There are a number of questions about changing or extending the Russian visa that are raised repeatedly by many people traveling to Russia. So I’ve tried to put together the most common ones in this article: Is it possible to change the itinerary? Can I visit other cities not indicated in my visa application? Can I change my hotels? Can I extend or renew my visa? etc.
I'm going to talk about ...
1. MODIFYING YOUR ITINERARY in Russia
Can I modify or change my itinerary after I have obtained a Russian visa?
Of course you can. Once you have obtained the Russian visa, you can move freely through Russia within the period stated in your visa, except in those areas where access is limited and to which you surely have no plans to travel, such as border areas in armed conflict or military zones.
Can I visit other cities not indicated in my visa application or in my invitation?
Of course. The visa does not specify which cities you can visit, so once you’ve obtained the visa, you can move freely within Russia.
This means that if in the visa application you indicated Moscow and St. Petersburg, and you later decide to travel to any other city not in your plan, such as Sergei Posad, Suzdal or Kazan, you can do so without any problem.
Similarly, there is no problem if you stated Moscow and St. Petersburg and finally you decide to visit Moscow only.
Can I enter or leave Russia by any means of transport?
Yes. Once you have obtained the visa, you can enter or leave Russia using the means of transport you prefer: plane, train, bus, car, motorcycle, bicycle, scooter, on foot, etc. Of course, you must enter and leave Russia within the validity period of your visa, regardless of the means of transport you may use.
You should also take into account that if you travel in your private vehicle (car or motorcycle) you must carry all the technical documentation and vehicle insurance providing coverage in Russia. In some cases (for example, if you travel in a motor home), you must apply for an auto tourism visa.
2. Staying in DIFFERENT HOTELS OR APARTMENTS
Can I stay in other hotels once I’ve obtained a Russian visa?
You can change the hotels that you indicated in the invitation for other hotels. No problem.
- If you included random hotels, once you have obtained the visa you can book the hotels you want.
- If you already had hotels booked, you can cancel them and book others that you like more or that are cheaper. Keep in mind that today, hotel reservation platforms, such as Booking, allow you to cancel most hotel reservations without charge up until the day before your arrival.
Can I stay in apartments our private homes once I’ve obtained the visa?
Yes, in fact you can stay where you want: Airbnb apartments, private apartments of friends or family, etc. The only thing you should keep in mind is that you will need to register your stay if you are in Russia for more than 7 business days.
3. VALIDITY PERIOD of my visa
Do I have to enter and leave Russia on the exact dates indicated in my visa?
If you have been issued a visa for August 1 -10, this does not mean that you must arrive in Russia on August 1 and leave on August 10.
On the contrary, you can enter and leave Russia within the period stated in your visa. For example, you can enter Russia on August 3 and leave on August 8. What you cannot do is enter Russia before August 1 (on July 31, for example) or leave later than August 10.
Can I apply for a visa for longer than I plan to stay?
Yes, in fact it is something that I’ve done many times in case something unexpected happens.
If you are going to apply for a Russian visa and you do not know the exact dates of your trip, it is a good idea to apply for the visa (and the invitation letter or visa support) for longer than you plan to stay. For example, if you estimate that your trip will be from August 1 to August 10, you can apply for a visa from July 30 to August 12 so you cover possible unforeseen events, such as missing your flight or a flight delay.
Can I renew, extend or lengthen the validity period of my visa?
Unfortunately it is not possible to renew a Russian visa, except in very exceptional circumstances: if you need immediate medical treatment or in case of the death of a close relative or in cases of emergency due to a disaster or attack.
Can I get a new visa without leaving Russia?
It is not possible to obtain a new visa without leaving Russia. This is because the visa is processed through Russian consulates or visa centers in foreign countries.
It is also not a good idea to send your passport from Russia to your country by courier (FedEx, UPS …) for the visa center or a private agency to do the paperwork and send you the passport once the visa has been processed. The problem with this option, apart from the time it may take, is that your new visa will not be valid, since you have not crossed the border with this visa and you will not have the entry stamp on it.
Therefore, the only option is to leave Russia before your visa expires, return to your country and apply for a new Russian visa through the Russian Consulate or visa center.