With a vast landmass that spans two continents, 11 time zones and more than 6.6 million square miles, Russia is rife with potential business opportunities for firms seeking a global impact. It’s most precious commodity is its natural resources, although additional potential exists for business in myriad other areas. The first step is obtaining a Russian business visa, which comes with a lineup of specific requirements.
Processing a Russian business visa can happen in as few as three days – provided you have the letter of invitation that’s part of the required documents. Getting a letter of invitation typically takes eight to 15 business days, which means you should plan ahead by at least a month before your scheduled business travel to Russia.
Russian business visas require multiple documents to be submitted to the Russian Consulate. These include:
Several additional requirements apply to former citizens of Russia, USSR or other nearby countries, including proof that you are no longer a citizen of that specific country.
The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990 led to Russia’s transformation from communism to democracy while opening the door to a free market society. Although democracy was not without several economic and other setbacks, Russia remains a powerful force due to its sheer size, population and abundance of natural resources alone.
Moscow is the largest city in Russia as well as in all of Europe, serving as Russia’s economic, political and financial center. Other cities are also known for their healthy business environments. These include:
The topmost industries by far are oil and natural gas, components of the energy sector. Other notable industries throughout Russia include production, retail and manufacturing. Business opportunities exist in the arenas of natural resources, exports and fulfilling the country’s pressing need for infrastructure.
Russia is a diverse country that’s home to several cultural contradictions, something to keep in mind during your business opportunities. Although Russians can be both very formal and very friendly, you’re going to want to stay on the more formal side for business. Use formal language during meetings, and address people with titles and their last names.
Being on time is important, even if you’re meeting with senior executives who may keep you waiting. Meetings and appointments typically last until all points are covered and/or necessary decisions are made, regardless of the scheduled ending time of the gathering.
Food and drink are often combined with meetings, and banquets can last well into the night. Make sure you confirm your appointments via telephone, which is preferred over emails or letters. You may not receive a formal agenda for the meeting, as senior leaders typically dictate what’s discussed and the length of each discussion as the meeting proceeds.
Hierarchy is huge in Russia, with the senior leader being the one who makes the final decision on everything. The boss is a powerful, distant figure likely to openly demonstrate position and wealth. The big boss is never disagreed with or criticized in public. It’s not uncommon for bosses to start confrontations if they’re not getting their way.
Loyalty is another important aspect for doing business in Russia, but it’s typically to an individual person rather than an organization. Networking, working with people with whom they’ve developed relationships, and resolving issues through action are also big on Russians’ list.
Bringing a gift to your first meeting is expected, and you want to choose one with care. Pick a gift that is high-quality, something useful and/or delightful, and not vodka or any other item for which Russia is known.
Whether you have to stay an extra day or arrive a shade early, it’s worth your time in Russia to pay a visit to Red Square. Here you’ll be encased in thousands of years of Russian history in the form of architectural wonders that range from Lenin’s mausoleum to the iconic St Basil’s Cathedral.
Closed to traffic and graced with an impressive replica of the original gate built in 1680, Red Square is home to tourists, photographers, businesspeople, history buffs and all others seeking to absorb its magnificence. The daytime is bustling, and the night time’s atmosphere is enhanced with floodlights illuminating the majestic structures and awe-inspiring skyline.
Red Square is not the only inspiring aspect of Russia, something you’ll certainly find out as you develop business relationships that can be mutually beneficial as well as intensely satisfying. Just make sure to pack your best manners, a thoughtful gift, and the all-important Russia business visa that gets you in the door.
Swift Passport Services is a non-government, third party service that acts as a professional emissary between the user, the U.S. Department of State and various foreign consulates to secure Expedited U.S. Passports and Expedited Visa Service in as little as 1 business day. If you do not wish to use a third party service to obtain your passport or visa, please consult the U.S. Department of State website for further instruction.