Passport: All travelers are required to have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after the return date of the trip. You must have your passport before you sign up for this tour. It is the sole responsibility of the traveler to check their passport’s expiration date.
!! Important !! The name you provide on your application must match exactly with the name as it appears on your passport! Exactly! If an airline ticket is issued with an incorrect name, you will not be allowed to board the plane.
Visa: You must also have a Russian visa in order to enter Russia. Obtaining a visa to Russia is an expensive and rather cumbersome process; you will be asked a lot of questions about a lot of seemingly irrelevant things – but you must answer them. The visa must be obtained before you board the plane for Russia (it takes about a month unless you pay hefty “rush” fees); you may not purchase a visa upon arrival in Russia! Please check the website of the Russian Embassy for current information about Russian visas (under “Consular Issues”). The cost is $193 ($160 for the visa fee and $33 for the Service Center fee). The Russian Embassy no longer accepts mail requests for visas – you must go to the Service Centers in Washington DC, New York, San Francisco, or Houston.
However, you can use a service to obtain the visa for you, and this is definitely recommended. Dr. Mai uses a company called ItsEasy Passport & Visa (itseasy.com) which charges $69 (on top of the $193). [He receives no compensation for recommending this company; it’s simply the one that he uses.] The ItsEasy website will walk you through the long visa application process. You will need a single entry, tourist visa.
You will also need a “Letter of Invitation” which can also be provided through the ItsEasy website.
Each tour participant is responsible for obtaining an appropriate visa to enter Russia for the duration of the tour.