Top events in Russia

October
01

Russia's answer to Wimbledon captures the city's attention for seven days in October.

November
04

A public holiday with parades and patriotic events to commemorate the uprising that freed Moscow from the Polish-Lithuanian occupation on 4...

January
07

A massive religious festival featuring a televised speech by the president and various midnight mass services. The Christ the Saviour Cathedral...

The Kremlin, Rostov
Pin This
Open Media Gallery

The Kremlin, Rostov

© www.123rf.com / Vitaly Titov

Russia Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

17,100,000 sq km (6,602,347 sq miles).

Population

144,300,000 (2016).

Population density

8.4 per sq km.

Capital

Moscow.

Government

Federal republic.

Head of state

President Vladimir Putin since 2012.

Head of government

Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin since 2020.

Electricity

220 volts AC, 50Hz. Russia uses a standard European plug with two round pins.

Russia is at once breathtaking and baffling. Winston Churchill’s much-quoted line that the world’s largest nation represented “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma” is as true today as it was back then.

Monumental in every respect, it’s a land where burnished imperial splendour coexists with icy Siberian tundra, where timeworn Soviet-era monuments backdrop uber-hip urban cultures and where everything from the ruling party downwards functions in its own, impenetrably Russian, way.

The west of the country draws the most visitor attention, thanks to the presence of two extraordinary cities. St Petersburg and Moscow serve up sweeping postcard sights by the dozen. Moscow is the rapidly beating heart of the “New Russia,” where Asia and Europe combine to create a boisterous, enigmatic metropolis on a grand scale. St Petersburg, meanwhile, with its living film-set of palaces, cathedrals and waterways, is the grandest and most European of Russia’s cities, yet still retains a deeply complex character.

Exploration beyond these two main hubs, however, is well advised. The Golden Ring, a collection of ancient towns northeast of Moscow, still has plenty of period architecture and is easily accessed from the capital. By cruising along the mighty River Volga, meanwhile, it’s possible to travel south towards the Caspian Sea and see the country beyond its increasingly westernised veneer. And those heading east, into Siberia, will find a land of varied, often sublime natural beauty. From Lake Baikal to the old imperial city of rkutsk, and from the mountains of the Altai and the shamans of Tuva, Siberia has many secrets.

A combination of the above is drawing an increasing number of tourists to the Russian Federation – that it remains as obscure and mysterious as ever is all part of the charm. As the poet Fyodor Tyutchev once said: “Russia cannot be understood.”

Travel Advice

The authorities in the countries bordering Russia set and enforce entry rules. Before you travel, check the foreign travel advice for any countries you plan to travel through. If you need consular assistance contact that country’s British embassy, high commission or consulate. Consider checking with your transport provider or travel company that your passport and other travel documents meet their entry requirements.

Entering the UK

Check what you must do to return to England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

Leaving Russia by air

There are currently no direct flights operating between the UK and Russia.

The UK Air Safety List (ASL) identifies foreign airlines which do not fulfil the necessary international safety standards, and are banned from operating commercial air services to, from, and within the United Kingdom. Its purpose is to help UK travellers to make informed decisions on which air carriers to use when flying overseas. We advise UK nationals travelling overseas to take account of the UK ASL when considering which carriers to fly with. From 8 April 2022, all Russian-certified air carriers were included on the UK ASL. The list is maintained by the Department for Transport, published by the UK Civil Aviation Authority. UK travellers seeking alternative air routes or other means of travel, e.g. road or rail, should consult local travel providers.

If you are in Russia, it is not possible to fly directly to the UK, or via EU countries, and should amend any travel plans accordingly. However, there are limited numbers of commercial airlines operating indirect flights via the Middle East, Serbia and Turkey. Check the latest information with your airline or travel provider.

The full list of countries who have closed their airspace for Russian aircraft has been published by the Russian aviation authorities (available in Russian only. The website may not be supported on all devices).

On 24 February the Russian authorities announced restrictions on domestic flights to a number of airports in southern Russia, with disruption to internal flights to and from Moscow and other cities. Currently Anapa, Belgorod, Bryansk, Voronezh, Gelendzhik, Krasnodar, Kursk, Lipetsk, Rostov-on-don, Simferopol and Elista are affected. Check the latest information with your airline or travel provider. The Russian aviation authorities have published information about the affected airports (in Russian). See Safety and security and Travel in Russia

Travelling by road

See also the road travel section for information about travelling by road in Russia.

Travelling from Russia into Latvia

If you are planning to travel into Latvia, check the travel advice page for Latvia which includes information on entry requirements, including COVID-19 requirements.

See the Latvian Government website for information about crossing the border.

If you are planning to travel by bus, check the section below about international bus routes.

Travelling from Russia into Finland

If you are planning to travel into Finland, check the travel advice page for Finland which includes information on entry requirements, including Covid requirements.

See the Finnish Border Guard website for information about crossing the border. A train service is no longer available when travelling from Russia to Finland.

If you are planning to travel by bus, check the section below about international bus routes.

Travelling from Russia into Estonia

If you are planning to travel into Estonia, check the travel advice page for Estonia which includes information on entry requirements, including Covid requirements.

If you are planning to cross into Estonia by road at the Narva-1 Border crossing point, see the Go Swift Queue Management Service.

The Estonian Police and Border Guard Board website has further information about crossing the border.

If you are planning to travel by bus, check the section below about international bus routes.

Travelling from Russia into Lithuania

If you are planning to travel into Lithuania, check the travel advice page for Lithuania which includes information on entry requirements, including Covid requirements.

If you are planning to cross into Lithuania by road at the Kybartai border crossing point, see the Lithuanian State Border Crossing website.

If you are planning to travel by bus, check the section below about international bus routes.

Travelling from Russia into Norway

If you are planning to travel into Norway, check the travel advice page for Norway which includes information on entry requirements, including Covid requirements.

The Storskog-Borisoglebsk border crossing is approximately three hours’ drive from Murmansk in the north of Norway.

International bus routes

A number of bus companies operate international routes, including those listed below. You should check directly with the companies for availability of buses, timetables and tickets as the situation may change quickly.

Ecolines

This company operates buses to Riga (Latvia), Tallinn (Estonia), Helsinki (Finland), Vilnius (Lithuania)

Departures from:

  • Moscow, Severnye Vorota bus station, Dybenko Str, 7, bld. 1
  • Saint Petersburg, Naberezhnaya Obvodnogo Kanala, 36

Contact details:

  • Moscow Oblast, MKAD, 32 km, TC “Shelkoviy Put”, 1-st floor (suburban electric train, station “Bitsa” [Битца]). Phone: +7495 978 0281; +375 44 504 4286 (only Viber, Telegram, WhatsApp – only chat), email: moskva@ecolines.ru. Office hours: Monday to Sunday, 2pm to 9:30pm

  • Pskov, Vokzalnaya Str., 26. Phone: +7 8112 735055, email: eco@ecolines.ru. Office hours: Monday to Friday, 11am to 1pm

  • Saint Petersburg, Naberezhnaya Obvodnogo Kanala, 42. Phone: +7 812 386 7979; +375 44 5044286 (only Viber, Telegram, WhatsApp – only chat), email: eco@ecolines.ru. Office hours: Monday to Sunday, 9am to 9pm

  • Saint Petersburg, Pod’ezdnoy Pereulok, 3. Phone: +7 812 325 2152; +375 44 5044286 (only Viber, Telegram, WhatsApp - only chat), email: eco@ecolines.ru. Office hours: Monday to Sunday, 9am to 8pm

Baltic Shuttle

Operates buses to Tallinn, Estonia.

Departures from:

  • St Petersburg: Coach Station: 36, Naberezhnaya Obvodnogo Kanala
  • Pskov: Departures on Saturdays only at 10:35 from Pskov Coach Station, 21 Vokzalnaya Street

Contact details:

  • Tallinn: Baltic Shuttle OÜ, Tartu mnt 65-26, 10115 Tallinn, Estonia. Phone Estonia: +372 565-630-56, phone Russia: +7 969 722-18-18, e-mail: info@balticshuttle.ee

  • St Petersburg: St Peterburg, Ligovsky Prospect, 87 office 607. Phone/fax: +7 (812) 655-50-54 +7 (969) 722-18-18, e-mail: vtallinn@piligrim.com.ru

Lux Express

Operates buses to Tallinn, Helsinki, Vilnius, Minsk, Tartu. It has been reported that Lux Express are no longer providing a service between Russia and Latvia.

Departures from:

  • St. Petersburg Coach Station, Naberezhnaya Obvodnovo Kanala 36

Contact details:

  • Customer service office AO ”EUROLINES”. Phone: +7 (812) 424 70 89, address: Mitrofanievskoe Shosse 2-1, St. Petersburg NB St. Petersburg sales office is temporarily closed: buy tickets online

Coronavirus travel health

The number of COVID cases across the country is currently increasing. The situation can change quickly and varies across the country, particularly in smaller cities and rural areas or remote locations. Check the latest announcements from local authorities before travelling. These are available in Russian – click on a specific region on the map for local COVID restrictions.

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Russia on the TravelHealthPro website.

See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

International travel

See Travelling by air in the Returning to the UK section.

Entry and borders

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Russia.

Be prepared for your plans to change

A full list of certified clinics and laboratories certified to perform PCR COVID-19 tests is available online (only in Russian).

No travel is risk-free during COVID-19. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.

If you test positive for COVID-19 while in Russia, you will be required to self-isolate until you have recovered and tested negative for COVID-19 on a PCR test. You should comply with any additional screening measures put in place by the authorities.

Plan ahead and make sure you:

  • can access money
  • understand what your insurance will cover
  • can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned

Travel in Russia

The Federal Government has delegated responsibility for introduction or relaxation of restrictions to the regional authorities. Different restrictions may be in force in different regions. You should follow regional advice. Check the latest announcements from local authorities before travelling. These are available in Russian at https://xn--80aesfpebagmfblc0a.xn--p1ai/information/ – click on a specific region on the map for local COVID restrictions.

The latest advice for Moscow is available on the Mayor’s website. For Saint Petersburg, advice can be found on the City Government’s website.

Following widespread reports of military activity in Ukraine, on 24 February the Russian authorities announced restrictions on domestic flights to a number of airports in southern Russia, with disruption to internal flights to and from Moscow and other cities. Currently Anapa, Belgorod, Bryansk, Voronezh, Gelendzhik, Krasnodar, Kursk, Lipetsk, Rostov-on-don, Simferopol and Elista are affected. Check the latest information with your airline or travel provider. The Russian aviation authorities have published information about the affected airports (in Russian). See Safety and security

Public places and services

Social distancing of 1.5 metres may still be recommended at certain locations.

In some locations QR codes may be required to access venues such as museums, theatres, stadiums, shopping centres or restaurants. QR codes are typically issued to those either vaccinated with a Russian vaccine, recently recovered from COVID-19 or with a recent negative PCR test. Requirements and procedures for obtaining QR codes vary depending on the region. Foreign nationals may not be required to have a QR code if they present a documentary proof of full vaccination by a Russian vaccine.

Accommodation

Hotels in Russia remain open.

Healthcare in Russia

If you show any symptoms of coronavirus, such as respiratory illness or a temperature, you and your cohabitants may be required to self-isolate even if you haven’t been tested.

From 2 July 2021, all cases of respiratory illness in Moscow will be treated as high probability COVID cases. All patients displaying symptoms of a respiratory illness will have their PCR and rapid antigen tests taken and need to self-isolate until their PCR test is negative.

For contact details for English speaking doctors visit our list of healthcare providers.
Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health.

View Health for further details on healthcare in Russia.

Finance

For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Further information

If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.

Tell a friend or relative about your travel plans before you go. Give them some idea of your itinerary (if possible), and an emergency contact number.

Check with your mobile phone provider to make sure your phone will work in Russia. Store useful numbers in your phone, such as the British Embassy (+7 495 956 7200) and the local emergency service number (112). To get a local SIM card, you will need to show your passport.

There have been multiple reports of intensive security checks on foreign nationals at Russian border crossings upon entry/exit. Travellers may be subject to the detailed questioning, taking of fingerprints and DNA swab tests, and requests to switch on electronic devises for content checking.

Read our foreign travel checklist for more information and advice on preparing for a safe trip.

Russian regions adjoining Ukraine are likely to be subject to increased security activity by the Russian police and military, such as road blocks and ID checks. There have been reports of explosions and fires in areas near the border. You should avoid travelling in regions adjoining the Ukraine/Russia border.

You may be subject to ID checks by the local police . You should keep your passport with you at all times.

Travel from Ukraine

If you have travelled into Russia from Ukraine and are in need of consular assistance, you should contact +7 495 956 7200 or send an enquiry via the web contact form.

Crime

Most visits to Russia have been trouble-free, but petty crime does happen. You should follow the same personal security procedures as you would anywhere else.

Be alert to the possibility of mugging, pick pocketing and theft in the main tourist areas and around the main railway concourses, as well as from vehicles or hotel rooms. Don’t leave your bags unattended. Avoid openly carrying expensive items or anything that might easily identify you as a tourist. Avoid walking about late at night alone. Be wary of groups of women and children who beg. Don’t agree to look after possessions of people you don’t know, and never agree to go to a bar or a club with someone you have just met.

Look after your passport at all times, especially in major transport hubs and busy areas. Passports have been reported stolen or lost from British nationals when in the airports in Moscow. Be particularly vigilant when passing through the airports, particularly in the baggage collection area and outside the arrivals hall.

The spiking of drinks does happen and can lead to robbery, violence and/or abuse. 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.

Official looking taxis can be unlicensed, and British nationals travelling in them have been the victims of crime. Taxi apps are a useful way to call a registered taxi. You can also ask your hotel to get a taxi for you or to give you the number of a reputable company. Don’t flag down what may appear to be an official taxi or share a taxi with strangers, as you are putting yourself at risk. Where possible you should agree the fare before getting into the taxi or check that the meter is working.

Foreign visitors are not usually the targets of violent crime. However, in St Petersburg there have been reports of street crime where tourists have been specifically targeted. These crimes are carried out by well organised gangs.

The police do not need a reason in order to stop, question or detain individuals. Bogus police officers have harassed and robbed tourists. If you’re stopped, always insist on seeing identification, and report harassment or crimes to the British Embassy.

Scams

Take care if you are using a dating service. A number of British nationals have been the victims of fraud. Never send money or buy items for anyone you have not met in person.

Be wary of sending money via untraceable transfer services. There have been instances where British nationals have lost money by sending money to an unknown recipient without checking they were genuine.

Political situation

Political rallies and demonstrations occur in cities and towns across Russia, usually with notice and permission from the authorities. Unauthorised demonstrations can lead to a robust response from the Russian authorities, occasionally leading to violence. Under Russian law, actions by one person can be described as a protest. Although no authorization for a single-person protest is required by Russian law, this still can be subject to repercussions by Russian authorities.

Following President Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine, there have been multiple reports of anti-war protests across Russia.

Several oblasts have declared a state of emergency due to a reported influx of people from non-Government controlled areas of Ukraine.

Check the local media for the latest information, be vigilant, and avoid any demonstrations.

Race

Most visitors experience no difficulties but racial discrimination may be an issue and might vary according to location. People of Asian or Afro-Caribbean descent may attract unwanted attention in public places and should take care, particularly when travelling late at night.

Local travel

Consular support is severely limited in parts of Russia due to the security situation. The North Caucasus remains an unstable and potentially dangerous region. The Russian authorities take a particularly strict attitude towards security, as well as compliance with visa and registration rules. Short-term travel restrictions are sometimes applied in relation to ongoing security operations. These are publicised at very short notice, if at all.

If you travel to these parts of Russia against FCDO advice, you are taking a serious risk. The ability of the FCDO and the British Embassy in Moscow to help in the case of an emergency will be severely limited.

Road travel

See Returning to the UK for information about leaving Russia by road.

The AA and the RAC offer information and advice on driving in Russia, including information on compulsory documentation and equipment. If you’re planning to hire a car, check with your car hire company for information on their requirements before you travel.

You will need to have a 1968 International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in Russia. 1949 IDPs previously issued by the UK may no longer be accepted in Russia. You can only get IDPs over the counter from 2,500 UK Post Offices. You will not be able to buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel.

A green card is proof that you have vehicle insurance when driving abroad. You need to carry a green card to drive in Russia.

You should be aware that travel between cities can take a long time given the distance, heavy traffic in big cities, and poor road conditions. Don’t drive alone at night or sleep in your vehicle on the side of the road. Don’t pick up hitchhikers.

Road safety is poor. According to statistics published by the Directorate for Road Traffic Safety there were over 120,000 road traffic accidents in Russia in 2021, causing over 13,000 deaths and over 151,000 injuries. You should be vigilant when driving, take account of weather conditions, and consider limiting or avoiding driving at night.

It is common practice for traffic police to stop motorists for spot checks. There is a zero tolerance policy towards drink driving.

In order to drive a vehicle into Russia, you will need to declare the vehicle with the customs authority at the point of entry. You can bring a vehicle into Russia without paying import taxes for a maximum period of 1 year.

Contact the Russian Embassy if you have more detailed questions about bringing a vehicle into Russia. The British Embassy is unable to offer help to those attempting to bring vehicles into Russia without the correct documentation.

Rail travel

All railway stations have airport-style security. All bags will be scanned and passengers will need to go through detector arches.

If you’re travelling by overnight train in a sleeping compartment, store valuables in the container under the bed or seat. Don’t agree to look after the luggage of a fellow traveller or allow it to be stored in your compartment.

Don’t leave your sleeping compartment unoccupied, as some compartments only have a simple lock on the sliding door. On some trains there may be an additional security device, which can be attached to the fitted handle/lock unit. There may also be a steel switch at head-height on the door panel which, when pulled down, prevents the closed door from being slid open.

Air travel

Some British nationals (and others) arriving at Russian airports have been stopped and questioned extensively by security personnel. Some have been held for up to 4 hours for further identity checks, and then they have usually been allowed to continue their journeys. Sometimes security personnel have asked for access to data on phones and other electronic devices. This could happen to you, whether or not you have a visa or residence permit. You should:

  • tell a family member, friend or colleague about your travel plans, and explain that getting through the arrival process might take much longer than usual
  • if you are stopped in this way, remain calm and avoid any confrontation with security personnel

See Returning to the UK for information about leaving Russia by air.

The Civil Aviation Authority UK Air Safety List (ASL) identifies foreign airlines which do not meet international safety standards. These airlines are banned from operating commercial air services to, from, and within the UK. Since 8 April 2022, all Russian-certified air carriers are included on the UK ASL. You should:

  • use the list to inform your decisions on which air carriers to use when flying overseas.
  • consult local travel providers to find alternative air routes or other means of travel, eg road or rail

The volume and quantity of liquids, gels, aerosols, creams or pastes you can carry in your hand luggage when going through airport screening facilities throughout Russia is limited. For more information, refer to the Federal Air Transport Agency (in Russian) or consult your airline.

Disabled access

People with disabilities may face difficulties in accessing certain public areas as disabled facilities vary across Russia, and can be poor or even non-existent in places.

Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Russia.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out more about the global threat from terrorism.

Although these have mainly been by Islamist and rebel groups in the North Caucasus, attacks in other major cities and regions can’t be ruled out. Previous attacks, including in Moscow and St Petersburg, have seen large numbers of casualties, and Russian aviation has also been targeted:

  • in April 2017, a suicide attack on the St Petersburg metro resulted in 15 deaths and many injuries
  • in October 2015, a Russian flight from Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt to St Petersburg crashed in North Sinai, killing all on board. Russian authorities stated the crash was caused by an explosive device on board the plane

Since December 2017, Russian security forces have disrupted several plots in major Russian cities, including Moscow, St Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod and Stavropol. These plots are reported to have targeted public transport and crowded places. Terrorist groups, including Daesh and al-Qaeda aligned groups, continue to call for attacks in Russia.

Although there’s no indication that British nationals or interests have been specific targets, attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. You should be vigilant in all public places, including major transport hubs, tourist sites and crowded areas; and particularly where access isn’t controlled, for example at open-air events and markets. Previous attacks have targeted transport infrastructure.

In 2015, Daesh announced the establishment of an affiliate in the North Caucasus, and many rebel leaders announced they had switched their allegiance to Daesh.
Daesh North Caucasus has claimed responsibility for a number of small-scale attacks (mainly in Dagestan), targeting law enforcement personnel.

While the number of casualties from ongoing violence in the North Caucasus has reduced in recent years, there continues to be frequent attacks and skirmishes between rebel groups and Russian forces in the republics of Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria. The threat from terrorism could rise quickly in relation to any escalation of violence in the North Caucasus.

Security services conduct frequent counter-terrorism operations in the North Caucasus and elsewhere in Russia. These can be at short notice and involve restrictions on travel.

There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at all times.

Kidnaps

A number of western nationals, including British nationals, have previously been kidnapped in the North Caucasus and some have been killed by their captors. Those engaged in humanitarian aid work, journalism or business sectors are viewed as legitimate targets. If you’re kidnapped, the reason for your presence is unlikely to serve as a protection or secure your safe release.

The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking. The Terrorism Act (2000) also makes payments to terrorists illegal.

This page has information on travelling to Russia.

This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Russia set and enforce entry rules. If you’re unsure how Russia’s entry requirements apply to you, contact its UK embassy, high commission or consulate.

Entry restrictions

Non-Russian nationals must produce a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours before their arrival in Russia. You may enter Russia by air, sea or land via any country. You should check with your airline before you travel to keep up to date with the latest requirements.

Currently there are a limited number of air links and rail routes to Russia due to sanctions.

All foreign travellers arriving in Russia

The FCDO advises against all travel to Russia.

All foreign passengers should complete a travel form prior to arriving in Russia. The forms are usually handed out to passengers by cabin crew on arriving flights. The template is available at the Rospotrebnadzor website (only in Russian).

The following requirements apply regardless of vaccination status.

The Russian government requires all arriving foreign nationals to carry a negative COVID-19 (PCR) test result, dated within 48 hours before arrival in Russia. If a passenger arrives in Russia without a negative PCR test, they should have the test done within 48 hours from their arrival and self-isolate until they receive a negative PCR test. Airlines may have different requirements, you should check with them before travelling.

Additional requirements apply to foreigners who enter Russia from the Eurasian Economic Union countries (Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan) and some CIS countries (Azerbaijan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) by air. Passengers arriving from these countries are required to receive a negative PCR COVID-19 test via the “Travelling without COVID-19” app and present the test result on the smartphone upon arrival. This does not apply to transit passengers travelling to Russia through the above countries. Transit passengers are required to present a certificate for a negative PCR test, with the result being within 48 hours before their arrival in Russia and a proof of travel (tickets and/or boarding passes) for the entire route.

You should check the specific COVID-19 test requirements airlines have in place in advance of your flight. Airlines may refuse boarding if their requirements are not met.

Testing/screening on arrival

Passengers arriving by air may be temperature-checked and/or randomly selected for additional PCR testing on arrival. No prior arrangements are required. Passengers should follow guidance of the Russian authorities upon landing.

For passengers travelling out of Russia, express COVID-19 tests can be carried out at some airports. In Moscow, express COVID-19 tests are available in Sheremetyevo, Domodedovo and Vnukovo airports. They may need to be booked in advance and pre-paid. In St Petersburg, express COVID tests can be carried out at Pulkovo airport.

A list of certified Russian laboratories is available at the official website of the Russian state regulator Rospotrebnadzor (only in Russian).

Quarantine requirements

All foreign travellers arriving in Russia have to present a certificate confirming a negative PCR test result, taken within 48 hours before their time of their arrival. The certificate needs to be in English or Russian.

If you’re fully vaccinated

The entry requirements for Russia apply regardless of vaccination status.

Proof of vaccination status

You do not need to present proof that you have been fully vaccinated to enter Russia.

If you’re not fully vaccinated

The entry requirements for Russia apply regardless of vaccination status.

If you’ve had COVID-19 in the past year

The entry requirements for Russia apply regardless of your COVID-19 recovery status.

Children and young people

Children of all ages need to obtain and present a negative COVID-19 (PCR) test result, dated within 48 hours before arrival in Russia.

If you’re transiting through Russia

Travelling between Russia and Belarus

By air: British nationals flying to Russia from Belarus or to Belarus from Russia are subject to immigration control. If you’re transiting Russia when flying to/from Belarus, please contact the nearest Russian embassy or consulate to check if a transit visa is needed.

By road: There are no immigration check points on the land border between Russia and Belarus so foreigners (including British nationals) who cross the land border between Russia and Belarus will have no stamps in their passports and will be deemed to have entered illegally. If you’re planning on driving to Russia, you’ll need to take an alternative route through a different country.

By rail: If you’re planning on travelling by rail between the two countries, you should contact your train or tour operator when you make your booking to seek their advice to avoid entering Russia without passing through immigration and thus being deemed to have entered Russia illegally. You should also consider contacting your nearest Russian embassy or consulate for advice on the latest situation for rail travellers.

You should make sure you have all the necessary visas for the duration of your travel.

Check your passport and travel documents before you travel

You should check with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Passport validity

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

It’s not possible to enter Russia using a visa in an expired passport, even if carried with a new, valid passport. You will need to either apply for a visa transfer or for a new visa.

Further details are available from the Russian Embassy.

If you’re travelling on a British passport issued since January 2017, you should make sure you’ve signed your passport before you travel. Some British nationals who haven’t signed their new passports have been denied entry into Russia.

Visas

You’ll need to get a visa from the Russian Embassy before you travel. You should check with the Russian Embassy on the processing time and availability of fast track service.

As part of the visa application process, all applicants based in the UK aged 12 or over will need to visit a visa application centre to submit biometric data (scanned fingerprints). These are located in London, Manchester and Edinburgh. The Russian government requires biometric fingerprinting from all foreign nationals, including British nationals, when entering Russia.

From 25 August 2021, the Russian Government introduced a simplified application procedure for tourist visas. Visitors can now use a booking with a registered Russian hotel, or confirmation from the registered Russian tourist agency to apply for a single, double or multi-entry tourist visa up to six months. The federal registry is available online (in Russian only). Single entry visas are for the entire period of the hotel booking. Multi-entry tourist visa holders may remain in Russia for up to 90 cumulative days out of the 180 days of visa validity period.

From 1 September 2021, British nationals, who have Russian nationals as their immediate family members, can apply for multi-entry private visas to Russia for up to one year. The visa holders can remain in Russia without restriction for the entire visa validity period. Immediate family members include spouse, parents (adoptive parents), children (adopted children), spouses of children, siblings and step-siblings, grandparents and grandchildren. Applicants will need a notarised hard copy of a letter of invitation from the Russian family member. Family members other than spouses, children and parents applying for a private multi-entry visa over three months will also need to have an HIV test certificate. A British parent who has a child with their Russian partner can also apply for a private visa. The applicant should present a hard copy of the letter of invitation from the Russian parent and the birth certificate of the child.

On receiving your visa you should check the details carefully including the validity dates and passport number to make sure they are correct. Make sure you’re aware of the terms and conditions attached to your visa before you travel. You should adhere to the validity and conditions of your visa while you’re in Russia, as the authorities strictly enforce all visa and immigration laws.

Overstaying your visa may result in fines, court hearings, deportation and a possible ban from re-entry.

Cruise ships

Cruise or ferry passengers can stay in Russia for 72 hours without a visa if they have booked tours through officially licensed companies. You are free to use any authorised travel agency, not just cruise ship tour companies. Use recognised cruise operators with established safety records.

Cities where this applies are:

  • St Petersburg
  • Kaliningrad
  • Vladivostok
  • Sochi
  • Vyborg
  • Korsakov (Sakhalin Island)
  • Novorossiysk

If your passport is lost/stolen while ashore, you need to obtain a police report, travel to the British Embassy in Moscow for a replacement Emergency Travel Document, and get an exit visa to leave Russia.

If this is not done within the 72-hour visa free period, you will face a court hearing which will most likely result in a fine, deportation and a possible ban from re-entry.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

If your UK passport is lost, stolen or expires while you are in Russia, you will need to get a UK Emergency Travel Document (ETD). ETDs are accepted for entry, landside transit and exit from Russia only if they contain a valid Russian visa. The Russian authorities will only put a visa for Russia in an ETD in limited circumstances. If your UK passport is lost or stolen, and you do not also hold a Russian passport, you will need to obtain a police report from the nearest police station and then apply for an exit visa to leave Russia. Contact a local migration office in Russia to find out if a visa can be issued or seek advice from the British Embassy Moscow or British Consulate General Yekaterinburg. If your UK passport is lost or stolen in a third country, and you need to obtain an ETD to enter Russia, you need to check with the Russian embassy or consulate on the required length of ETD validity and then apply for a Russian visa with them. UK ETDs without a visa are accepted for airside transit only. You should check with your travel company or airline that transit zones will be available at the airports of your planned route.

Immigration cards

You must sign an immigration card every time you arrive in Russia. This will be given to you at passport control. The card is in 2 identical parts. One part will be retained by the Immigration Officer. You should keep the other part safe as your departure from Russia could be delayed. Hotels, hostels or another receiving entity will not accept guests without an immigration card. The amount of foreign currency you can exchange for Russian roubles at local banks may be limited if you fail to present an immigration card.

Customs

You can import and export foreign currency up to USD 10,000 (or equivalent) without declaring it. It is currently not possible to export foreign currency in the amount over USD 10,000 (or equivalent).

If you import over USD 10,000 (or equivalent) or certain categories of goods (eg electrical items, jewellery, antiques, valuable musical instruments), you must complete a customs declaration form.

If you wish to import certain advanced electronic items (eg GPS instruments), you must get an operating license from the Russian authorities before you travel. Check with your nearest Russian embassy or consulate for advice before your departure.

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 Russia and you may be fined.

Keep receipts of any purchases in case you need to present them when you leave Russia.

There are strict regulations covering the export of antiques, artworks (including modern art and posters if they’re particularly rare or valuable) and items of historical significance bought in Russia or imported to Russia from abroad. You’ll need an export permit from the Ministry of Culture to export this type of material and each item must be declared at the point of departure. Don’t attempt to import or export items that require permits without the relevant paperwork as this is a serious offence.

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

Passport checks

You should carry your passport with you at all times. A copy will not be sufficient. Police carry out random checks, especially during periods of heightened security. Failure to produce your passport when asked may lead to a detention for up to 48 hours or a fine.

Visitor registration

You’ll need to register with the local authorities if you’re staying anywhere for more than 7 working days. Your hotel will do this automatically. If you’re staying in a rented or private apartment, it is your host’s responsibility to carry this out. However, it is your responsibility to ensure this is done. You will need to produce evidence of the registration at passport control on departure from Russia. You can find more information on the website of the Russian Interior Ministry’s General Administration for Migration Issues (only accessible in Russia, in Russian).

Health examinations for foreign workers

From 29 December 2021, all foreigners working in Russia are required to undergo regular comprehensive health examinations, including tests for sexually transmitted diseases and chest X-rays. The health examination also relates to family members, including children aged 6 and over. You will also have to submit fingerprints and other biometric data. The initial checks need to be completed within 30 days from your arrival in Russia. The new rules also apply to those on highly qualified specialist (HQS) visas. The procedure and the contact details for the service providers in Moscow are available at the official website of Moscow government (only accessible in Russia, in Russian). Check with your employers on the latest requirements.

Drugs

Don’t become involved with drugs. You can expect a long sentence for possession of even small quantities of drugs, regardless of whether they are ‘hard’ or ‘soft’.

Photography

Photographing any military establishment or site of strategic importance (including airports) is banned. There may not be warning signs in locations where prohibitions are in place. You are likely to be detained for questioning or arrested if you are caught.

You’ll need to get official permission from the Russian aviation authority (in Russian) before using any unmanned aircraft systems (drones) in Russian airspace. You must inform them of the flight route at least 24 hours in advance and keep in regular contact with them before and during the flight. Failure to do so will result in a fine.

LGBT+ travellers

Public attitudes towards LGBT+ issues are less tolerant than in the UK, and can vary depending on location. Government officials have made derogatory comments about LGBT+ individuals. Public displays of affection may attract negative attention. The republics of the North Caucasus are particularly intolerant to LGBT+ issues. Since January 2017, credible reports have been received of the arrest, torture and extrajudicial killing of gay men in Chechnya, allegedly conducted by Chechen regional authorities.

In 2021 Russia was ranked 46th out of 49 European countries for LGBT+ rights by ILGA-Europe. There are no laws that exist to protect LGBT+ people from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. There are laws severely limiting the receipt of external funding by LGBTI and human rights organisations in Russia.

Homosexuality is not illegal in Russia. However, in 2012, Moscow Pride was banned for 100 years. In June 2013, a law banning the promotion of ‘non-traditional sexual relations’ towards under 18s (the “gay propaganda” law) entered into force. There have been reports that instances of harassment, threats, and acts of violence towards the LGBT+ community have increased following the introduction of this law. While no foreign nationals have been charged or convicted under it, penalties could include arrest and detention, fines and/or deportation.

See our information and advice page for the LGBT+ community before you travel.

Religious activities

There are restrictions on certain religious activities, including preaching and distributing religious materials. Following recent legislation, Jehovah’s Witnesses are considered an extremist organisation in Russia and can be subject to significant harassment from the authorities, particularly at places of worship. At least one foreign national has been detained and subsequently imprisoned for being a Jehovah’s Witness, though we are not aware of any British nationals being detained for this reason. Some other minority religious groups in Russia are also subject to similar discrimination, as are organisations like the Scientologists.

IT and Social Media

Recently passed legislation in Russia imposes severe restrictions on the publishing and distribution of information related to the Russian armed forces and any military operations. Publishing or distributing information considered ‘fake’ and/or from non-official Russian Government sources may be punishable with fines or prison sentences up to 15 years. This also applies to posting and sharing content on social media.

Russia’s cybersecurity laws are changing. Restrictions have been placed on some social media platforms, such as Meta (Facebook and Instagram), LinkedIn and Telegram, and access to other internet sites can be unreliable or blocked completely. More information is available from the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (in Russian).

You can find further advice on the website of the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre.

Restricted areas

Access to certain areas such as military and border zones are restricted. You must get permission from the local authorities before entering these areas. You can find a list online (in Russian).

If you don’t get the necessary permissions you may be arrested, fined or even deported. If you’re in any doubt about whether a tour or excursion will take you into a restricted area, contact your tour operator or the Russian Embassy.

Dual nationality

If you have dual nationality and enter Russia on the passport of your other nationality, the assistance that the British Embassy is able to offer you may be limited.

Russia does not recognise dual nationality for Russian nationals in Russia. If you have dual British and Russian nationality, the Russian authorities will treat you as a Russian national and the consular assistance we can provide to you may be very limited.

If you have dual British and Russian nationality and travel to Russia to renew your Russian passport, it may take up to 4 months for your new passport to be issued. You won’t be able to leave Russia on your British passport if you entered Russia on your Russian passport, and will therefore have to remain in Russia until your new Russian passport is issued.

Children born overseas and added to their parents’ Russian passports may now have to get their own passport to exit Russia. Check with the Russian Embassy before you travel to ensure you have the necessary paperwork.

If you have a health condition, or you are pregnant, you may need specialist healthcare abroad. Check whether your destination country can provide the healthcare you may need and ensure you have appropriate travel insurance for unexpected medical evacuation or local treatment.

See the Coronavirus travel health and Healthcare sections in the Coronavirus page for COVID-19 health information.

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.

General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist are available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.

While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).

Medication

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines.

You can normally bring prescription and over the counter medication into Russia for personal use. However, if your medication contains narcotic or psychoactive substances (details available on the Rossiyskaya Gazeta website in Russian), you must carry a prescription in your name which has been translated into Russian and then notarised. Notarisation services in the UK are available from a Notary Public.

If you’re unsure whether you need to provide a prescription and notarised translation to bring your medicines into Russia, check with the Russian Embassy before you travel.

Medical treatment

112 is the single number for any emergency service in Russia. According to Russian law, any foreign national has a right for free medical care in life threatening circumstances.

Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is not valid in Russia, and the reciprocal
Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is not valid in Russia, and the reciprocal healthcare agreement between the UK and Russia ended on 1 January 2016.

Medical care in most areas of Russia is below Western standards. Hospitals do not accept all cases, and may require cash or credit card payments at Western rates in advance of treatment. Disposable IV supplies, syringes and needles are standard practice in urban areas; however if you plan to travel in remote areas, you may wish to bring your own supplies.

Health risks

According to the Russian Federal Centre for HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control (http://www.hivrussia.info/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Spravka-VICH-v-Ross...), in December 2021 a total of 1.56 million people in Russia were living with HIV. HIV prevalence rate among adolescents and young adults in 2021 was estimated at 0.8% compared to prevalence rate in the UK of around 0.2%.

You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. Due to uncertainties with the local blood supply, non-essential and elective surgeries are not recommended.

Air quality in Moscow varies and can worsen in certain weather conditions. You should monitor local media and the website for Moscow Emercom (in Russian) for more information.

The currency in Russia is the Russian rouble (RUB).

The value of the rouble is currently volatile and the value of holdings may fluctuate.

MasterCard and Visa have suspended operations in Russia. This means that MasterCard and Visa cards issued outside of Russia will not work at Russian merchants or ATMs. Cards issued inside Russia continue to work in Russia but they will not work outside of Russia. You should be aware that it may not be possible for you to access your funds through Russian banks or to make payments to Russian businesses with non-Russian credit/debit cards.

As the economy continues to be volatile, this may lead to broader disruption and difficulties affecting the reliability of access to goods and services.

Credit/debit cards issued in Russia are widely used in major Russian cities, including most hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions, supermarkets and other shops. ATMs are easy to find; predominantly in bank outlets.

Let your credit/debit card provider know where you’re going to avoid your card being blocked for anti-fraud reasons. You should report the loss of your credit/debit card to your provider as soon as possible.

It is no longer easy to obtain roubles through high street banks or currency providers in the UK.

If you plan to buy roubles in Russia, you should take US dollars or euros to exchange, and only change money at banks, hotels and exchange bureaus. It is an offence to change money from street traders.

It’s illegal to pay directly for general transactions within Russia using foreign currency.

Large numbers of British nationals travel safely in and around the Arctic each year. The Arctic is a vast region, comprising the northerly areas of Canada, Finland, Greenland (Denmark), Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and Alaska (United States). In addition to reading the specific travel advice for each of these countries, prospective visitors to the Arctic should also consider the potential remoteness of certain destinations from search and rescue, evacuation and medical facilities. Independent travellers are particularly advised to develop contingency arrangements for emergency back-up.

The most popular way of visiting the Arctic is by ship. As some areas of the Arctic -specifically the more northerly and remote regions - can be uncharted and ice-covered, you should check the previous operational experience of cruise and other operators offering travel in the region. You should also consider the on-board medical facilities of cruise ships and talk to cruise operators as appropriate, particularly if you have a pre-existing medical condition.

The 8 Arctic States take their international search and rescue obligations very seriously, and have signed a binding agreement on search and rescue co-operation in the Arctic. However, in the highest latitude regions of the Arctic, cruise ships may be operating in relative isolation from other vessels and/or inhabited areas. You should be aware that in these regions, search and rescue response will often need to be dispatched from many hundreds of miles away, and assistance to stranded vessels may take several days to arrive, particularly in bad weather. Search and rescue assets are also likely to offer only basic transport and basic medical care, and are unlikely to be capable of advanced life-support. Responsible cruise operators should happily provide additional information relevant to the circumstances of the cruise they are offering, and address any concerns you may have.

Consular assistance and support to British nationals in the Arctic will be affected by the capacity of national and local authorities. You should make sure you have adequate travel insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment or potential repatriation.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCDO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice team a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry, or contact us on Twitter or Facebook. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.