Between you my fellow Pinoy backpacker and fulfilling that Trans-Siberian dream is a Russia tourist visa on a fierce stance with a heart attack-inducing price tag. You think of raising the white flag without even putting up a fight, but deep down you know those images of rustic Siberian houses hugging the Trans-Siberian railway will continue to haunt you if you don’t give it a try.
Victory ain’t far-fetched if you got the right ammunition. And in this case, you actually don’t need a lot.
Russia tourist visa application requirements:
1. Original passport (and a photocopy of the bio-data page on A4 paper), valid for at least six months. Must also have at least two blank pages.
2. Filled out visa application form (printed on A4 paper), two copies.
3. Two passport size photos (with white background).
4. Tourist visa invitation.
This may be the shortest list of visa requirements I’ve encountered to date, but it demanded a great deal of planning… Which by the way I now have a profound repugnance for.
The first three are clearly no sweat items. The last one, however, can test your patience. But hey, at least patience is easier to work on than say, a hundred-thousand peso average daily balance in your bank account (*cough*China visa*cough*).
View Larger Map. Embassy of Russian Federation
Visitors joining a group tour just hafta sit pretty since the visa processing is included in the package. For indie backpackers, the Russia tourist visa invitation can be obtained through an accredited travel agency in the Philippines. And this means you pay not only for the visa fee but also for the agency’s legwork.
Now if you got heaps of time in your hands and not a lot of dibs in your pocket, one way to get around this is to book a hotel in Russia (that provides a tourist visa invitation) yourself. Keep in mind that the travel period indicated on the visa invitation is the exact date range that will be marked on your visa. The hotel will charge you for the service, but it should be cheaper than a travel agency’s fee. Whether or not you push on with the booking or cancel it once your visa’s approved, that’s up to your fickle mind and anorexic wallet.
The Embassy of Russian Federation accepts applications Monday, Wednesday and Friday. 9:00 AM to 12:00 noon. Processing takes 4-10 days and the fee depends on how soon you need it. I paid more than $200 for mine to be granted in two days.
You see, because of a typhoon that turned Metro Manila into waterworld, we failed to apply at an earlier date. We went to the embassy Monday morning at around quarter to nine. Accommodated and assisted by the lone guard. We were number eight on the list. All of those that came before us are agency reps.
The Russian consul arrived at eleven. Our turn came past one in the afternoon, the hubby represented all of us. He explained our predicament. To our awe, the consul advised us to come back on Wednesday so he could endorse us to their other office in Dasmarinas Village where the visa processing actually takes place (they used to entertain applicants here too until the opening of the satellite office).
Once approved, standard protocol requires applicants to come back and claim their passports from 11:00 AM to 12 noon on the consul’s specified date. And payment should have been made via UCPB bank deposit. Present the deposit slip to the consul upon claiming.
The Embassy of Russian Federation
RCI Building, 4th floor
105 Rada Street
Legazpi Village, Makati City
How to get there: Nearest bus stops along Ayala Ave. are in front Makati Stock Exchange Building and across Insular Life.