All foreigners are required to obtain visas to enter Russia. If you travel alone, the cheapest option (saves you $30) is to obtain a "business visa" using an official invitation from IKI. This takes about 45 days. The ESA representatives can obtain an official invitation for a "business visa" from the ESA Office in Moscow. If you travel with family members or need faster processing, you should obtain a "tourist visa".
Most people travel to Russia on tourist visas. The application package shoud have an invitation from a Russian-affiliated travel agency. This industry is well-developed, and web sites of Russian consulates have lists of recommended agencies. If you are not inclined to shop around, here are the results of our quick research:
www.visatorussia.com can fax you an invitation package next business day for $30. You then use this package to apply at a consulate. Consulates can be located on Google or on www.russianembassy.net. At least in the US, applications can be sent to the Consulate by mail. Visa is issued in 10 days or so. The consular fee in the US is $100 plus postage.
Some hotel reservations services in Moscow send invitations free of extra charge. Please refer to our hotel page. If you live in the US, www.russia-travel.com can both issue invitations and obtain visas at the consulate for $150 plus postage (this includes $100 consular fee).
For other options do a Google search on "russian visa service".
Note that you need a separate visa for each family member. Exceptions are children under 16 who are included in your passport (i.e. do not have their own passports). Passports must be valid for at least 6 months beyond your departure date. Please make sure that you specify "tourism" as the purpose of your trip when you cross the border.
Business visa (through IKI)
If you travel alone, IKI can generate an invitation for "business visa". This takes about 45 days. To garantee succesfull preparation of invitation we should have all information from you no later than April 21. You then fill out the application at the nearest consular office. The visa is issued in approximately 10 days; you have to pay only the consular fee (which is $100 in the US).
Unfortunately, if you travel with the family members, we cannot generate the business visa invitations for bureaucratic reasons. The only option in this case is to obtain a tourist visa, see above.
If business visa is your preferred option, please fill out the following questionnaire and e-mail it to
Business visa (through the ESA Office in Moscow)
If you are a representative of ESA or one of the ESA institutions (e.g. ESTEC) you can get visa support as well as assistance in getting accomodation through the ESA Office in Moscow. Please send your requests to Yuliya Kovaleva by e-mail: or phones: +7-495-783-0950 or +7-495-928-7529.