St. Petersburg. Russia. Travel to Saint-Petersburg!  
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Saint-Petersburg: Travel tips

See also:
Visa support | VISA Requirement | VISA Types

Hotel prices and itineraries of many tour programs change depending on the season. Peak season is from May to September. Alternatives are to come in spring (1 April-15 May) or fall (1 September-31 October) when prices are lower and the city less crowded. The summer White Nights in St Petersburg are spectacular but, at the same time, summer may be humid and dusty. An Indian summer in the fall is lovely. If you do not mind the cold and snow, the winter season is cheapest and accommodation most readily available. There are some of the events that annually take place in the city in winter season: "Christmas musical meetings in the Northern Palmyra", "Art Square" winter festival, international jazz festivals, sport tournaments, international cinema festivals and theatre first nights.

The first thing a visitor should do is picking up “St. Petersburg: The Official City Guide”, an excellent full-color quarterly freebie, or buy the pocket edition of the Traveler's Yellow Pages. The Friday edition of The St. Petersburg Times and the monthly Pulse are both free and have good listings and reviews. All the hostels can provide everything from invitations and accommodation bookings to theatre tickets, restaurant advice and general help and advice should something go wrong. The City Tourist Information Office at 41, Nevskiy prospect is still near the bottom of a steep learning curve.

You should always have identification. It is advisable to carry photocopies of your passport and visa, showing that they have been registered. Frequent random checks by police are taking place, more usually on men. Besides passport and visa are wanted to change money, and to buy train tickets, book hotel rooms and in numerous other situations.

In St. Petersburg, as in any large city, you should watch out for pickpockets working in public places, such as on crowded public transport (especially at metro electric trains) or in markets and other touristy spots. Keep money and documents in inner pockets, try not to flash big means, don't leave your baggage unsupervised, have an eye on your handbag (it could be cut up insensibly and you will loose your purse). Stand as far as possible from Gypsies, including the children. Don't give them money and the like. You wasn't even notice when all your valuables are disappeared. Walking out late alone in deserted dark areas (courtyards and parks) or after drinking would make you a good target for offenders.

Be warned about persons representing themselves as police and wanting to check your pockets, you may find lack of money after a time. Police is allowed to inspect you only at the police station. In case of stopping you in the street dial (on your mobile phone) the special police number arranged for foreigners and explain the situation. You should obtain the officer's name, badge (ID) number, and patrol car number, and note where it happened.

Verify your change carefully before leaving the cashier or seller.

!! Free option: If your return flight is in the afternoon you can book a suburb tour with us for the morning of the departure day and have airport transfer free of charge!

!!! Free option: If you book a travel package with our company you will get free visa support to obtain a Russian travel visa.

Travel services: VISA Support

See also:
VISA Requirement | VISA Types | Back to: Travel tips

There are three types of visas: tourist, business and visitor.

A tourist visa application can be collected from a travel agent or at a Russian embassy or consulate. Three passport size photos and a photocopy of the information page of your passport are also required. Once confirmation of your the best rates in hotels. Each city you plan to visit must be written on the visa. Once in Russia, you can lengthen your stay or visit additional cities by making arrangements with the service desk at your hotel.

If you are sponsored by a Russian organization, you are entitled to a business visa. Ask the organization to fax you with an invitation and dates of stay. Give this to the Russian embassy or consulate; they will usually issue a business visa without proof of hotel stay. Multi-entry visas are also issued with the proper papers.

If you hosted by a relative or friend, you can enter on a visitor's visa. You must send your host a visa application filled out in duplicate (not a photocopy). The host must then take it to his own travelers' organization, OVIR, which will issue a visitor's invitation for you after several months. The traveler is only allowed to travel to the cities and stay with the persons designated on the visa. You must make these arrangements far in advance.

On arrival, all visitors to Russia must register their visa and passport with Local Visa Office (OVIR). If you are staying in a hotel, the registration desk will do this for you upon checking in. (Your passport and visa may be held for a few hours or days at the hotel registration desk.) If staying elsewhere, you should go directly to OVIR: Visa Registration Department 4 Saltykova-Schedrina Street.

Travel services: VISA Requirement

See also:
VISA Types | Back to: VISA Support | Travel tips

All foreigners traveling to or transiting through Russia must have a passport and visa covering the duration of stay in the country. Visas are issued by Russian Consulates in your home country, based on an invitation (a visa support letter) from a Russian party.

To obtain a Russian visa, you should submit the following papers to a Russian Consulate:

  1. Completed visa application form (one per person) which can be obtained from consulates of Russia.
  2. Original national passport (valid not less than one month after the date of departure from Russia).
  3. Three standard passport-size photographs. Please, sign on the back.
  4. An invitation from the authorized hosting Russian travel agency (for tourist and business visas). The letter of invitation can be arranged through Nota Bena Co.
  5. A Money order or cashiers check payable to the Russian Consulate for visa processing.

Russian visas must be registered in the first 3 bank days after your arrival. This can be done either at your hotel at a small fee (about 1 EUR per person) at check-in procedure or in OVIR offices (the local immigration authorities) with the help of the company that invited tourists. Registration fee in this case is negotiable.

Russian visa is an exit permit as well and if you lose it or overstay your visa's validity, even for one day, or neglect to register your visa, leaving the country may cause problems.

Tourist visas are not subject to prolongation. As for business visas — only your sponsor (organization which has provided your invitation) is allowed to apply for replacement, extension, or changes to your visa.

Important Notes:
  • The visa fee is paid to the Consular service issuing visas in your home country. Its cost varies depending on the country. Please, check with Russian Consulate.
  • Visa processing fee is non-refundable.
  • Any person applying for a visa for a stay of more than three months must present a certificate showing that the individual is HIV-negative.
  • After you receive your visa please check it for possible mistakes (passport number, date of birth, term of validity) and, if necessary, return it to the Consulate for corrections.

Travel services: VISA Types

Back to:
VISA Requirement | VISA Support | Travel tips

A supplementary requisitions for a Tourist visa:

  • A standard tourist confirmation (visa support letter) from the authorized hosting Russian travel agency, registered with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The confirmation must contain the agency's reference number, registration number, official seal and signature of authorized person.

    The invitations must be on letterheads and contain full name of the invited person, his/her date of birth, passport number, period of stay in Russia and cities to be visited. The invitations must be signed by authorized persons and sealed.
  • Original voucher issued by an authorized travel agency (or confirmed hotel reservation), indicating full name of the traveler, date of birth, passport number, dates of entry and departure, name of the hosting Russian tourist company.

Please, notice that tourist visa is valid for not longer than 30 days!

When entering Russia with a tourist visa, you are required also to present at the border checkpoint your tourist confirmation, voucher and a return ticket with a fixed date of departure from Russia. You also will have to prove that you have sufficient funds for your travel. However, this does not apply to cruises and tourist groups!

A supplementary requisitions for a Business visa:

  • A letter of invitation from the Russian Foreign Ministry, its regional representatives, Ministry of Interior or its local offices, or any other authorized Russian Agency. The letter must contain: official seal and legal address of the agency, document registration number, date of registration, signature and name of official authorized to invite foreigners to Russia, travel itinerary, dates of stay, names of persons invited.
  • A cover letter from your company or from yourself if you are traveling individually, with information about the traveler, destinations, terms and purpose of visit.

A supplementary requisitions for a Visitor's visa:

  • Original visa support letter ("Izveschenie") issued by a Local Visa Office (OVIR) in Russia. Applicant's friends or relatives can obtain such invitations.

The invitations must be on letterheads and contain full name of the invited person, his/her date of birth, passport number, period of stay in Russia and cities to be visited. The invitations must be signed by authorized persons and sealed.

"Izveschenie" is valid within one year from the date indicated there.

!!! Free option: If you book a travel package with our company you will get free visa support to obtain a Russian travel visa.

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