Russia Is Waiving Visa Requirements for World Cup Attendees This Summer

Apr 24, 2018

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Traveling to Russia can be an extremely frustrating affair, thanks to a grueling visa application process the US Embassy and Consulate has called a “restrictive and complicated [regime].”

But this summer, Russia is waiving its visa requirements for foreigners holding tickets to a FIFA World Cup soccer match. Only 27 countries currently enjoy regular visa-free travel to Russia, and that list includes South Ossetia, Moldova and Abkhazia.

According to the embassy of the Russian Federation, foreigners can travel throughout Russia from June 4 until July 25 without a Russian visa. The only document needed for entry and exit is a personalized spectator card, known as a Fan ID. All spectators who have purchased a game ticket must apply for these laminated cards, which are issued free of charge and required for access to the stadiums (and Russia).

Even if you’re not a soccer fan (or a sports fan of any kind) you should consider snatching up one of the last-minute tickets — because it’s not just the lack of bureaucracy that makes a visa-free trip to Russia so appealing. Fan ID and ticket holders will also enjoy free public transportation in and between the host cities on match days.

Though availability is limited, tickets are still on sale through FIFA for select games, and start at $165.

A FIFA spokesperson also told The Points Guy that “tickets for some matches, which are currently unavailable, may become available again” due to tickets being resold through the association and the potential release of new ticket inventories.

To put that price tag in perspective, a single tourist visa starts at $123 — and that doesn’t include third-party service fees. Working with a company such as Allied Passport & Visa can take some of the headache out of the process, but that will add to your total.

Allied, for example, charges $70 for standard processing. There can also be ancillary fees for tourist invitations, passport photocopies and other components of the application.

Steve Gempeler, of Allied, told The Points Guy it’s “fairly easy to obtain approval for a Russian visa, as long as your paperwork and requirements are perfect.”

Ultimately, costs for a Russian tourist visa can easily approach $200. And an accepted application still cannot be guaranteed.

Sure, a soccer match between Panama and Tunisia might not be at the top of your travel to-do list. But this could be one of the easiest — and most cost-effective ways — to see the whimsical onion domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral in person.

Featured photo of Saint Petersburg by Rickson Liebano/Getty Images

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.