Quick update on our Russian visa status ----- PENDING and awaiting approval of LOI
When we decided on a route, we took into consideration that we could apply for a Humanitarian visa granting us multiple entries into Mother Russia
In January 2019 we applied for the needed LOI (Letter of Invitation) with the Mongol Rally organisation. In order to apply for a visa in Russia you need a Letter of Invitation (LOI) and depending on the type of visa you need a special LOI from a special bureau. So we can't apply for our visa until we have a special LOI for our Humanitarian visa.
In April we still has not received anything and we were told that due to recent internal changes in Russian MFA they have temporarily suspended humanitarian and other long term LOI issuance.
Oh dear, this would mean that we would have to make a very hard decision. 1. We could change our route and go underneath the Caspian and Black sea taking us through Iran. Many issues with this where the most important is extra visas and a carnet de passage for Pablo in Iran. 2. Or alternatively we could take a boat over the Caspian sea from Baku. This might seem a very nice option, however, Azerbaijan does not issue long term visas and the boats over the Caspian Sea fare very sporadic resulting in long waits and even visas that run out while waiting days at the docks for a boat to turn up and have space. There are no time tables or indicators nor are there any certainties. Which is good for adventure but bad if you are on a tight schedule. 3. Apply for a new Russian Transit visa in UlaanBaatar. This may be the best option but would cost us at least three days waiting around. This would give us the possibility to complete our initial route with little extra hassle.
We are not yet sure which option it will be but we strongly are inclined to choose option 3.
And then the we unexpectadly had an interesting update from the Mongol Rally:
We have just got a confirmation that the LOI applications will resume on Monday next week, so it is still an option for them. It can take up to 5 weeks for these LOIs to be issued. However, we cannot guarantee timing at this point if further delays occur. Once the LOIs get approved, the actual visas will then take further 4 weeks to process (in London, or check with your local embassy) with standard service. This may bring the visa due date very close to the launch, so you may have to use express service on visas once the LOIs come through which may add extra costs to the whole visa process.
We are back in business and awaiting our LOIs!
Keep following our social media channels and website for more updates and the latest developments! It's becoming exciting now!