If you’re going to visit Russia as a tourist you have to get a visa, and that means going to London to have your finger prints taken and to hand in their ridiculously detailed application form. If in doubt, don’t bother to visit Russia, we are clearly not welcome! But if you ARE determined to go, I have two tips from when I got my visa
1 – They want to know every country you’ve visited, and in my case that’s too many to remember. And if you miss a few, who’s to know? But be careful to list EVERY country you’ve visited that’s listed in your passport. All the ones with stamps in there. Because the one thing they CAN check is that the form agrees with the passport. I forgot to mention Cambodia. Oops! but to be fair, they did allow me to add it to the form there and then.
2 – Your visa photo. Lots of people have had trouble with this! They want one that is less than 6 months old. My photo was the same as my passport – seems reasonable? – but my passport is several years old, so they KNEW the photo was also several years old. So they rejected it, looking rather proud of their cunning logic. I used another one (which may or may not have been even older, I can’t possibly comment!) which they were happy with. Both photos looked almost exactly the same, and exactly like me, as I stood there before them, but no, if it’s the same photo as your passport (the passport you will be using to enter the country on your holiday) they won’t accept it. Any other photo, for example the one my wife used which has totally different hair and which bears almost no resemblance to her: they will accept. Brilliant!
In the Russians’ favour, the queue was only short, and you can take any bag in with you – it’s just like a post office with a waiting area, so although they say rather scarily on the application form that you can’t bring a laptop in, nobody checks your bag and it’s fine if you’ve got one in there – or at least it was when I went. And they take credit cards too, or cash. Although at £100 per person it does feel like a money-making exercise. Don’t go unless you really want to. Italy Ireland and Iceland are all free!
So, I hope that helps you – those are the things I wish I’d known before I went.