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Russian Federation

If you’re travelling to the Russian Federation, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information.

Get travel and medical insurance

Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.

Overview

Security status

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution.

Latest travel alert

For information relating to the ongoing security situation in Ukraine, please see our travel advice for that country. The Embassy of Ireland in the Czech Republic is accredited to Ukraine (including Crimea).

Given the volatile security situation in the North Caucasus, we strongly advise against all travel to Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan and to the eastern and southern parts of Stavropol Krai bordering Chechnya and Dagestan, including the Budyonnovsky, Levkumsky, Neftekumsky, Stepnovsky and Kursky regions. There have been three recent terrorist attacks in the city of Volgograd, in South West Russia. The bombings targeted public transport facilities, and resulted in a serious loss of life on all three occasions.

We also advise against all but essential travel to North Ossetia, Karachai-Cherkessia and Kabardino-Balkaria (including the Elbrus region). Terrorism and kidnapping are a risk in these areas.

Emergency assistance

The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.

You can contact the emergency services in the Russian Federation by dialling 112.

Our tips for Safe Travels:

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities.
  • Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly if there’s an unforeseen crisis like a natural disaster or a family emergency.
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates.
  • Read our ‘Know Before You Go’ guide.

Safety and security

Terrorism

There is a high threat from terrorism in the Russian Federation, including suicide bombings in public places so be cautious and vigilant in public places. Attacks have occurred most frequently in Moscow and in the North Caucasus.

The following incidents have occurred in the Russian Federation in recent years:

  • On 5 October 2014 a suicide bomber detonated explosives in Chechnya’s capital Grozny, and further attacks took place there on 5 December.
  • There were three bombings in the city of Volgograd in 2013.
  • On 19 July 2012, the Mufti of Kazan was injured by a car bomb in Kazan. His former deputy was shot dead in Kazan earlier that day.
  • On 24 January 2011, a bomb exploded in the international arrivals section of Domodedevo Airport in Moscow. More than 30 people were killed and many more were injured.

Political unrest

Presidential elections were held in 2012. Political rallies took place before the elections and have continued to take place at intervals. You should check local media for the latest information, remain vigilant, and avoid any areas where large scale protests are planned or taking place.

Photography

Photographing of any military installation, establishment or site of strategic importance is prohibited; this includes airports and metro stations. People who don’t observe this rule are likely to have their cameras confiscated, be detained for questioning and possibly arrested.

Crime

The vast majority of visits to the Russian Federation go smoothly. However, you should be vigilant at all times and also watch out for pickpockets and street crime, especially in large cities. 

  • You must carry your passport and migration card at all times in the Russian Federation. We would advise you to keep your passport in a safe place on your person, and not to leave it in jacket pockets or in handbags and/ or backpacks in case of theft. You should also leave a copy of your passport, visa, and travel and insurance documents with family or friends at home.
  • If you are stopped by police officers, always insist on seeing ID.
  • Racially-motivated attacks by racist groups do occur in the Russian Federation. If you’re of Asian, Afro-Caribbean or Southern European descent, we advise you to take extra care. These attacks have also been known to take place on or around 20 April (Hitler’s birthday).
  • Avoid openly carrying expensive items, or anything that might easily identify you as a tourist. Don’t show large sums of money in public and don’t use ATMs after dark, especially if you are alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business.
  • Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places such as internet cafes, train and bus stations. Busy areas, such as railway concourses, particularly in St Petersburg, are used by thieves, who specifically target tourists.
  • Avoid dark and unlit streets and stairways, arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible.
  • Drink-spiking leading to robbery, violence and/or abuse does happen. Unconscious victims are often left outside, which can be life threatening in the winter months. Buy your own drinks and keep sight of them at all times.

Reporting a crime

If you’re a victim of a crime while in the Russian Federation, report it to the local police immediately. And you can contact us at the Irish Embassy in Moscow if you need help.

Local laws and customs

Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them. Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or even illegal.

Illegal drugs

Illegal drug use (no matter what the drug) carries stiff penalties, including long prison terms for possession of drugs.

LGBT

Homosexuality is legal in the Russian Federation, but there is still a degree of intolerance among some sections of the population; be careful about public displays of affection. A law banning the promotion of “non-traditional sexual relations” entered into force in June 2013; it is unclear how this law will be applied, but it includes tougher penalties for non-Russians including arrest, fines and deportation.

Customs

You can import up to 10,000 US dollars (or equivalent) into the country and export foreign currency up to the equivalent of 10,000 US dollars from the Russian Federation without declaring it.

If you complete a declaration make sure the form is stamped by a Customs official at your port of entry, otherwise your foreign currency and non-declared items may be confiscated when you leave the Russian Federation and you may be fined.

There are strict regulations governing the export from the Russian Federation of antiques, icons, medals, artwork and other items of historical significance. This includes modern art and even posters if they are particularly rare or valuable. You must get approval from the Ministry of Culture.

For further information visit the website of the Russian Federal Customs Service.

Dual nationality

Legislation came into force on 4 August 2014 regarding Russian nationals who are also citizens of other countries. Russian passport holders must inform the Russian authorities of the other passports they hold. If you hold both Irish and Russian citizenship you should take legal advice and/ or contact the relevant Russian authority (the nearest Russian Embassy if you are not in the Russian Federation or your local Migration office if you are in the Russian Federation) to find out how the legislation might impact you.

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months after the expiry date of your visa.

Transport

Driving

If you’re planning to drive in the Russian Federation, you should be extremely careful. The harsh winter from November to March can make road conditions very difficult, particularly outside towns and cities.

If you want to drive:

  • Bring your full Irish driving license and international driving permit, and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and you risk being detained, fined or banned from driving if caught. There is a zero tolerance policy on drink-driving in the Russian Federation
  • Be aware of the Russian Federation’s traffic laws, such as speed limits
  • Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you’re stopped at traffic lights

Hiring a vehicle

If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.

Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).

Pedestrians

During the harsh winter months pavements can become extremely icy so good walking shoes are essential.

Taxis

If you want to travel by taxi while in the Russian Federation, we advise you to book an official taxi service through your hotel and agree on the price of the journey in advance.

Air safety

If you intend to travel to or within the Russian Federation, avoid travelling on airlines that fall under the EU operating ban.

Health

Travel Insurance

We can’t pay for emergency medical repatriation, repatriation of remains, or for expenses as a result of a personal emergency while you are abroad. If you buy an appropriate travel insurance policy, these costs will be covered, provided you haven’t broken the terms and conditions.

Buying comprehensive travel insurance can save you and your family a lot of money if something goes wrong. It will also ensure that you get the medical attention you need, when you need it. Hospital bills can quickly run into thousands of euro, and a medical evacuation back to Ireland can cost thousands more.

Not all policies are the same, and the cheapest one might be cheap for a reason. Make sure your policy covers all the activities you plan to do on your trip. Insurance Ireland recommend that you purchase a policy that provides a minimum medical cover of €1 million.

Emergency expenses

Your policy should cover:

  • All medical care abroad, including evacuation by air ambulance, or other emergency procedures, and any other costs associated with an unexpected longer stay.
  • Your entire trip, from departure to return. Consider an annual multi-trip policy if you’re making more than one trip in the year.   
  • 24-hour emergency service and assistance.
  • Personal liability cover (in case you’re sued for causing injury or damaging property).
  • Lost and stolen possessions.
  • Cancellation and curtailment.
  • Any extra activities you intend to do that are excluded from standard policies (e.g. water sport activities such as jet skiing or other extreme sports).

Exclusions: You should know most insurance policies will not cover drink or drug-related incidents.

Additional information

Visas

Irish citizens require a visa to enter the Russian Federation. Those who do not comply with Russian visa laws can be subject to arrest, fines, and/or deportation. Russian authorities will not allow an Irish citizen with an expired visa to depart the country, effectively obliging the person to remain in the Russian Federation at their own expense until local authorities grant an exit visa. It should be noted that the ability of the Embassy to intervene in such cases is extremely limited. It is very important that all Irish citizens travelling to the Russian Federation carefully check the validity of their visa, and pay particular attention to the expiry date, as it can differ from the dates of travel indicated in your visa application.

Migration cards

You’ll usually be asked to complete a migration card on the plane before you arrive in the Russian Federation. Alternatively, you may be asked to complete a migration card on reaching Passport Control at some airports.

One part of the card is submitted to Immigration on arrival and you must keep the other part of the card for the duration of your stay in the Russian Federation – you’ll need to show it when checking into hotels, when departing the Russian Federation and/or if asked for proof of identity by the police.

You must complete a new migration card each time you enter the Russian Federation, even if you have a multi-entry visa. Losing your migration card could delay your departure from the Russian Federation and you may be fined.

Registration

You must also register your presence in the Russian Federation if you’re staying for more than seven days. If staying in a hotel, the hotel should organise this for you. If staying privately, you must be registered by the owner of the property at the nearest branch of the Federal Migration Service (FMS).

Passports

You must have your passport and migration card with you at all times while in the Russian Federation.

You can get more information on entry/exit requirements and immigration information for the Russian Federation, please contact the Embassy of the Russian Federation to Ireland.

Water

Tap water is not drinkable throughout the Russian Federation but bottled mineral water is widely available.

Banking

The rouble is the unit of currency in the Russian Federation. If you want to buy roubles in the country, we advise that you take euro or US dollars to change. Please note:

  • All notes should be in good condition
  • You should only change money at banks, hotels and recognised exchange kiosks
  • You will need to show your passport and visa to change money
  • It is an offence to change money from street traders
  • It is illegal to pay directly with dollars or euro
  • Most hotels, restaurants and larger shops accept credit cards, but smaller shops do not. ATMs exist in most major cities
  • Travellers’ cheques are not widely accepted