Visa support for all pre-booked services
Vodkatrain provides you with the covering letters and/ or invitation letters required to accompany your visa application… but will not be obtaining visas on your behalf. Ask your Travel Agent for a visa processing service if you would like someone else to handle your applications. The costs to obtain these visas will vary according to the nationality, the Consulate or Embassy the application is made at, and the length of time you allow for the application process. Please note that requirements can vary greatly depending where you make your application, and you should check what paperwork will be necessary before you apply. On booking, we will advise what visas are necessary and the minimum time required to obtain the right documents. Visa invitations and/or covering letters required to obtain your visas are provided 3 months prior to the commencement of your journey, and can be provided earlier on request. Please note that there may be delays in issuing your Russian, Uzbek and Kazak visa invitations if Vodkatrain has not received a completed booking form, full passport details, arrival/ departure details, and notification of at which Embassy or Consulate you will be applying for the Russian visa.
Russia, Uzbekistan & Kazakstan
The Russian, Uzbek and Kazak visas are issued on the strength of ‘invitations’ from local tour companies, and is valid for exactly the dates specified in these documents. These visa invitations are not visas, but are documents necessary to obtain the visa. In order to get the invitations we have to book your accommodation and transport with government authorised agencies that have the power to ‘invite’ foreigners into the country. Once your visa is issued you cannot change your plans without going through the whole process again – and extending a visa after arrival is almost impossible. Please note that we do not offer an ‘invitation only’ service – we can only provide invitations to match accommodation services booked and paid for in advance in accordance with the countries’ laws.
We cannot offer an extension on any visa pre or post tour unless these services are booked through us. If you would like to book pre and post tour services with another agency, they will need to issue you with the invitation for those services. Please note: some Russian, Uzbek and Kazak embassies will not accept multiple invitations for a single tourist visa, so ensure you check with your local embassy before booking additional services.
It’s not over yet! When you check in to your accommodation, our Honchos assist you getting visa registration (stamps on your immigration card detailing just what you have been up to!). All travellers (including inter-city Russian travellers) must be registered in each city they stay in. Travellers staying in licensed accommodation usually pay between US$2-8 for this service - a huge saving on registering a visa obtained without accommodation or over the internet (US$30-50 through some hostels or higher if you register at the friendly police station… did you know these guys haven’t been paid for a month? Enough said). If booking pre and post tour accommodation through another agency – please ensure you ask about registration costs as these can be a nasty surprise!
Uzbekistan & Kazakstan only
As stated above, to obtain Uzbek and Kazak visas you need an invitation, and these are generally valid for 3 months. To obtain the invites we need a copy of your passport, an employment letter, flight details, and your shoe size (just kidding). It usually takes about 7 – 10 working days to get the invite, and then for the visas it takes around 5 – 7 weeks. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to make sure you have at least 6 months validity on your passport!
Generally pretty easy to get if you have a Consulate or Embassy nearby. Mongolian visas are generally issued for the requested length of stay (eg 1 week) but are not date specific. They expire 3 months after the date of issue, so don’t get it too far in advance! Invitations or other documentation are not generally required.
Similar to the Mongolian visa, the Chinese visa is usually valid for 3 months from the date of issue, with permission to stay up to 30 days from date of entry. Most Embassies and Consulates do not require an official invitation, but some may wish to see travel documents and/or copies of flight tickets.