As of 14 January 2013, the Schengen consulates introduce a harmonised list of supporting documents for visa applications and offer a common information sheet about the general rights and conditions attached to Schengen visas. It renders the preparations of applications and eventual travelling easier.
Russian citizens need to be in possession of a valid visa to enter the Schengen area. Today, the Schengen Area includes most EU States, except for Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom. The non-EU States, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein have joined the Schengen Area. The visa should be applied for at the consulate of the country of destination and can be for single or multiple entries.
Travelling between the EU and Russia was eased in 2007 when the EU-Russia visa facilitation agreement entered into force. This agreement lowered the visa fee, provided for a wider issuing of multiple-entry visas, simplified supporting documents, and waived visas for diplomats. A joint EU-Russia committee monitors the implementation of the agreement and Schengen consulates in Russia actively aim at further harmonising their visa issuing practices.
In 2012, the Schengen countries issued some six million visas for Russian citizens. In 2013 - 6,9 million and in 2014 - 5,7 million.
The EU and the Russian Federation are discussing future visa regimes (see info on Visa and Readmission).
For any practical questions related to the application and issuance of visas, the applicants should contact a relevant Schengen consulate.