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These notes apply to me as a UK citizen / British passport holder. See the links page for details of embassies, etc. As of September 2003 this information is based on research and previous experience: as and when I actually acquire the relevant visas I will update this page.
No visas are required along my route through France, Germany, Czech republic, and Slovakia.
"Private visit" visas are now available without
the need for an invitation.
An invitation is required before visas are issued. Tourist
visas are rarely granted for more than 30 days, which is
obviously not enough for my trip, so I will need a business
visa which can be valid for up to 6 months or even a year.
I am hoping to arrange my invitation through the Cycle Touring
Club of Russia. I will get my Russian visa sorted out before
leaving the UK.
Mongolian visas now seem quite easy to get, and invitations
are no longer required. I will probably enter Mongolia some
4 months (or more) after I leave the UK, and I don't know
whether the embassy in London will issue a visa that far
in advance. I may, therefore, wait to acquire my Mongolian
visa at the consulate in Kyzyl, Irkutsk, or Ulan-Ude (Russia).
Chinese visas are valid for entry within three months of issue. This is not long enough for me to get to China from the UK, so I will have to pick one up along the way, probably at the embassy in Ulan Baator, Mongolia. I can't find any reference to any Chinese consulates in Russia apart from in Khabarovsk. It would be useful if there was one in Irkutsk or Blagoveshchensk, and I've heard rumours that one might be opened in Irkutsk in due course. But only rumours.
Generally, Chinese visas are issued with little fuss and no invitation required - although I've heard that at some Central Asian embassies (e.g. in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan) they sometimes do require invitations.