Preparing for the Trans-Siberian Railway if you are in Asia
Getting a Russian Visa in Hong Kong for travelling the Trans-Siberian Railway shouldn’t be a problem. With the required documents correctly filled out, and assuming that your reason for visting Russia isn’t listed as espionage, terrorism or political assassination, you should be able to pay your fee and receive your visa within the allotted time.
As a UK passport holder, getting a Russian visa was a relatively painless affair. If you can negotiate the almost comically foul-tempered staff that work at the Russian consulate in Hong Kong, then whatever passport you carry, you should likewise have no problems getting everything in order for you Trans-Siberian trip.
If you are unable to get to the Russian consulate yourself, or you want to make the whole process of getting a Russian visa easier, you can go to Real Russia and have them sort out the whole application, invitation and pick-up process for you.
It should be noted, however, that there has recently been some confusion as to whether it is indeed possible to apply for a Russian visa in Hong Kong if you are not a Hong Kong resident. I have read that new regulations mean that only those holding an HK ID card can apply in Hong Kong. Others must apply in their own country or country of residence. As soon as I have some clear confirmation of this I will post an update.
Where is the Russian Consulate in Hong Kong?
The first thing to note, is that if you decide to apply for the visa in person, you will find the Russian consulate in Hong Kong at the following address:
Rm. 2106-2123, 21/F, Sun Hung Kai Centre, 30 Harbour Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
tel: + (852) 2877-7188
The visa section is open to the public Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Single and double entry Russian tourist visas usually allow you to stay in Russia for a maximum of 30 days for each visit. Application forms can be downloaded from the Russian consulate website.
As well as the application form you will need the following:
1. Your current passport, valid for six months and at least one blank page.
2. One recent passport size photo glued to the application form.
3. One letter of invitation issued by a Russian travel agency (see below).
4. One copy of the main page of your passport.
Letter of Invitation
At first a strange and worrying requirement, getting a letter of invitation to accompany your Russian visa application is in fact no more troublesome than filling in the visa application form itself. You don’t need to have accommodation booked and verified, you simply need to say that you have.
There are many Russian travel agencies online that can provide a letter of invitation. I used Real Russia, and for £15, I had my letter of invitation in my inbox, waiting to be printed, within ten minutes. The process involved simply filling in my travel details and then waiting for the confirmation. I also found this to be the cheapest available option.
How much does a Russian visa cost?
Tourist visas for Russia are offered for either single or double entry each up to one month.
Visas are granted on either a standard (7 business days) or an urgent (3 business days) basis. Though it should be noted that when I made my application, I was told it would take 9 business days.
Those holding passports from Hong Kong, Macau or China, are able to enter Russia without a visa for stays of up to 14 days.
Visa fees for other select countries can be seen below. The full list of fees can again be found at the Russian consulate website. You will need to pay the applicable fee on application.
|Passport holders from ...||Single Standard (HK$)||Single Urgent (HK$)||Double, Standard||Double, Urgent|
|most European countries||370||740||370||740|
Anything else I need to know about the Trans-Siberian Railway?
Probably. If you are beginning your journey in Hong Kong and intend to travel from Hong Kong to Beijing before joining the Trans-Siberian Railway, you may consider taking the Hong Kong-Beijing train. It will take 24 hours to get there but it will cost you a fraction of the airfare (under HK$ 600) and is a great way to start your adventure early.
If you plan to enter Russia from Mongolia and travel on the Trans-Mongolian Railway beforehand, you will also need to get yourself a Mongolian visa, either in Beijing or Hohhot, or when you reach the China-Mongolia border. For information on getting a Mongolian visa in Erlian and crossing the China-Mongolia border when you get there, see below.