Last Updated on April 20, 2020 by Irena Domingo
A very frequent question when it comes to getting an invitation to Russia is if I need the original or if a hard copy is enough. It depends: some consulates only require a hard copy while others request the original. In this article I explain how to know in which countries a copy is sufficient and in which countries the original invitation is necessary. I also explain how to request the original invitation to be sent by courier, if necessary.
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1. Original invitation or hard copy to get a Russian visa?
A color printout of the invitation is sufficient for most Consulates worldwide: USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, India, South Korea, Japan, Spain, France, Germany, Italy and the rest of European countries, etc.
However, it’s possible that some countries may require the original invitation, especially in some countries, called migration risk countries by the Russian authorities. Thus, the original invitation is required to obtain a visa in all consulates of China (except the Consulate of Hong Kong and Macau that only require a hard copy), in most African countries (Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia, etc.) and in many Asian countries (such as Bangladesh or Pakistan).
Each consulate has its own rules, even in the same country with several consulates, the rules may be different in each of them. In addition, some consulates that today require original invitation, tomorrow may request only one copy, or vice versa. In short, the rules of the consulates are changing.
In this article I explain how to know if you will need an original invitation or just a copy, according to your nationality and according to the consulate where you are going to apply for a Russian visa. In case you need the original invitation, I also explain how to order delivery by courier to anywhere in the world.
A previous warning: the invitation can receive different names according to the consulate: “invitation letter”, “visa support”, “tourist voucher”, “tourist confirmation”, “confirmation of hosting a foreign tourist”, “visa voucher”, “certificate of reception for foreign tourists”, etc. All these denominations refer to the same document, which in a short way is called “invitation” or “tourist invitation”.
2. Countries that have consulates and Russian visa centers
In those countries where the demand for visas is higher, there are so-called visa centers, managed by private companies subcontracted by the Consulate (Russia Visa Centre, VFS Global, Interlink, VHS, etc,). In this case, to know if the original invitation is necessary or not, you must enter the website of the Russian visa center.
To know if there is a visa center in your country, you only have to consult his article: Russian Embassies, Consulates and Visa Centers in the world.
For example, this is the link of the Russian visa center in the USA: https://russia-visacentre.com/en/visa/usa/russia. Once on the website, you must click on “Tourist Visa” and then “Documents required”. As you can see in the screenshot below, at the Russia visa center, it is enough to present a copy of the invitation (also called visa support):
Another example could be the Russian visa center in China, which is accessed through this link: https://www.russiavisa.cn/en/. As you can see in the screenshots below, the original invitation is required in China:
2. Countries that have a Russian Consulate, but not a visa center
In those countries where there is no Russian visa center, you must consult the website of the Russian Embassy or consulate of the city where you are going to apply for a Russian visa. In this link you have a list of all Russian embassies and consulates in the world: Russian Embassies, Consulates and Visa Centers – Updated list
For example, in the Russian Consulate of Algeria in Algiers, the original document is required:
On the other hand, at the Russian Consulate in Sri Lanka or at the Russian Consulate in Vietnam, either the original or a good quality copy is required (it is important to use a good high resolution print):
In short, it is best to check the official website of the consulate. You can also call the consulate by phone to find out if you need the original, the problem is that the consulate’s telephone lines are usually very busy.
A final note: in some consulates it may not be clearly specified if the original or a copy of the visa support is necessary. In this case, the most common is that a copy is sufficient, but this must be confirmed at the consulate.
3. How to order a delivery of visa support document by courier?
The consulate may ask you to provide the original invitation or visa support with signature and seal of the host organization. In this case you can order a delivery of originals by mail (for extra payment).
Once you have purchased the invitation with iVisa, you will receive an email with a link and a code to order the delivery to your address:
Through Goingrus you can also request the sending of the original invitation, once the invitation has been purchased:
I hope this article has been useful to get your invitation to Russia. Thanks for reading me