Visas – an expensive and time-consuming necessity for a trip to Moscow
Wednesday 09 January 2013
Q. On a whim I booked two cheap flights to Moscow in June for me and my 11-year-old daughter. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but since booking I have looked into obtaining visas and it seems like a minefield of red tape. Can you help? Matt Denby, West Yorkshire
A. You are two of the first people to take advantage of the Russian capital joining the no-frills network from Britain, with easyJet flying in the spring from Gatwick and Manchester to the city's best airport, Domodedovo.
After decades when it has been difficult or impossible to find a flight below £200 return, there are at last tickets at less than £100. (Usual rules for finding these apply: book well ahead, and avoid Friday/Sunday/school holiday peaks.)
Moscow is the largest city in the biggest country in the world. With eight million inhabitants, it tops anything in Western Europe, including London. The attractions, too, are immense: stand in the middle of the vast Red Square, and the domes of St Basil's Cathedral, the walls of the Kremlin, the Lenin Mausoleum and the nation's foremost shopping venue – GUM – stretch beyond your field of vision. That is just the start of the repertoire of fascination that awaits you. But before you reach the fine art, grandiose architecture and gastronomic adventures, you need to jump through some bureaucratic hoops.
Obtaining a visa is an expensive and time-consuming business that has not changed dramatically since Soviet days. First, you need to get your ground arrangements sorted out – which for your trip presumably means just booking a hotel. But don't imagine that an email by way of confirming your plans will suffice: you need an officially stamped and signed "tourist voucher/confirmation" from the "inviting organisation" – usually, the hotel.
Having acquired this precious document, you can start applying for a visa through the outsourced visa provider, ru.vfsglobal.co.uk. The normal tourist price is £27.60 per person, and you need to allow plenty of time for the process.
A daunting process, and one that you might want to place in the hands of a long-established expert, such as Regent Holidays (regentholidays.co.uk), to guide you through the bureaucracy.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 2 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 3 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 4 The top 50 cities for young people to live in
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
£24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...
£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£28 - 45k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Accountant is needed to take control of the ...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This hotel in Chadderton is a p...