Getting a Russian Visa in Hong Kong
Applying for visas can be complicated and confusing depending on the countries you plan to visit. Travelling through Asia can make this difficult, especially if you want to plan ahead and get your Russian visa 3 to 4 months ahead of time. After looking at many places to get my Russian Tourist Visa, Hong Kong seemed to be the easiest destination as I did not need to pre-book and provide any accommodation or air tickets beforehand. Cheryl and I have a Singaporean and Australian passport respectively.
Applying for A TOurist Visa, what IS required:
1. Current passport with 6 months remaining validity
2. Online visa application form, filled and printed out
3. One small passport sized photo
4. Original Letter of Invitation (LOI)
5. One copy of your Hong Kong Identification card (HKID) or Hong Kong Visa
6. Insurance policy for entire stay in Russia if you are an EU-Member, Australian or New Zealand (Yes they don’t like Australians very much read on to see why).
Letter of Invitation
Getting your letter of invitation is straight forward. I got my LOI from Way to Russia which is provided by a third party organisation called East West Russia Link Ltd. The cost of a single entry or double entry Letter of Invitation is US $30. When filling out your LOI details, if you don’t already yet know where you will be staying in Russia, just pick from any of the listed hotels on the form.
Confusion with getting your Letter of Invitation
The most trouble I encountered while applying for the Russian visa was that all the embassies listed a compulsory submission of an ‘original copy’ of the Letter of Invitation from a Russian tourist agency. This is not necessarily true, as all you have to do is print off your LOI in colour which was what we did, and were accepted.
Note: There is a ‘Fotomax’ shop on the 1st floor of Sun Hung arcade near the escalators, where the Russian embassy is located. Here they will do prints in colour. To get the original LOI sent out would cost you US $90 express from Russia, so save yourself the money.
Being an Australian, I had my insurance with World Nomads which gave me worldwide coverage for a year. Just attach a printed copy of your insurance policy in your submission.
Russian Embassy in Hong Kong
The Russian embassy is located at 2106 Sun Hung Kei Centre Shopping Arcade; 30 Harbour Road, Wan Chai. It is between the MTR station of Wan Chai and Causeway Bay station. Walking takes approximately 10 minutes from either stops. The Russian embassy is located on the 21st floor.
Application Cost and Submission Times
Application times are between 09:00 to 12:00 Monday to Friday. Cost for your visa depends on the country you apply from. A Singaporean application costs HKD $400 (AUD $66) and Australian application is HKD $450 (AUD $75). Passport collection times are also between 09:00 to 12:00 Monday to Friday.
For Singaporean passport holders: When we handed in the Russian application, we were told it was going to take 5 business days (not including the date of submission).
For Australian passport holders: Confident that it would also take 5 days (aren’t we all equal?), I handed my application in. The Russian consulate initially told me that my application would take 6 days, which would have been perfect before we left for Kathmandu, Nepal. He had another look at my application, paused, and went to the back room, before returning to ask me if I had my HKID card. To which I did not have as I wasn’t a resident of Hong Kong.
He then told me it would take 10 business days to complete my application because I did not have a HKID and arrived on a Tourist Visa. I asked whether there was an option to pay more for express service (not a bribe). Nyet. Not possible. Straight face. Nowhere on the website was this mentioned and there was no information on Australians getting their Visa in Hong Kong.
As our stay in Hong Kong was booked for 14 days (I planned around 6 days for the Russian visa and little more just in case this scenario happened), I had to either extend my flight or not apply. In the end I applied, but due to the excessive cost of changing flights and accommodation for a longer stay, I decided to withdraw my application (you don’t get a refund on your application either) and try somewhere else along the way.
Hopefully I’ll have a bit more luck getting my visa in Nepal, before we start our EBC trek.
– Simply print off your LOI in colour, getting an original copy sent out will be a waste of money.
– If you are an Australian with a HKID: your application will take 6 days. If you arrive on a Tourist Visa, your application will take 10 days. Singaporean applications will take 5 days.
– Once in Russia you have to register your visa within 7 days working days of arrival, excluding holidays and weekends. This can be done by your accommodation upon check-in. You only need to do this once.
– Carry a copy of your passport with you when you are outside, just in case you are stopped for checks by the police. We personally did not encounter any issues with the police, but have heard stories and seen other tourists randomly stopped for checks on the streets. Carrying a copy will also be useful for buying certain items such as a Russian SIM card, or for buying tickets to attractions sites such as The Hermitage in St. Petersburg.
For more information on visa requirements visit: http://russia.com.hk/en/visa/requirements.
If you have had any similar experiences, drop us a message or comment below!
Disclaimer: This post is 100% based on our personal experience and is in no way sponsored by any of the companies mentioned above.