Frequently Asked Questions
Please click on the question and you will be taken to the answer below or just browse this section. If something is still not clear or if you have additional questions, please contact us for help or contact your order manager.
- What is the difference between train ticket's classes?
- I have heard rumors that Western passengers are being taken advantage of on Russian trains and in some cases even have their items stolen. Is it safe to travel by Russian trains?
- How can I buy tickets and how will they be delivered?
- How do I get a Russian visa?
- What documents are required to receive a Russian visa?
- What are the new Russian visa regulations for US citizens?
- Is it possible to order Russian visa support documents 6 months or more in advance of applying to the Russian Consulate for the visa?
- I want to enter Russia from China (via the Trans-Siberian train). Can I apply for a visa at the Russian Consulate or Embassy in Beijing, China?
- Do I have to register my visa when in Russia?
- I would like to use your services but at the moment I can’t pay with my credit card. Can I use someone else’s credit card?
- I want to pay by bank transfer. Please advise the best way.
- Do you add additional fees for payments by credit cards?
- Can I pay by credit card for the balance of your services when I arrive in Russia?
Q.: What is the difference between train ticket's classes?
A.: There are a few different classes of accommodation on Russian trains.
1st class is a cabin for 2 people with sleeping berths.
2nd class is a cabin for 4 people with sleeping berths (2 below and 2 above – like bunk beds). On some International trains 2nd class cabin has 3 sleeping berths and 6 sleeping berths but on Russian trains, just 4.
3rd class is a cabin with a sleeping berths not separated from other cabins by doors. You will basically be sleeping in an open car with 40 other people.
Seats – self explanatory.
Usually economy class seats are seats in a carriage (no separate compartments).
Business class seats can be in compartments for 6 people or just wider seats.
When a ticket states that it comes with service, this is usually a lunch box snack and occasionally a hot meal.
Q.: I have heard rumors that Western passengers are being taken advantage of on Russian trains and in some cases even have their items stolen. Is it safe to travel by Russian trains?
A.: There are high speed, newly renovated, high quality service trains called «firmennij» and common passenger trains in Russia. The security level on firmennij trains especially if you travel 1st class is quite high. But if you travel by on a common passenger train for a long distance you should be very careful and look after your stuff. We don’t recommend that foreigners travel by 3rd class especially if this is your first time in Russia and do not speak Russian. It is always a good idea to keep your passport and money with you at all times.
Q.: How can I buy tickets and how will they be delivered?
A.: Please fill in an order form to purchase tickets or just ask the customer service representative that is taking care of your order. We can deliver your tickets by West Post (a postal service that works via Finland) or by Federal Express (express post). Your tickets can be delivered within 10 days by West Post ($10 or 10 EURO) or within 4-5 days by Federal Express (it costs around $90-$100 or around 60 to 80 EURO).
Sending tickets by post is slightly risky anywhere in the world. Our company uses the postal carriers Federal Express (for express post) and West Post (for regular post sent via Finland – which of course is more reliable than regular Russian post) which we have found to be generally reliable. However, Express to Russia, City Realty and Best Hotels Russia cannot guarantee the safe delivery of tickets. We will always do our best but the customer must realize that once the tickets have been posted, they are out of our control. Therefore, delivery of tickets is at the customer’s own risk and if tickets are subsequently lost in the mail, both postage costs and ticket cost are non-refundable. By purchasing tickets through our company, the customer should understand and accept this. If Federal Express is used, the customer will have the right to make a claim and complaint directly to Federal Express . If you start you travel in Moscow or Saint-Petersburg we can deliver ticket to any address in both cities. The cost is 10 EURO. Or you can pick up the tickets in our offices.
Q.: How do I get a Russian visa?
A.:We can send you a visa invitation (sometimes called a voucher) - the main document that you need to apply for a Russian visa. The invitation is needed when you submit your visa application forms to the Russian Consulate in your country. For the application forms, see the visa section of our site where you can download them and learn more about the process of applying. You can either mail in the forms or visit the Consulate in person. We can issue the visa invitation during 1-2 working days. If you need your visa invitation urgently, we can issue and send it to you on the same day. We usually send scanned versions of the invitations by email but can also send them by fax. Sometimes, Consulates in certain countries require the original invitation. In this case, we can mail you the original by Federal Express or by a cheaper but slower service (via Finland) called West Post. Please check with the Consulate to know if you need the original. Postage is an extra charge.
Along with the Russian Visa invitation, US citizens can use the following documents to receive their visa: Confirmation of a hotel reservation, a contract for the provision of tourist services, confirmation of reception of the tourist. The above mentioned documents shall have the register number from the Uniform Federal Register of the Tour Operators of the Russian Federal Tourism Agency and the seal of the host organization.
Q.: What documents are required to receive a Russian visa?
A.: Usually the documents consist of: your original passport, 1-2 passport photos, 1-2 Russian visa application forms, an HIV test if you are applying for a business visa (tourist visa applications do not require this) and of course, the visa invitation (voucher) - this is the document that we can supply you with. However, to be 100% sure of what documents are necessary at specific Consulates, we suggest that you contact the Consulates directly. You can find a listing of phone numbers and addresses either on this website or the site www.russianconsulate.org.
Q.: What are the new Russian visa regulations for US citizens?
A.:In accordance with the Agreement between the Russian Federation and the United States of America on the simplification of visa formalities for nationals of the Russian Federation and the United States of America effective September 9, 2012, US citizens shall as a rule be issued multiple-entry business, private, humanitarian and tourist visas for a stay of no more than 6 months starting from the date of each entry. The visas shall be valid for three years (36 months) from the date of issue of the visa. You can download the new Agreement and updates on Russian visa requirements
Q.: Is it possible to order Russian visa support documents 6 months or more in advance of applying to the Russian Consulate for the visa?
A.: Yes, you can make an order on our web-site in advance. Our tourist visa invitation will be valid for more than 6 months (with business invitations, we can only issue you a visa within 45 days of your planned arrival in Russia). But it is important that you actually apply to the Consulate within 4 months of your arrival in Russia – for example, trying to apply at the Consulate 6 months in advance is usually a problem.
Q.: I want to enter Russia from China (via the Trans-Siberian train). Can I apply for a visa at the Russian Consulate or Embassy in Beijing, China?
A.: You can apply for a Russian Visa in all countries in which a Russian Consulate is located. It does not depend on your nationality. But please remember to check the specific visa requirements at the Consulate in the country where you will be applying (sometimes they require the original visa invitation rather than accepting a fax or scanned copy).
Q.: Do I have to register my visa when in Russia?
A.: Please note, that all foreigners staying in Russia for more than 3 working days, must have their Russian visas registered for the entire period of their stay. You must register on the day of your arrival or you may be required to pay fines or may experience trouble when leaving the country. Our company can provide registration service.
Q.: I would like to use your services but at the moment I can’t pay with my credit card. Can I use someone else’s credit card?
A.: For security reasons we prefer that people pay for our services with their own credit cards. However, it is possible to have someone else pay for you if this person fills in, signs and sends us a credit card authorization form (please, ask our managers to send you authorization form).
Q.: I want to pay by bank transfer. Please advise the best way.
A.: If you’d like to pay by bank transfer please contact us and we will send you an invoice with our bank details. All bank transfers should be made at least 21 days before your check – in date.
Q.: Do you add additional fees for payments by credit cards?
A.: Because of specific taxes and banking costs, we charge an additional 5% service fee for credit card payments by American Express Cards.
Q.: Can I pay by credit card for the balance of your services when I arrive in Russia?
A.: For hotels and visas, we require 100% prepayment by credit card at the time of booking the service.