Hurrah! We finally received our Russian visa’s in Istanbul today. The whole process was a decidedly Russian affair - lots of “nyet”'s, plenty of ‘this is impossible’ and the obligatory ‘it is forbidden’. The administration girl played a whole "good cop, bad cop” routine with some conflicting information, but it all worked out in the end.
Click 'read more' to find out the essential details for applying for a Russian visa while in Istanbul...
Where to apply
You don’t need to go to the Russian Consulate - rather, apply from their special visa office, about 10 minutes walk north from Taksim Square.
You’ll need to make an appointment using their website the day before, and bring your documents with you
What you need
The invitation letter was a story in itself for us. We used realrussia.co.uk who issued one very quickly (seriously - these guys have the most amazing customer service ever). We were rejected on our first appointment as we only printed off the letter of invitation (Real Russia are based in the UK) - but we needed the original with the original stamp. Luckily for us, a friend was visiting from London, but leaving in a few hours time. While I was organising a reissue of the invitation letter through realrussia.co.uk, Emma was organising a bike courier to have it delivered to our friend, before he left for the airport. Later that evening we had our original invitation letters (with stamps) in our hands. Viva la technology!
What you don’t need
As of January 2015, if you apply from some countries, such as the UK, you’ll need to supply fingerprints too. What you need obviously changes regularly, so check for updated visa information. Theoretically the Visa office was set up to help people apply for their visas. But they won’t answer emails and the phone number is just an information line.
How much does it cost
This information is something the Visa Office can’t tell you, and we had a small chuckle when we asked how we were meant to pay an amount we weren’t allowed to know. For the sake of information sensitivity, you’ll get some change from USD$100 per person, for an Australian passport holder.
How long it takes
Ours was ready in 8 working days - a bit quicker than we expected. You won’t have your passport, so perhaps keep a photocopy with you and the receipt from the Russian visa office, just incase it’s needed for something (such as checking into accommodation).
This website has all the information you need:
With passports in hand, we jumped on the next bus to Ankara, ready to apply for our Mongolian visas. Wish us luck!
EMMA & PETE
We're just two Aussie's who met in London, married in Prague and travelled overland back to Australia.