plications by mail. If you live near one of the Russian consulates in Washington, D.C.,
New York, San Francisco, Seattle, or Houston, you can deliver your documents in per-
plication through a third-party service, which can be a smart idea anyway.
Third-Party Visa Agencies: Various agencies specialize in steering your visa ap-
plication through the process. They can also help you arrange visa invitations and nav-
igate the confusing application. I've had a good experience with Passport Visa Ex-
In addition to the $140/$180 visa price, visa agencies charge a service fee of about
$50-85 (including the invitation fee). To ship your passport securely to and from the
visa agency costs another $50 or so. Figure at least $250 total per person.
EnteringRussiawithaVisa: When you enter the country, the immigration officer
will ask you to fill out a “migration card” in duplicate, listing your name, passport
number, and other details. The officer will stamp both parts of the card and keep one.
Don't lose the other half—it must be presented when you leave the country. (A digital
version of this card is being phased in, but you'll still need to carry the hard copy.)
When entering the country, you may also be asked to show your visa invitation—keep
Once you arrive in Russia, it's wise to “register” your passport and visa with the
local authorities. Usually your hotel will take care of this for you—they'll need a copy
of your passport. You'll receive a confirmation slip, which you should keep carefully,
as you may be asked for it when you leave Russia. While this step is only required
for stays of more than seven days, if you don't register, when you depart, you may be
asked to show proof (such as hotel receipts) that you were in Russia for less than a
While in Russia, you are required to carry your original passport (not just a copy)
with you at all times. Police in Russia can stop you at any time and ask to see your
documents, though this seldom happens to tourists.
Most people catch the train at its starting point at Helsinki's main train station. But if
connecting directly from plane to train (or vice versa), you can save a few minutes and a
couple of euros by boarding or leaving the train at Tikkurila, in the northern suburbs close
to Helsinki's airport (frequent public bus #61 runs between the airport and Tikkurila for
only €2.70). A direct rail link to Helsinki's airport is scheduled to open in 2014.
By Bus: Buses from either Tallinn or Helsinki are easy and cheap, but not quick (from
Tallinn—€25-30, about 10/day, 7 hours, www.luxexpress.eu ; from Helsinki—€40, cheaper
train station in St. Petersburg, which is right by the Baltiiskaya Metro stop.
Get to know Nevsky Prospekt (Невский Проспект), St. Petersburg's main street. Almost
everything you'll want to see is either along Nevsky or a few blocks to either side. A few