself/herself within three working days from the date of arrival at the new place of stay. (mid.ru/ns-osndoc.nsf/osndden... Federal law "Concerning the legal status...." So you can register at first place you stay (hotel) and travel by car, train, bus etc. without poroblems keeping in mind 3 (working) days. In the case police will ask you to confirm your legal state (but I don't think they will , otherwise any accident), you can give them contacts of the hotel you registered. Good luck and wish you good weather))

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  • ElenaKKKK's Profile Photo

    Re: Moscow - visa and travel questions

    by ElenaKKKK Online Now Mar 19, 2013 at 2:22 AM

    Pardon, I meant: "to confirm your legal STATUS" :-)

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  • Muscovite's Profile Photo

    Re: Moscow - visa and travel questions

    by Muscovite Online Now Mar 19, 2013 at 10:10 AM

    Good point, Elena KKKK!

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  • ElenaKKKK's Profile Photo

    Re: Moscow - visa and travel questions

    by ElenaKKKK Online Now Mar 19, 2013 at 10:29 AM

    Thank you, Alla:-) Just found I pasted uncomplete link which doesnt't work: here is the same official site of Ministry Foreign Affiars (there are English, French and German versions) - short resume of the law I mentioned before mid.ru/bul_ns_en.nsf/kartafl...

    Oups, the VT cuts http://www 

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  • penny_g's Profile Photo

    Re: Moscow - visa and travel questions

    by penny_g Online Now Mar 24, 2013 at 4:55 PM

    Thanks to everyone for your input.

    I will allow myself to add some clarifications because I can say that I understood how it is. The thing is that you CAN book a night bus/night train. If you use a tourist agency to get a hotel/tourist voucher, you only need to mention the name of a hotel in the town(s) you plan to visit.It is not necessary to present a proof of the booking to your agency (neither to the embassy or the consular services). Therefore, a night bus or train is quite ok for a foreign tourist. Not to mention that if it wasn't people wouldn't have been allowed and able to make the Trans-Siberian rail.

    In a nutshell, I can recommend to anyone considering travelling to Russia to use a tourist agency to get the voucher and go themselves to the embassy.

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