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Applying for a Russian transit visa in Tbilisi

Applying for a Russian Transit Visa in Tbilisi

Applying for a Russian Transit visa in Tbilisi is a relatively straightforward process for nearly all nationalities it seems – excluding Australians. Once you work out the paperwork though, it’s a breeze. Here’s how it’s done (for other nationalities and Australians also, please check for personal updates on the russian visa section on this awesome website – Caravanistan).

Getting the paperwork right

Getting the paperwork right is imperative to getting any visa in the first place. To apply for a Russian Transit visa in Tbilisi as an Australian (other nationalities can also refer to Caravanistan’s russian transit visa forum), you need these documents FILLED OUT IN RUSSIAN!

So get off the WiFi, go make friends and ask them to help you translate. The Russian Interests office will not translate the russian transit visa for you. (I was told the reasoning behind this is because Australia requires Russians to apply for a visa in English, so they returned the favour)

Here’s what you need:

Application form (completed in russian)

– transit letter (completed in russian, with a second english translation)

– bio letter (completed in russian, with a second english translation)

Visa recieval slip (completed in russian)

– Passport

– Colour copy of your passport

– copy of your vehicle registration (if self driving)

– 1 x photo with white background for application

Russian Transit visa letter

On your TRANSIT LETTER, you must clearly state your name, where you are going from the entry point in Russia (eg Georgia to Verkhniy Lars), to the exit point of Russia (eg Kazakhstan). You need to tell them the route, so include the major cities on the way through, so they can calculate how many kms you will be travelling. If you are unsure of how long you need, use google maps to estimate the distance.

The consul will want you to travel a minimum of 500km a day, so if you are going by bicycle, you’ll be wanting to get a tourist visa.

The transit letter I used is:

‘To the Russian Federation Interests section,

My name is (full name as in Passport), and I am from (country). I will be transiting to Kazahkstan from Georgia on the (insert dates here). The route I will be taking is entering from the Verknhy Lars border entry at Georgia, Vladikavkaz, Elista, Astrakhan and exiting at the Kazahkstan border near Karaozek. I will be transiting by motorcycle, which I own. Attached you will find the motorcycle ownership and registration details.

Sincerely (your name as in Passport)’

As an Australian, you will need this translated to Russian. I also handed in the english version.

Bio letter

On your bio letter you need to tell them a little about yourself. This is the example I had translated.

‘To the Russian Federation Interests section,

My name is (full name as in Passport), and I am from (country). I was born in (as in passport) I have studied/studying at (university/college/school) and graduated in (grad date). I work as a (job description) and have been working there for (how long you have been working there).

(Your name as in passport)’

As an Australian, you will need this translated to Russian. I also handed in the english version.

Before submitting the russian transit visa application

Don’t make the mistake I made of going to the russian interests office with your documents in english – there is a section on the russian website that clearly states in Russian that Australians and Georgians must submit their application in Russian. So, write everything in Russian.

Please note:

(The only things that will not need to be in Russian are your name, work address, home address, university address, parents names)

Also Note:

When you apply for the visa, it takes 10 CALENDAR days for processing, including the day you submit the form. For example –

Application date – 10th october (Day 1)
Pick up date – 19th october (Day 10)
Visa entry date – 20th october

Pick up dates exclude weekends, so if you select the 19th October and it’s a saturday for example, you will have to pick up the visa on Monday the 21st – meaning your visa has already begun to count down.

Plan accordingly and get your dates right – otherwise you might have to fill out the whole form again and lose another day or ten.

Submitting the russian transit visa application

Once you have all your documentation together, go to the Russian Interests section at the Swiss Embassy, location here. Every time I have been there it has relatively busy, although that might be because everyone just likes to hang out there, I’m not really sure. It’ll be tough to miss.

You will see alot of people milling about the front gate, you don’t need to ‘line’ up like everyone else – just walk around them all and wander into the gate, show the guards your passport and they’ll do the rest.

Once inside, you will need to present your passport to last line of defence, an orderly gent who will scan your goods and passport and then push you into the waiting room to the right.Wait for your number to be called (which the guards will have given you). The screen will ding every time a new number is called.

Once your number is called, you will meet a nice Russian lady who is very polite and helpful who will do all the checking of your documents. Once she stamps you off, go to the pay window and pay $100 US (this is for Australians, prices vary for other nationalities) for the transit visa. You will then receive a stamped piece of paper (don’t lose this) and you’ll come back 10 days later to pick up your visa at 6pm, or thereabouts, with said piece of paper.

Yes it’s expensive – but useful for those who don’t want to go via Iran or Azerbaijan to the east, or via Turkey to the west. Not sure on prices for other nationalities so check Caravanistan for updates on pricing and application process.

Please note:

Your passport will stay at the consul the entirety of the waiting period for the visa. So you will be in Georgia for the entire time (and really, it’s a great place to be stuck)

Tourist Visa

It is also possible to apply for a tourist visa as an Australian in Tbilisi, however the process is a little different – refer to this informative POST for the tourist visa process. It is almost identical to the transit visa process.

In Summary

Yes, it is possible to get a russian transit visa on the road from Tbilisi. Other embassies may have different rules, and the best place to check out other russian embassies is Caravanistan.

As an Australian, you need to submit the application and supporting documents in Russian as listed above, and allow 10 calendar days for processing. A transit visa costs $100 US for Australians. Make sure the notes are fresh. Do not lose the visa slip, you will need this to pick up your visa.

I cannot stress enough that the entirety of the russian transit visa application should be in Russian IF you are Australian.

If you have any experiences at the Russian Interests office in Tbilisi, please leave comments in the section below or email them to atthehandlebars.com

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