A complete guide from Sebastiaan on how to apply for a Russian tourist visa in Tbilisi, Georgia. Includes information on necessary documents, where to get the Russian visa, and how much Russian visas cost.
Getting a Russian visa while on the road can be tricky. Usually you can only apply for a Russian visa in your home country or country of residence.
However, if you’re among the many nationalities who can go to Georgia visa-free for one year, you can apply for a Russian tourist visa in Tbilisi, Georgia. Here’s how.
How to get a Russian tourist visa in Georgia
What documents do you need to apply for a Russian visa?
Before you can apply for a Russian tourist visa in Tbilisi, you need several documents:
- Letter of invitation
- Filled out application form
- Copy of information page of passport
- Passport photo (3.5 x 4.5 cm)
- Proof of medical insurance in English. Must state that it’s valid for Russia.
You also need to make an appointment with the Russian Visa Center in Tbilisi. You can make an appointment on their website here.. Do this a week in advance, as they’re often fully booked. Note that you pay for the visa service when you book an appointment and you need to have a Georgian phone number. The visa service costs 84 GEL.
Note: It’s technically possible to go to the Russian consular section at the Swiss embassy. However, I’ve been told they make it virtually impossible to apply for your visa there. The Visa Center charges a fee, but at least things go smoothly and you won’t be turned away.
How to get a letter of invitation (LOI) for Russia
There are several companies that can help you with a letter of invitation to Russia.
The most well-known and professional of these companies is Real Russia. You can apply for an LOI on their website. The invitation letter costs around US$20, and is usually sent to you in a matter of minutes.
Filling out the online application form for a Russian tourist visa
After you have your letter of invitation, fill out the online application form here.
The form mostly consists of standard visa application questions. You need your LOI provider’s information, so make sure to apply for an LOI before filling out the online application form. Once done with the form, save it to your computer and print it out.
Applying for a Russian tourist visa at the Visa Application Center in Tbilisi, Georgia
Once you have all the documents, head to the center on your appointed date. The address of the center is Besiki Business Center, Office #205, Second floor, 4 Besiki Street. More contact details for the Visa Center here.
It’s a side street of Rustaveli Avenue, roughly halfway between Rustaveli and Liberty Square metro stations.
Not everyone speaks English inside, but the lady who helped me did. She checks all your documents, possibly asking you a few more questions. If everything is in order, the whole process takes about 15-20 minutes.
You pay the visa fee by credit card at the application center. The visa fee for most European citizens is 115 GEL. Double check the website to see how much your visa will cost.
How long does it take to get a Russian tourist visa in Tbilisi?
Unfortunately, the Center workers are just middlemen; the can’t tell you when your visa will be ready. In my case, it took 10 business days for the application to be approved. I got an email saying my visa was ready and could be picked up in the same building, room #104. Bring your receipt when you pick up your visa.
As you can see, though manageable, the process takes a decent amount of time. If you need some inspiration on what to do in Tbilisi in the meantime, check out this guide to Tbilisi on a budget, and don’t forget to check out this guide to travel in Georgia with everything you need to know, too.