information for global expats

Family Members and Marriage for Expats in Russia

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: February 2014

Family Members

Ideally, when you immigrate to another country, you are able to bring your partner and children with you at the same time. If this is not financially or otherwise possible, you may need to spend some time working in Russia, possibly remitting money to your home country to help support your family. Once you have started to familiarise yourself with Russia, found some suitable family accommodation and perhaps looked into schools and such things, you may find it easier to move the rest of your family into the country.

As with most other aspects of Russian immigration, arranging a visit to family or friends in Russia involves a lot of administration. The official procedure for doing this involves applying for a private visa. To do so, the person resident in Russia will need to write a letter of recommendation and submit it to the Federal Migration Service. However, the invitation on its own can take upwards of three months to obtain. An alternative is to apply for a tourist visa and obtain an invitation from an institution such as a hotel.

To enter Russia to join an established family member on a more permanent basis, you will need an Accompanying Spouse visa or a Dependant visa, whichever is appropriate. Each child will need a separate visa.


It is not too onerous a task for two Russians to get married. However, marriage in Russia when at least one party is a non-resident may be complicated by international agreements that are in place. This may involve a notice of marriage period and other administrative procedures.

There is no special type of marriage visa or such like in Russia. Non-resident couples can enter the country with any type of visa, though you will need to have one that lasts 90 days. Documents you will need include the following:

  • passports with the correct visas.
  • birth certificates
  • marriageability certificate (names for this document vary from country to country)
    • This certificate may need to be officially stamped, or legalised by attaching an Apostille Certificate; it generally has a limited period of validity.

If this is not your first marriage, you will also need proof that any previous marriages have ended, i.e. final divorce documents or death certificates. All documents you submit need to be translated into Russian and stamped by a Russian notary. It is best to get all the documents translated at the same time, for consistency and to keep name transliterations consistent.

The next stage is to arrange a registration appointment at the local registry office (ZAGS.) While attending the appointment, which will be after a minimum of 30 days, you will need to pay the registration fee. The fee can also be paid at any branch of Sberbank, the government bank. During the appointment, assuming your documents are all present and correct, you will be given an application form complete (in Russian only.) Once you have submitted the form and it has been approved, the ZAGS official will allocate a date for your wedding. This will be from 31 to 60 days after the date of the appointment.

To be legally married and obtain a valid marriage certificate, you need to hold a civil ceremony. If you also want a religious ceremony in one of Russia’s many magnificent churches, you will need to arrange it separately. As might be expected, marriage and the solemnisation of civil partnerships for same-sex couples are illegal in Russia.



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