Things to remember before and during traveling in Russia

Moscow Travel Blog

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I am writing this blog to save potential Russian travelers some of the headaches that I suffered from before and during my trip to Moscow/Russia. I’m usually a very organized person, but for some reason it managed to escape my attention that you need a visa to go to Russia. And not only that: you also need a lot of other paperwork that I will try to explain here. I don’t mean to scare anyone off of going to Russia, but you should just have this bureaucratic task in mind.

1.      As I said you need a visa. This you can get through the Russian embassy in your country by filling out a form (you can find it online) with a passport sized picture of yourself. The embassy in Copenhagen does no longer receive snail mail, so you will have to show up in person the three hours they are open per day. I don’t know, if it’s the same in other countries, but now you’re warned.

 

2.      But I’m jumping ahead. Before you can even show up at the embassy to get your visa, you will have to get an invitation and a voucher from an officially recognized Russian travel agency in your country. If you buy the trip as a whole package through the agency, they will usually take care of these things for you. But if you travel, like I did and prefer to do, on your own, arranging flight and hotel/hostel by yourself or staying at a private place, you need to pay a travel agency to do it for you. I Googled Moscow and visa, and got a list of agencies that help with this stuff. I was lucky that the one I picked, also arranged for the visa to be granted by the embassy. But I had to pay for it: my plane ticket cost me 500$ and the papers cost me 250$.

 

3.      So now you’re ready to get into the country, but the adventures do not stop here. Before three days (holidays and weekends excluded) you have to register in the city you are in. I did it through a travel partner of my agency, but if you’re staying at a hotel/hostel, you may get them to do it for you (probably for a fee). In my case they had to check my information, and three days later, 1 day before my departure, I could pick up the registration. But the fun doesn’t end here: every time you arrive at a new city in Moscow, you have to repeat the registration procedure. Like I said: if you stay in a hotel or travel in a group, it may not be a problem, but I would imagine that a lot of people on TB prefer to travel alone.

 

4.      Remember to ALWAYS carry your papers and your passport with you, when you go out. Yes, it’s annoying, but if you’re stopped by the Russian police, you could be asked for a bribe, or in worst case be put in jail. If you’re stopped by the police and asked to show your papers, don’t panic. If your papers are in order, there’s nothing to worry about. Police will sometimes seek out tourists at the Red Square and other big tourist attractions, but it’s usually just an attempt to get a bribe from you. Don’t pay them! Insist that your papers are ok, and that you have the right to speak to your embassy. Then they will probably let you go, because they’re not interested in arresting you (that means paperwork).

 

Some people have said to me that it’s not necessary to get registered, because it’s unlikely that anyone will check it. But if you choose not to, you risk a fine of up to 100$ (and in this case legal, official money) or even to be denied entering Russia the next time you want to go. I loved Russia and want to go back someday, so I didn’t want to take that chance. Gambling is at your own expense.

 

Annatasja says:
The visa depends on your citizenship. As a rule of thumb you can say that if your country requires Russians to get a visa, you will have to get a visa to Russia as well. The registration is a totally annoying process; especially if you're not staying for long. Technically you have to get it every time you arrive at a new place in Russia, but I would at least get it in Moscow.
Posted on: Apr 21, 2011
lulalovestotravel says:
So you have to get a visa and registration? Exactly what is the registration process? I have to obtain my registration before i leave?
Posted on: Apr 17, 2011
dyevushka says:
Great advice. Thanks!
Posted on: Apr 19, 2009
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