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Country Specific Info.

The United States State Department produces Consular Information Sheets with health, safety and other country information for every country in the world. They are one good source of information, though you should look at multiple sources of information and take your own personal situation into account when selecting a country to study in.

The latest Consular Information Sheet for Russia is below. We do not take responsibility for this information or edit it in any way. You can access the State Department travel site directly at: http://travel.state.gov/travel/

March 30, 2018

Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Moscow

Bolshoy Deviatinsky Pereulok No. 8
Moscow 121099, Russian Federation
Telephone: +(7) (495) 728-5000 or +(7) (495) 728-5577
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(7) (495) 728-5000
Fax: +(7) (495) 728-5084
moscowacs@state.gov
Consulates

U.S. Consulate General St. Petersburg

Due to the Russian government’s ordered closure of the U.S. Consulate General, effective March 31, 2018 we are no longer able to provide services to U.S. citizens in St. Petersburg.

U.S. Consulate General Vladivostok
32 Ulitsa Pushkinskaya,
Vladivostok 690001
Russian Federation
Telephone: +(7) (4232) 300-070
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(7) (914) 791-0067
Fax: +(7) (4232) 300-091
vladcons@state.gov

U.S. Consulate General Yekaterinburg
Ulitsa Gogolya 15a,
4th floor, Yekaterinburg 620151
Russian Federation
Telephone: +(7) (343) 379-3001
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(7) 917-569-3549
Fax: +(7) (343) 379-4515
consulyekat@state.gov

Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Russia for information on U.S. - Russia relations.

Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

Russian authorities strictly enforce all visa and immigration laws. The Embassy of the Russian Federation website provides the most up to date information regarding visa regulations and requirements. In accordance with Russia’s Entry-Exit Law, Russian authorities may deny entry or reentry into Russia for 5 years or more and cancel the visas of foreigners who have committed two “administrative” violations within the past three years. Activities that are not specifically covered by the traveler’s visa may result in an administrative violation and deportation.

Under a bilateral agreement signed in 2012, qualified U.S. applicants for humanitarian, private, tourist, and business visas should request and receive multiple-entry visas with a validity of three years. Visas issued under the agreement permits stays in the territory of the Russian Federation for up to six consecutive months. (Please note that other types of visas are not part of the agreement and those visa holders should pay close attention to the terms of their visas.) You must exit Russia before your visa expires. The maximum period of stay is shown on the visa.

You must have a current U.S. passport with the appropriate visa. Russian visas in an expired or canceled passport are not valid.
Foreigners entering Russia will be fingerprinted.
You must obtain a valid visa for your specific purpose of travel before arriving in Russia, unless you are arriving as a cruise ship passenger (see below information for passengers of cruise ships and ferries). Do not attempt to enter Russia before the date shown on your visa. If you are staying in Russia for more than 7 days you must register your visa and migration card with the General Administration for Migration Issues of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
For a foreigner to receive a Russian visa, there must be a Russian sponsoring organization or individual.
You must list all areas in Russia that you intend to visit on your visa application. You will be arrested if you enter a restricted area, so it is vital that you include all destinations on your visa application. There is no centralized list or database of the restricted areas, so travelers should check with their sponsor, hotel, or the nearest office of the FMS before traveling to unfamiliar cities and towns.
You must carry your passport with you at all times. Russian police have the authority to stop people and request identity and travel documents at any time.
Migration cards must be carried at all times while in Russia. A “migration card” is the white paper document given by the border police on first entry to Russia. If you lose your migration card you should ask your sponsor to assist you in reporting it to FMS and request a replacement.
Do not enter before the date shown on your visa, and do not remain in Russia beyond the date your visa expires. Violations of even an hour have led to penalties.
Transit visas: We recommend that all passengers transiting through Russia obtain a Russian transit visa.
With the exceptions noted below, travelers will not require a transit visa if they are transiting through an international airport in Russia, do not leave the Customs zone, and depart from the same airport within 24 hours. Please note the following exceptions.
Travelers should note that Sheremetyevo Airport terminals D, E, and F include transit zones and do not require transit visas. If however, a passenger arrives at D, E, or F but departs from Sheremetyevo terminal C, a transit visa is required. Sheremetyevo terminal C is located six kilometers away from the other terminals.
Travelers must have a Russian transit visa if they plan to transit through Russia by land en route to a third country or if they transfer to another airport.
Travelers must possess a Russian transit visa in addition to a Belarusian visa if their travel route either to or from Belarus goes through Russia.

Anyone entering Russia who has claim to Russian citizenship, regardless of any other citizenship held, is fully accountable to the Russian authorities for all obligations of a citizen, including the required military service.

U.S.-Russian dual nationals and Russian citizens who are Legal Permanent residents of the United States must register their dual nationality/foreign residency. Registration forms and further information (in Russian only) can be found on the website of the General Administration for Migration Issues of the Interior Ministry of Russia.
U.S.-Russian dual nationals must both enter and exit on a Russian passport. You will not be permitted to depart on an expired passport. Applying for a passport can take several months.
U.S.-Russian dual nationals who return to Russia on a “Repatriation Certificate” are only permitted to enter Russia and will not be permitted to depart Russia until they obtain a valid Russian passport.
Students and English teachers should be certain that their activities are in strict keeping with their visa type. Students must not teach or coach English,whether compensated or not, while traveling on a student visa as it is considered a visa violation and may subject you to detention and deportation.
Minors who also have Russian citizenship and are traveling alone or in the company of adults who are not their parents, must carry a Russian passport as well as their parents’ notarized consent for the trip, which can be obtained at a Russian embassy or consulate, or a U.S. notary public. A consent obtained in the United States from a U.S. notary public must be apostilled, translated into Russian, and properly affixed. Authorities will prevent such minors from entering or leaving Russia if they cannot present this consent.
Passengers of Cruise Ships and Ferries at St. Petersburg and Vladivostok are permitted to stay in Russia for 72 hours without a visa when accompanied by a tour operator licensed by Russian authorities. Ferry schedules may not permit visitors to stay more than two nights without exceeding the 72 hour limit. If you plan to sightsee on your own you must have a tourist visa. A visa is also required if you plan to depart Russia by another mode of transportation. Riverboat cruise passengers must have a visa and must follow the general guidelines for entry/exit requirements. U.S. citizens entering Russia as cruise passengers should be aware that a number of active duty and retired U.S. military members have experienced targeted harassment by the Russian authorities.
Crimea: Follow the guidance in the Travel Warning for Ukraine and do not travel to the Crimean Peninsula.

Documentary Requirements: Consult with the Embassy of the Russian Federation or Consulates General for detailed explanations of documentary requirements. The following are only a sampling of examples.

Tourist Visas: Visa application form, hotel reservation confirmation, contract for provision of tourist services with a tourist organization registered with the Russian Federal Tourism Agency.
Business and Humanitarian Visas: Visa application form and written statement from the host organization in Russian, including the following information:
Organization's full name, official address, and contact information
Full name of the person signing the written statement
If the organization is established in the territory of the Russian Federation, the organization's individual taxpayer number
Visa applicant's name, date of birth, citizenship, gender, passport number, number of entries sought, purpose of travel, requested period of entry, location of intended residence in Russia, and cities to be visited.
 
Private Visas: Visa application form and written statement from the hosting individual notarized by a Russian notary, including the following information:
Hosting individual's full name, date of birth, citizenship, gender, passport number, address of registration, and individual's actual residence
Visa applicant's name, date of birth, citizenship, gender, passport number, number of entries sought, purpose of travel, requested period of entry, location of intended residence in Russia, and cities to be visited.

The Russian Embassy or Consulate receiving the visa application may ask for additional documentation, including:

Bank statement from the applicant
Statement from the applicant's employer regarding the applicant's salary for the preceding year, half year, or month
Medical insurance valid in Russia and fully covering the period of the first trip
Documents regarding the applicant's ownership of property in the United States
Certificates verifying family membership (i.e., marriage certificate and children's birth certificates).

HIV/AIDS Entry Restrictions: Some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions exist for visitors to and foreign residents of Russia. Applicants for longer-term tourist and work visas or residence permits are required to undergo an HIV/AIDS test. The Russian government may also ask these applicants to undergo tests for tuberculosis and leprosy. Travelers who believe they may be subject to these requirements should verify this information with the Embassy of the Russian Federation.

Find information on dual nationality, prevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

Safety and Security

Terrorism: Persons visiting or living in Russia remain potentially vulnerable to attacks by transnational and local terrorist organizations.

In the last decade, Moscow and St. Petersburg have been the targets of terrorist attacks. Bombings have occurred at Russian government buildings, airports, hotels, tourist sites, markets, entertainment venues, schools, residential complexes, and on public transportation (subways, buses, trains, and scheduled commercial flights).
Bomb threats against public venues are common. If you are at a location that receives a bomb threat, follow all instructions from the local police and security services.

North Caucasus Region: Civil and political unrest continues throughout the North Caucasus region including Chechnya, North Ossetia, Ingushetia, Dagestan, Stavropol, Karachayevo-Cherkessiya, and Kabardino-Balkariya. Local criminal gangs have kidnapped foreigners, including U.S. citizens, for ransom.

Do not travel to Chechnya or any other areas in the North Caucasus region.
If you reside in these areas depart immediately.
U.S. government travel to the region is prohibited, due to ongoing security concerns.
U.S. Government has no ability to assist U.S. citizens in the North Caucasus Region.

Mt. Elbrus:

Do not attempt to climb Mt. Elbrus, as individuals must pass close to volatile and insecure areas of the North Caucasus region.

Crimea:

Do not travel to Crimea.
U.S. Embassy Kyiv’s Consular section provides services to U.S. citizens in Crimea.
The current status of Crimea prevents official Americans from traveling to that area.

Harassment: Foreigners have become victims of harassment, mistreatment, and extortion by law-enforcement and other officials.

Police do not need to show probable cause in order to stop, question, or detain individuals.
If stopped, obtain the officer's name, badge number, and patrol car number, and note where the stop happened, as this information assists local officials in identifying the perpetrators.
Report harassment or crimes to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow or the nearest U.S. Consulate General.

Demonstrations:

Avoid public demonstrations. U.S. citizens who have participated in demonstrations have been arrested by the Russian authorities. You can find Security Messages for U.S. citizens on the Embassy’s website.

Crime:

Crimes against tourists occur at popular tourist sites and on public transportation.
Be cautious and aware of your surroundings. U.S. citizens have been victims of serious crimes when visiting Russia. The ability or willingness of Russian authorities to impartially and thoroughly investigate crimes against Americans is often doubtful. Death cases have resulted in disputed findings. Frequently, criminal gangs collude with the local police and operate with near impunity.
Exercise caution when large crowds have gathered.
Be vigilant, as pickpocketing is prevalent in the larger cities.
Do not leave bags unattended. Thieves are active on public transportation, underground walkways, the subway, overnight trains, train stations, airports, markets, tourist attractions, and restaurants.
Never leave your drink unattended in a bar or club. Drink alcohol in moderation and stay in control.
Never agree to go to a bar or club with someone you have just met on the street. Criminals have drugged some travelers at bars, while others have taken strangers back to their lodgings, where they drugged, robbed, and/or assaulted them.
Report Credit card or ATM card theft to the credit card company or issuing bank immediately.
Avoid carrying large sums of cash. High-profile armed robberies are an almost daily occurrence. The attacks usually take place while the victims are either entering or exiting banks. These attacks occur throughout Moscow, including in the city center and near the U.S. Embassy. Travelers have also had cash stolen from hotel safes. 
Be alert to other criminal schemes, such as:
“Turkey Drop” Scams, a street scam in which an individual "accidentally" drops money on the ground in front of an intended victim, while an accomplice either waits for the money to be picked up, or picks up the money him/herself and offers to split it with the pedestrian. Then the victim is accused of stealing the money. Do not pick up the money. Walk quickly away from the scene.
Internet Dating Scams: U.S. citizens have lost thousands of dollars to romantic “partners” met online who feign distress to persuade the American to send money. Never send money to anyone you have not met in person. Please review our information on International Financial Scams.
Airport Scams: A con artist asks you to watch his bag, then extorts money or other valuables to avoid hassle with the police. Never agree to watch a bag that belongs to a stranger.
Crimes Involving Businesses: Extortion and corruption are common in the business environment. Business disputes may involve threats of or even acts of violence. Organized criminal groups, and occasionally even local police, target foreign businesses in many cities and have been known to demand protection money.

See the Department of State and the FBI pages for additional information on scams.

Victims of Crime: Report crimes to the local police at 02 or 102, or 112 if using a mobile phone, and the U.S. Embassy at +7 495 728-5000, or the nearest consulate at the telephone numbers listed above in the Embassies and Consulates section. Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime. United States law enforcement agencies do not have jurisdiction to investigate crimes against U.S. citizens that occur on Russian territory.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

help you find appropriate medical care
assist you in reporting a crime to the police
contact relatives or friends with your written consent
explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
provide a list of local attorneys
provide our information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical
support in cases of destitution
help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
replace a stolen or lost passport.

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence should contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance.

For further information:

Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
Call us in Washington at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
See the State Department's travel website for Worldwide Caution, Travel Advisories.
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
See traveling safely abroad for useful travel tips.

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Arrest Notification: If you are detained, ask the police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy or Consulate immediately. Your U.S. passport does not protect you from arrest or prosecution. See our webpage for further information.

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to all Russian laws. If you violate these laws, even unknowingly, you may be arrested, fined, imprisoned, or expelled and may be banned from re-entering Russia.

Some crimes committed outside the United States are prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

You can be arrested, detained, fined, deported and banned for 5 years or more if you are found to have violated Russian immigration law.
Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Russia are severe. Convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
You can be detained for not carrying your passport with you.
You can be jailed immediately for driving under the influence of alcohol.
It is illegal to pay for goods and services in U.S. dollars, except at authorized retail establishments.
You can be arrested for attempting to leave the country with antiques, even if they were legally purchased from licensed vendors. Cultural value items like artwork, icons, samovars, rugs, military medals and antiques, must have certificates indicating they do not have historical or cultural value. You may obtain certificates from the Russian Ministry of Culture. For further information, please contact the Russian Customs Committee.
Retain all receipts for high-value items, including caviar.
You must have advance approval to bring in satellite telephones.
Global Positioning System (GPS) and other radio electronic devices, and their use, are subject to special rules and regulations in Russia. Contact the Russian Customs Service for required permissions.

Faith-Based Travelers: Russian authorities have detained, fined, and in some cases deported travelers for engaging in religious activities. Russian officials have stated that Russia recognizes four “historic” religions: Orthodox Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism. The Russian government places restrictions on so-called “missionary activity” and defines it broadly – travelers engaging in certain types of religious work may risk harassment, detention, fines, or deportation for administrative violations if they do not have proper authorization from a registered religious group. The Russian government has detained U.S. citizens for religious activities that they contend are not permitted under a tourist visa. Even speaking at a religious service, traditional or non-traditional, has resulted in immigration violations. See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report.

LGBTI Travelers: Russian law bans providing "the propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" to minors. Foreign citizens face fines, up to 15 days in jail, and deportation. The law is vague as to what Russia considers propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations.

Discrimination based on sexual orientation is widespread in Russia. Acts of violence and harassment targeting LGBTI individuals occur.
Government officials have made derogatory comments about LGBTI persons.
Violence against the LGBTI community has increased sharply since the law banning propaganda was passed, including entrapment and torture of young gay men by neo-Nazi gangs and the murder of multiple individuals due to their sexual orientation.
There have been credible reports of arrest, torture, and extrajudicial killing of gay men in Chechnya allegedly conducted by Chechen regional authorities.

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Getting around in Russia is often difficult for persons with mobility issues. In general, public transportation is not accommodating to people with disabilities. The Moscow Metro is generally not accessible to persons with disabilities.

Many sidewalks are narrow and uneven.
Mobility is usually easier in major cities such as Moscow and St. Petersburg. 
Crossing streets in large cities can be difficult, since it usually requires the use of a pedestrian underpass which includes stairs, steep ramps, and no elevators.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

Health

Medical care in most areas of Russia is below Western standards. The Russian authorities have cut hospital bed numbers resulting in increased deaths. The healthcare system budget will be cut 33 % in 2017. Moscow and St. Petersburg facilities may have higher standards but do not accept all cases and require cash or credit card payment at Western rates.

Payment is expected at the time of service.
The Embassy does not pay the medical bills of private U.S. citizens.
U.S. Medicare does not provide coverage outside the United States.
Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Elderly travelers and those with existing health problems are at risk.
Disposable IV supplies, syringes, and needles are standard practice in urban area hospitals. If you plan to travel in remote areas, bring a supply of sterile, disposable syringes and corresponding IV supplies.
Do not visit tattoo parlors or piercing services due to the risk of HIV and hepatitis infection.
Due to uncertainties in local blood supply, non-essential and elective surgeries are not recommended.

Prescription Medication:

Russia prohibits some prescription and over the counter drugs that are legal and commonly used in the United States.
Carry a copy of the valid U.S. prescription, including a notarized translation into Russian, when entering Russia with prescription medications.
Prescription medication should be in its original packaging.

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

Most care providers in Russia only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.

The following diseases are prevalent:

Tuberculosis
HIV/AIDS has reached epidemic proportions
Sexually transmitted diseases: syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia
Tick-borne encephalitis
Rabies

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Further health information:

World Health Organization
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: Road conditions and driver safety customs differ significantly from those in the United States. In some areas of Russia roads are practically nonexistent or have poor or nonexistent shoulders. Many roads are one-way or do not permit left turns.

Exercise caution near traffic. Drivers frequently fail to yield to pedestrians.
Vehicles regularly drive and park on sidewalks or pedestrian walkways.
Do not drive outside the major cities at night.
Livestock crossing roadways is common in rural areas.
Construction sites and road hazards are often unmarked.
Food, hotel, and auto service facilities are rare along roadways.
Do not drive alone at night or sleep in your vehicle on the side of the road.
Do not pick up hitchhikers. You may be assaulted or arrested for unwittingly transporting narcotics.

Public Transportation:

Do not use unmarked taxis. Passengers have been victims of robbery, kidnapping, extortion and theft.
Robberies may occur in taxis shared with strangers.

Traffic Laws: Russian authorities consider traffic or parking infractions as “administrative violations” that provide a sufficient basis for deportation and/or denial of entry back to Russia at a later date. This is an increasingly frequent occurrence.

Drivers must carry third-party liability insurance under a policy valid in Russia.
You may drive for 60 days using your U.S. driver’s license, with a notarized Russian translation.
Tourists may also use International Driving Permits issued by the American Automobile Association or the American Automobile Touring Alliance to drive in Russia.
Russian law requires foreigners on business or employment visas or with permanent residence status to have a Russian driver's license.
Driving regulations are strictly enforced and violators are subject to severe legal penalties.
Russia practices a zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence of alcohol. Authorities can detain an intoxicated driver and your driver’s license can be suspended up to two years.
If you are involved in an accident, do not move your vehicle from the accident site. You may be held liable if you move your car even if you are not at fault.
Police and ambulance response to accidents is slow.
Roadside police checkpoints are commonplace and are ostensibly in place to detect narcotics, alien smuggling, and firearms violations.

See our Road Safety page for more information.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed that the Government of Russia's Civil Aviation Authority is in compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Russia's air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA's safety assessment page.

College of Charleston Center for International Education