Ironic: Russia Raises Visa Fees For American Tourists

Filed Under: Travel

I visited Russia last summer and had a lovely time in both St. Petersburg and Moscow. Before visiting I was surprised by how pricey visas were. In the end I managed to get a multiple entry visa valid for three years for $193, with the help of Allied Passport. That’s not too horrible, assuming I visit Russia again in the coming years.

Moscow - 3
Moscow, Russia

Well, you’d think relations between the U.S. and Russia are improving as of this week, though it looks like Russia has just raised the cost of visas for Americans visiting, at least for the most common type of visa they issued.

Here’s a comparison of the the pricing (with the old pricing on the top, and the new pricing on the bottom), per Allied Passport:



So, what’s changing? Previously you could get a multiple entry visa valid for three years for $193. Now:

  • Single entry visas cost $123
  • Double entry visas cost $177
  • Multiple entry visas cost $303

So the cost of a single entry visa is decreasing by ~$70, the cost of a double entry visa is decreasing by $16, and the previously best value multiple entry visa is increasing in cost by $110, which is the most significant change.

You can find the official visa fees listed on the Russian Embassy’s website, though you’ll see that they don’t include the $33 visa center service fee (so I’m not sure why they don’t just include that in the price, since there’s no way to avoid it).

This is all pretty ironic, if you ask me. Yes, some visa fees are going down, but the most popular type of visa that people were being issued is increasing by $110. If relations between the U.S. and Russia are to improve, you’d think they wouldn’t increase the cost for Americans to visit right away.

Interesting times…

St-Petersburg-Russia - 1
St. Petersburg, Russia

If you do need help with a Russian visa, I recommend using Allied Passport. You can receive a $5 discount by writing a note on your order form indicating that you were referred by One Mile at a Time. In the interest of full disclosure, I receive a small referral bonus if you use them as well. They’re fantastic people, and I think their online reviews speak for themselves.

  1. Well, please do an article on how much US Passport fees increased from when the creature, Barack Obama, took office to the point when he left. I meant, to the point when IT left.

  2. I do go to Russia every couple of years and although my spouse is Russian I still need a visa since I am no citizen. I apply in Dubai through an agent (since I work and live in Dubai) and including the agents fee a single visa costs 700 Dirhams (which is approx 190 USD. So I guess in the end American or not American visas are expensive and I agree it’s not a clever strategy as tourism in such times is a very important and vital industry and costly visas don’t help.

  3. What the hell is Melissa on about? Why the venom?

    I think the change in fees makes a lot of sense. It is lowered for those who probably are visitors. Anyone who needs a multiple entry visa probably is there for work … and the business pays for it.

  4. Deplorables don’t need therapy, just more walls.

    Moreover, therapy requires at least a very basic level of intellect. Ever tried reasoning with your dog?

  5. Don’t know why this is viewed as bad news, most of us will either travel there once (and save money) or travel for business and can afford to pay more. This is good, now it reflects lower cost for less use and higher cost for higher use.

  6. I’m curious, was $193 and including fees from an agency.? I did it myself at the Russian Consulate in NYC this past fall and the total was $160 for the multi-entry 3 year visa (plus one hell of a process).

    So do these new prices affect the price of a visa if you do not go through the Embassy (Such as using the Consulate)?

  7. I think that your frequent secondary security checks have a lot to do with your travels to Russia and Turkey.

  8. What you say about no way to avoid the visa centre fee is incorrect. You can apply directly to the consulate and avoid that $33 charge. Whether it is worth using it — just like whether it’s worth using that service you speak of — is another matter. Please correct the post accordingly.

  9. I would guess they are going up in price precisely because US/Russian relations are perceived to be going better, thereby increasing demand.

    (I can only imagine Melissa is fake and trolling)

  10. I don’t see what the big deal is. You can get a 2% cash back Visa from Citibank with no annual fee at all.Just use that in Russia and you’re good to go.

  11. Two comments.

    How much did U.S. Passport fees increase from 2009 to 2016? I renewed mine in 2015 and didn’t think the cost was inordinate.

    I wonder how much visa fees for U.S. passport holders will go up in the next few years around the world. I currently pay $20 AUD for an electronic visa good for one year. I also wonder if some countries will charge entry fees when entering with a U.S. passport. The America First approach will have fallout around the world.

  12. In Latin America for a while now these have been referred to as the visa wars. Apparently the US at one point raised its application fee for a visa to $100. That was considered then to be a huge amount, especially since so many people are turned down (often repeatedly) for a US visa. Soon after Brazil raised its visa application fees, even for short stays and multiple crossings around Iguazu Falls. As often happens, before long, there were increases all around. And, just like museum fees, they were sometimes raised for those considered to be haves by those who considered themselves have-nots.
    I believe — I’m not sure — that cruise ship passengers coming in to St. Petersburg short-term get a special discounted one-trip visa, limited-time visit permitted.

  13. The 2018 FIFA World Cup and 2017 Confederations Cup will be held in Russia, so I’m sure they’re expecting an influx of foreign tourists for the tournaments.

  14. I am surprised, since with this move Russia will be deviating from the reciprocity principle. All I can see, the US is still charging $160 to Russians for a (single entry) visa, and $190 for a business visa. This means that the old Russian fees were a reaction to the US fees (point in case: the visa fees Russia charges to Germans are 35 EUR (plus 27 EUR processing fee), the same that Germany charges to Russia).

    Since most non-business people will enter Russia only once, Russia has de facto decreased the price for most US visitors.

    And, as a rule of thumb US visas are amongst the most expensive on the planet, in my experience. The reason is that the US effectively thinks that they’re doing others a favor by letting them in, and so even people on the visa waiver program are charged fees that go to programs supposed to advertise the US in their countries…

  15. At least you can use visa services. You don’t have to queue up on foot path in front of the embassy, with no belonging except keys, a cellphone and a wallet, to wait for your queue which you are asked to arrive 30 minutes before appointment time by yourself.

  16. Brilliant. They charge more for the most popular one. Sounds like sound pricing policy.
    And in the end americans can pay anyway with one of their many great credit cards so you’ll end up with even more miles under your butt.
    Russia First !!

  17. I am not at all sure that the 3yr visa is the most popular among “casual” travelers. I visited Moscow in 2009 and it never even occurred to me to apply for a visa that was valid beyond the duration of my travel there. Viewed that way, I believe this is a positive (lower the cost for a “casual” traveler) rather than a negative, quite likely in anticipation of more “casual” visitors to the Russian Federation as a results of the US election. In short, Putin just sent a subtle message to “casual” US travelers that Moscow welcomes them!

  18. So much for the “best dual citizenship combo” of US and German passport. If you had a passport from HK or something you’d actually get visa-free access to Russia.

    Looks like the US-German dual citizenship isn’t all that great when they have so many overlapping countries.

  19. From the perspective of an ordinary tourist Russia has lowered their fees as most of us would use a single entry tourist visa.Before this change a Russian tourist to the US paid the same as a US tourist to Russia.$160.
    Now the US citizen pays $123 and the Russian still $160.
    As said before no extra fee if you apply yourself to the Russian Embassy.

  20. Thanks for the information all. I would love to visit Russian but as an American, I have chosen to boycott anything Russian. It has been clearly documented that Russia interferred with the American election, a major hallmark of our democracy. This together with their human rights records especially towards women and the LGBTQ community are grounds for not supporting anything Russian. There are many examples of how they have treated their people and anti-Russian expats and we need to send a clear message to Putin that any interference especially hacking is not acceptable.

  21. Mellissa you are IT …
    A conned-serivative, sorry to say…..
    Been to St. Petersburg, known then as Leningrad , Petridrivits and Moscow, both before and after the dissolution .
    Even ‘experienced’ a softig ho entice a Germán businessman, russian style a la Putin’s my hotel, if it was Tuesday it must be green beans,.everywhere !
    Other than the Hermitage, which also possessed ‘borrowed’ artwork, I have no desire to return. It was an adventure when I was younger, now u prefer to look at my polaroids…LOL

  22. To that ‘Melissa’ monster, here’s a post from 2007 about Russian visas and cost:
    $100 for 6-10 business days processing;
    $150 for 3-5 business days processing;
    $200 for next business day processing or two business days processing;
    $300 for same day processing;
    Fast forward to before Twittler took over, prices were fairly steady. Now Russian puppet takes over, costs goes up. So ‘Melissa’ dear, what’s your complaint again?

  23. Is this just a puff piece and a advertisement for Allied ?

    What is new about tourist being shook down for cash by a government ?

    Ask the rest of the world about US tipping policy and our domestic hotel/travel fees.
    The U.S. has gouged visitors better than anyone and been doing it for ages.

  24. Geeez Lucky,

    I’ll start by saying I used to really love your blog. An airline geek talking about his travel adventures. Great !!! As you gained popularity, your blog turned more and more into a business. Ok, whatever.; I remained interested that you could turn your geeky passion into a career, though I restricted myself to reading posts that I truly thought was of interest to me. And I no longer looked forward every day to learn about your travel adventures. My visits to your blog have decreased from daily to maybe twice a week. My decision.

    Your “click-n-bait” title snared me. I visited the Russia Federation as a TOURIST in 2009 and thought I may return someday to dig into the country a little deeper.
    Thus your title ….
    Russia Raises Visa Fees For American Tourists
    … snared me into clicking the link.

    Only to learn that for most Russia Federation Visa’s, the fee is actually DECREASING.
    The only visa fee increasing is the “multi entry” visa (as per your post, I haven’t checked your facts as I do trust you). Please note that (particularly for a country as the Russia Federation) most TOURISTs (as mentioned in your title) are NOT interested in multiple entry Visa’s. I enjoyed my 2009 visit and would hope that tourism between USA and Russia Federation could improve to the point that American “tourists” would like to visit multiple times within a “multiple entry visa’s expiration time frame, but I highly suspect that for most USA tourist, we’re nowhere close to that yet. Most USA citizens desiring multiple entry visas most likely have a BUSINESS entry reason for the travel.

    Please write your titles towards the truth and not as “click bait”.
    IE: “Russia Raises Visa Fees For American’s Desiring Multiple Visits”
    That’s the truth. It is of no interest to most American “tourists” as your title implies.

  25. @ Leonardo

    Maybe you are unaware the US has been interfering in elections all around the world since WWII. Maybe it never got exposed in your local newspapers. Worse, where the meddling did not give the desired impact you guys went in dropping bombs.
    I have no doubt Russia may have been a bit naughty recently but if is nothing compared to what you guys are doing.

  26. There was a time when Russia didn’t issue multiple entry tourist visas at all to Americans! The fact they started it back in 2013 (or 2014?) was awesome especially for those who travel as a tourist there often. Back in 2011, when I first visited Russia, the only type available was single-entry tourist visa.

  27. Where and why did you think that US and Russia relations were improving? Russia like China, Cuba, etc. are and have always been Communist countries.
    They do not obey international laws. Russia has taken over Ukraine, an independent country. Ukraine, Georgia, parts of Moldova, etc. we’re just given to Communist Russia because we in the US had a weak, feckless President. Putin correctly tagged
    Obama very early in his Presidency.
    Travel bloggers with their first world problems have no understanding how the economy works. Paying ridiculous prices for hotels in Moscow or for food in Cuba is just nuts, not knowing that the residents living in these countries could not or would not pay these prices. All that extra money goes into the hands of their leaders who have murdered dissident opposition leaders and live a capitalistic life. Travel 50 km outside of Moscow or St. Pete and people are living like in the Middle Ages.

  28. @KVT

    I believe those fans going to the Confederations Cup and/or the World Cup (for sure) will be able to enter the country Visa-Free.

    I don’t know if you need to be holding a ticket when you enter or if it will be open to everyone (my understanding).

    This is why I’m planning a visit to Russia summer 2018. It will be nice to be there a few days, catch a game and sightsee without applying for a visa.

  29. Oh, and now do you understand why the Visa fees are increasing? It’s all about the money.
    Google: Litvinenko, Mikhail Y. Lesin, Aleksandr Poteyev, Sergei L. Magnitsky,
    Alexander Perepilichny, etc. and some were murdered in the USA.
    Having a first world problem such as having to sit in business class because ” I just couldn’t get into First Class” is a telling tale of how American life is today.

  30. Melissa – get a grip, my goodness. If you feel the need to blame someone, you need to go back to G W Bush. After 9-11, US dramatically raised visa fees to visitors coming to USA. Many countries responded in kind, some with over the top fees due to disagreement with Bush foreign policy. This in a fact. Not an alternative fact.

  31. @Jim Walden

    You talk nonsense here given the fact your country certainly does not obey international laws. You eg have not signed several treaties, do not recognize the International Court in the Hague and have in fact been terrorizing the rest of the world with your local laws like eg FATCA. You also seem to live under the impression that your FBI and CIA have jurisdiction withing and outside your borders.
    Where or not you like communists is up to you but please use some more intelligent arguments that go beyond ‘we are so fucking good that anyone else must be bad’.

  32. I had a really negative reaction to Melissa’s comment.

    On July 13, 2010, the application fee was raised from $75 to $110. The $25 processing fee and $60 expedited application fee was not changed. The $75 fee was in effect in 2005.

    Since 2010, there have been no changes in fees.

    I hope I never see another post from her/him/it.

  33. Not a great headline. For many I suspect a decrease, as you note. Only if you plan on entering multiple times (more than 2 in a given period of time) does this matter.

  34. Why has the post not been corrected yet to remove a passage about not being able to avoid the service centre fee? It can absolutely be avoided by applying directly to the consulate.

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