We are starting to take a closer look at visa requirements for the trip. I’ve looked at various websites and have received conflicting information. I’ve been communicating with a visa service agency and this is the information that I’ve received (in relation to UK citizens).
We’ll need a six-month multi-entry business visa, as tourist visas don’t permit three entries that are necessary due to our route. Despite being called a business visa, they can be obtained for tourist use.
There is no requirement to have visited Russia previously in order to get a business visa (contrary to what I have read elsewhere).
There is no requirement for a letter from an employer (although self-employed persons may have to prove they have the financial means to support themselves).
A Letter of Invitation (LOI) is required before the visa can be applied for – LOIs can be purchased online or through the agency but cannot be requested until 45 days before commencement of the visa.
The multi-entry visa only allows you to stay in Russia for a total of 180 days a year, and no longer than 90 consecutive days within a 180 day period.
The Russian visa is by far the most expensive. Using the agency, the cheapest price for the LOI is £145 (increases to £240 for fastest service) and the cheapest price for the visa is £252 (increase to £385 for fastest service).
A 30-day tourist visa seems to be a simple application process. The Mongolian Embassy in UK provides two service options – next day and one week. Getting this visa should be an easy process.
The Kazakhstan Embassy in UK has one type of service – it takes one week
The visa also appears to be one of the least expensive – £85.00 per passport (including £ 50.00 consular fees and £35.00 service fees) for a double entry visa.
In addition to a passport, photo and application form, they also require a hotel booking confirmation issued by a Kazakhstan authorised tour operator, or a Kazakhstan hotel, which is approved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, showing the two stays in Kazakhstan. This should cover all of the days you need your visa valid for. I’m told that an Expedia online reservation will suffice.
A 30-day single entry tourist visa will suffice. However, it appears that the visas cannot be obtained earlier than 90 days prior to the commencement of the visa. I am still awaiting confirmation on this.
If we can’t get a visa in advance, we can apply for it as soon as we get to Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan) and spend a couple of days in the area until it is issued.
In the meantime, my passport has been sent in for renewal.