Who needs a Russian visa in the 2021?

Who can travel to Russia in 2021?

In accordance with Annex №1 of the Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation №635-R of March 16, tourists from the following countries may come to Russia:

United Arab Emirates

Citizens of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Ukraine residing in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions are also allowed to visit Russia.

There are 2 main rules for travellers who are going to visit Russia:

— You must be a citizen of these countries or have a residence permit (or any other document proving the right of permanent residence).

— You have to enter Russia by plane and only from the territory of your country.

As for other countries, there are certain categories of citizens that can enter Russia. See the full list on the Federal Security Service website (available in Russian).

These categories are:

— diplomats and their family members;

— drivers, captains and pilots of international flights;

— foreign nationals who are family members of Russian citizens

— citizens who need to take care for their closest relatives (e.g. husbands, wives, children, mothers and fathers);

— citizens who have a residence permit for Russia;

— migrants who participate in the governmental programme;

— citizens who come for medical treatment (the documents should be issued by the Ministry of Health);

— citizens entering due to death of a close relative (death certificate and a document confirming the degree of kinship are required);

— highly qualified specialists. See the instructions for such specialists on the Federal Agency for Tourism website (available in Russian);

— residents of Baikonur and employees of companies working in the space industry.

What documents are needed for entry to Russia?

Negative COVID-19 PCR test — provide it at the customs. You must make it no earlier than 72 hours before departure.
You do not need to stay in quarantine if you have a negative test result.

A passport valid for 6 months from the date of travel.

Application form for those who are on flights to the Russian Federation for border crossing. It is to be completed prior to arrival in Russia.

Visa (citizens of 58 states are eligible for visa-free travel. See the list of these countries at the Federal Agency for Tourism website).
You must apply for it at the nearest visa application centre of your country: electronic visas to Russia are temporarily suspended.

Visa application form.
Sample for British nationals.
Sample for citizens of other countries.

Medical Insurance (Russian abbreviation: DMS). It must be valid across the whole territory of Russia and cover possible COVID-19 infection.

Proof of accommodation. Required for citizens who are nor eligible for visa-free travel to Russia.

Things you need to foresee before travelling to Russia

You need to be tested for COVID-19 in 72 hours before your arrival. The fastest way to get a test result is to do express tests. Keep in mind that they might be more expensive. The certificate must be in English or Russian. You may request a Russian translation at the clinic.

If you will show signs of fever or any other symptoms of an illness, you may be asked to re-do the test upon arrival. Set aside some cash on that — on average, the test costs 3,000 rubles (approximately 34 EUR). If the result is positive, you will have to stay for treatment.

Rules and recommendations you should follow while travelling in Russia

— be sure to wear gloves and a medical mask in public places: shops, transport, public institutions and museums;

— maintain at least 1,5 meters between yourself and people around;

— avoid crowded places;

— take a taxi instead of public transport.

How not to get COVID-19 — basic rules

Precautions The World Health Organization advises to follow:

— wash your hands thoroughly with soap, use alcohol-based hand rubs;

— wear a mask and gloves in public places. The mask must cover your nose and mouth;

— cover your mouth with a tissue if you feel like sneezing or coughing. After that, dispose the tissue immediately;

— avoid touching your face.

Stay at home if you feel unwell. If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, call 103 immediately.

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Visa Requirements for Russian Citizens

Country of Destination

Visa Requirements for Russian Citizens

Visa requirements for Russian citizens are administrative entry restrictions for Russian passport holders set by the authorities of other states.

The Russian passport is considered the 48th in the ranking in terms of travel freedom according to the Henley Passport Index, as Russian citizens have visa-free or visa on arrival access to over 120 countries and territories.

Before planning a trip to a foreign country, citizens of Russia should check the visa requirements for Russia passport holders as well as verify that their passport has a minimum validity of 6 months and have one or two blank pages.

Visa requirements for Russian passport holders differ depending on the country of destination the traveler plans to visit, the purpose of the trip, and the duration of the intended stay.

It may be necessary to obtain an embassy visa, an electronic travel visa authorization, or a visa on arrival to travel to a foreign country from South Africa. However, there are dependent and autonomous territories for which a visa may not be required, but a special permit may be necessary.

Most territories which are visa-exempt for citizens of the Russian Federation permit travelers from Russia to visit for a short period of time from 14 days up to 6 months without having to obtain an electronic or embassy visa.

If the purpose of the visit is other than tourism, business or transit, or for longer periods of stay, it is normally necessary to obtain a visa to travel to the destination.

However, other visa-free countries for Russian citizens may require the visitor to get an electronic travel authorization online before arriving in the territory.

List of Visa Countries for Russia Passport Holders in 2021

It is currently necessary to obtain a visa for Russian citizens in order to travel around 170 nations across the world, either by electronic visa through an online application, visa on arrival from a border entry point, or at the embassy of the destination country in Russia.

Travelers from Russia who wish to visit any destination on the list of visa-required countries for Russian citizens need to obtain a visa to do so, regardless of the intended period of stay or the purpose of the trip, whether a tourist visa, student visa, business visa, work visa, or transit visa.

Currently, there are more than 140 countries for which it is necessary to obtain a visa before departing Russia through the nearest relevant embassy or consulate or from an electronic visa authorization.

There are also around 30 countries that have a visa on arrival option for Russian passport holders. In some of these countries, an eVisa system is also available. It is often more convenient to apply for the eVisa, as this option eliminates the need to wait in line at the border of the destination country to submit a visa application.

Bellow you will find a complete guide to all theВ countries for which a visa is required for Russian citizens.

Electronic Travel Visa Authorization for Citizens of Russia

An Electronic Travel Visa Authorization system allows Russian passport holders to obtain an electronic visa waiver or eVisa for the territory of their destination, eliminating the need to submit an application at an embassy or consulate.

There are around 30 countries across the world that have the option to obtain an electronic travel authorization or eVisa for Russian citizens.

Electronic visas for Russian nations may be issued as either single or multiple entry eVisas that allow the traveler to stay between 14 days and 90 days depending on the territory. They usually function as a tourist visa, business visa, and transit visa.

An approved travel visa authorization for Russian citizens is usually sent to an email address provided by the traveler during the application process or electronically linked to the applicant’s passport.

Russian travelers are usually able to present the eVisa-linked passport to gain entry to the relevant country, or otherwise a copy of the approved document.

Find below a complete list of the main destinations Russian citizens can visit by applying for an Electronic Travel Visa Authorization.

Who can travel to Russia in 2021?

International tourism is currently going through difficult times, but the borders are gradually opening with certain restrictions. Russia is resuming air traffic with many countries and is beginning to issue tourist visas again.

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Who can enter Russia?

Denis Grishkin/Moskva Agency

The main document that regulates entry to Russia during the pandemic is the Government Decree No. 635-r (March 16, 2020) that is regularly upgraded.

According to this document, only certain categories of foreigners can visit Russia, regardless of citizenship: diplomats, pilots, Russians’ family members, athletes to participate in competitions and specialists by invitation and foreigners with a residence permit in Russia. They can enter with any kind of transport.

Residents of the partially recognized republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia can also enter Russia via land and railway checkpoints, regardless of the trip purpose. The main thing is that the entry must be from these republics.

Andrei Nikerichev/Moskva Agency

However, no restrictions apply to Russian citizens: holders of Russian passports can freely return to the Motherland. Before registering for a flight, they need to fill out a special electronic form and upon arrival in Russia, they need to pass a PCR test for COVID-19 within three days and upload the results to the state services website. If they have a certificate of vaccination with a Russian vaccine, then the test is not needed. Note that foreign vaccines are not yet recognized in Russia.

Can a tourist visit Russia?

Denis Grishkin/Moskva Agency

According to the abovementioned decree, foreigners can come to Russia from those countries with which Russia has resumed regular flights, including for tourist purposes. It is important to come from that country where the visitor has citizenship or a residence permit. That is, a Turkish citizen must fly from Turkey, while a UK citizen – only from the UK. It’s forbidden to enter Russia via land or sea borders (with the exception of Belarus: citizens of this state can also enter by train).

As of July 2021, the countries from which a tourist can fly directly are: Austria, Azerbaijan, Albania, Armenia, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, UK, Hungary, Venezuela, Vietnam, Germany, Greece, Egypt, India, Iceland, Jordan, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Qatar, Cyprus, Kyrgyzstan, Korea, Cuba, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Mauritius, Maldives, Malta, Morocco, Mexico, UAE, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, North Macedonia, Seychelles, Serbia, Singapore, Syria, the U.S., Tajikistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Switzerland, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia and Japan.

To board the plane, you must provide a negative PCR test for COVID-19 (in English or Russian), made no earlier than 72 hours before entering Russia. Children under the age of two do not need to pass a test. There is no quarantine for holders of such certificates (anyway, you won’t be allowed on a flight without them). Also, those arriving need to fill out a special form (sample) and have a policy covering medical expenses in the case of COVID-19.

Citizens of the Eurasian Economic Union (Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan) (and from September 1, 2021, all CIS citizens) must install the mobile app called ‘Traveling without COVID-19’ to enter Russia (Google Play and App Store) and enter the test results in the application.

In Russia, it is still necessary to wear a mask in public places, including on any form of public transport and shopping malls. You are not required to wear one outside.

Visa issues

Russia has its own visa rules for each country, which can be found on the website of the Russian Embassy or the visa center of your country. If you already have a visa to Russia and you are included in the list of countries whose citizens are allowed to enter, then you can enter with this visa. If you need a new visa, then you need to apply for it at the visa center or the embassy in your country. Russia is once again issuing tourist, business and other types of visas, for countries with which it has resumed air traffic.

Note, a tourist visa will be given for up to six months, if a confirmed hotel booking is provided (the document is in Russian).

Meanwhile, citizens of 52 countries, including the EU, Japan and China, will be able to enter the country with an electronic visa, which can be issued in just four days, without the need for any documents confirming the purpose of the trip. Additionally, 72-hour visa-free entry to Russia for cruise ship passengers will, once again, come into force.

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Important! In many countries, there are still restrictions on LEAVING for the purpose of tourism, so having a Russian visa does not even guarantee that you will get permission to leave your country. This should be clarified before making any trips.

All information is current as of July 23, 2021.

If using any of Russia Beyond’s content, partly or in full, always provide an active hyperlink to the original material.

Russian visa policy in 2021 or how to visit Russia without a visa?

Planning to visit Russia and not sure where to start? Read this post about the Russian visa policy in 2021 and how to visit Russia without a visa.

This post was originally written in 2016, but I updated it very recently according to the new information and new Russian visa updates in 2020. All the information is correct on the moment of the update, however, as everything is changing rapidly nowadays, it always makes sense to check and verify the information with the visa centre/embassy.

If you’re new to this blog, hi, I’m Liza. I was born and raised in beautiful St. Petersburg, Russia and in the last 4 years of blogging, I created over 40 articles about travel to Russia, from the transport guides to the safety tips! Click here to access all the Russia posts >>>

This post’s overview:

Is it hard to get the Russian visa in 2021?

Russia is a very beautiful and interesting country with a rich culture and history. However, after 1918 it got kind of closed to the world and only reopened in 1991 after the USSR collapsed. Even though there’s no cold war anymore, it’s still not that easy to get a visa to Russia in 2019, however, more and more countries don’t need a visa to visit Russia anymore.

If you’re from the EU, USA, Canada, Australia etc, you probably need a visa to Russia. Most of Asia and South America can visit Russia visa free for almost 3 months.

However, there’s actually a way to visit Russia without a visa in 2021 and it applies to holders of any passports. Stay tuned, I will tell you about this just a bit later.

So is it actually hard to get a visa to Russia in 2020? Not really – all you need to do is to go to the Russian visa centre after filling out a visa form, get a special voucher (aka invitation – you just pay for it extra), pay the visa fee, let them take your fingerprints scans (only applies to certain countries) and wait for your visa.

If you’re applying from the UK, your Russian visa centre is this one.

Russian visa policy – getting Russian visa in 2021

Whether you need a visa to visit Russia in 2021 or not, depends on your nationality. If you hold a passport of the following countries, you’re lucky and you don’t need a visa for Russia:

Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hong Kong, Israel, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Macao, Mauritius, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nicaragua, Nauru, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Samoa, Serbia, Seychelles, South Korea, St. Kitts and Nevis, South Africa, Suriname, Thailand, Tajikistan, UAE, Ukraine, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Venezuela.

In all other cases, you do need to apply for the Russian visa beforehand.

If you don’t want to deal with a visa centre, you can apply through an agency. If you pay extra, you don’t even need to fill your papers – the agency will do that for you. The agency will issue you a travel voucher which allows you to visit Russia. So you wait for a week or two and here you are – your visa is ready to collect.

However, if you want to apply yourself, you need to do the following:

1 – Find the closest visa centre to your place of residence
2 – Buy a travel voucher (can also be obtained from the hotel you booked – just drop them a line asking for the voucher, and they gonna send it to you).
3 – Buy good travel insurance for Russia – it’s one of the visa requirements

4 – Get a passport size photograph
5 – Bank statements for proof of residence in the country, where you are currently residing
6 – Fill online application form https://visa.kdmid.ru/PetitionChoice.aspx (some of the previous docs are needed to fill the application)
7 – Bring all the documents to the visa application centre, go through finger scanning procedure & photo taking
8 – wait 1-3 weeks

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In case, you have some friends who could invite you officially, you can save a bit of money, but keep in mind that it’s a lot of paperwork for your friends. In this case, you don’t need a voucher from an agency or a hotel reservation. And you also have a chance to get a visa for 3 months instead of just one month.

None of my friends or people I know were refused Russian visa, so don’t worry about that and good luck! However, if you’re going to Helsinki or Tallinn anytime soon, don’t forget about the amazing opportunity of visiting Russia without needing to obtain a visa to Russia!

eVisa to Russia in 2021?

There’s a lot of talk going on regarding the possibility of obtaining an eVisa to Russia. Recently, a new pilot version of the eVisa to Vladivostok, Kaliningrad and St. Petersburg was introduced for the citizens of certain countries. This visa is free and it takes up to 4 days to get it (online).

However, if you’re from one of these countries listed below, you can now visit Vladivostok with an eVisa:

Algeria, Bahrain, Mexico, Brunei, India, Iran, Qatar, China, North Korea, Kuwait, Morocco, UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Tunisia, Turkey and Japan.

In the case of St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad, it’s these countries plus the entire EU (excluding the UK).

How to visit Russia without a visa?

Did you know that you can visit Russia without visa for 72 hours no matter which passport do you hold?

This rule applies to the entries by ferry from Helsinki or Tallinn to Saint Petersburg only. Or to transit entries to Kaliningrad. There are also other ports like Anadyr, Kaliningrad, Novorossiysk, Sevastopol, Sochi and Vladivostok, but I guess, St. Petersburg is the easiest option!

In other words, you have to go to Finland or Estonia, buy a ferry ticket to Saint Petersburg with the cruise company called St. Peter Line and decide what you are going to do there within these 72 hours! Not bad, huh?

Below, I will tell you what can you do during 72 hours in Russia without a visa!

72 hours in Russia without a visa

As I already mentioned before, you can spend 72 hours in Russia without having to obtain a visa. Most probably, you will only be able to visit St. Petersburg, however, it is technically possible to visit Moscow too. Just buy a speed train ticket, so the journey to Moscow takes only 4 hours or a flight (which is around 1-hour long).

Attention: you also need to hold a hotel reservation, when you enter Russia and that’s quite a strict rule.

Personally, I would recommend you to stay in St. Petersburg only and see the city properly (anyways, you won’t be able to see everything since the city is huge and beautiful; moreover, it has many suburbs with fabulous palaces).

I hope you enjoyed this post about the visa to Russia in 2019. In case you’re interested, I do have a lot of other posts about Russia >>>

Who needs a visa to enter Russia?

Russian visa is required for most countries of the world, except countries of South America and some countries in the Middle East and Asia.

Citizens of other countries are required to obtain a visa for entry into the territory of the Russian Federation. However, in some cases, a visa is not necessary. If a citizen of another state wants to enter the territory of Russia, he/she should know, in which case the visa is required. Please see:

If you find out that you need a Russian visa

Visa policy for citizens of foreign countries

If you are a citizen of EU, a country in Asia or Africa, Japan or USA you are required to obtain a visa to enter Russia. More detailed information on each of the countries is listed in the table below.

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Do foreign citizens need a visa to enter Russia?

Migration Risk Level

No visa required

Up to 90 days of simultaneous stay

Virgin Islands (US)

Antigua and Barbuda

No visa required

Up to 90 days of simultaneous stay

No visa required

Up to 90 days of simultaneous stay

No visa required

No visa required

Up to 90 days of simultaneous stay

Bosnia and Herzegovina

No visa required

Up to 30 days of simultaneous stay

No visa required

Up to 90 days of simultaneous stay

Virgin Islands (US)

No visa required

Up to 14 days of simultaneous stay

No visa required

Up to 90 days of simultaneous stay

No visa required

Up to 90 days of simultaneous stay

No visa required

Up to 90 days of simultaneous stay

Guadeloupe, Guyana, Martinique, Mayotte, New Caledonia, Reunion, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Wallis and Futuna, French Polynesia

No visa required

Up to 90 days of simultaneous stay

No visa required

Up to 90 days of simultaneous stay

No visa required

Up to 90 days of simultaneous stay

No visa required

Up to 90 days of simultaneous stay

No visa required

Up to 90 days of simultaneous stay

No visa required

Up to 90 days of simultaneous stay

The Caribbean: Curacao, Bonaire, Saba, Sint Eustatius, the Dutch part of the island of St. Maarten and Aruba

No visa required

Up to 90 days of simultaneous stay

No visa required

Up to 90 days of simultaneous stay

No visa required

Up to 90 days of simultaneous stay

No visa required

Up to 90 days of simultaneous stay

No visa required

Up to 30 days of simultaneous stay

No visa required

Up to 60 days of simultaneous stay

No visa required

Original invitation required

Republic Of Maldives

No visa required

Up to 90 days of simultaneous stay

No visa required

Up to 90 days of simultaneous stay

Principality of Monaco

No visa required

Up to 30 days of simultaneous stay

No visa required

Up to 14 days of simultaneous stay

No visa required

Up to 90 days of simultaneous stay

No visa required

Up to 90 days of simultaneous stay

Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha

No visa required

Up to 30 days of simultaneous stay

No visa required

Up to 90 days of simultaneous stay

Papua New Guinea

No visa required

Up to 90 days of simultaneous stay

No visa required

Up to 90 days of simultaneous stay

The Republic Of Guinea

The Republic Of Korea

No visa required

Up to 60 days of simultaneous stay

The Republic of Cote d’Ivoire

No visa required

Up to 90 days of simultaneous stay

No visa required

Up to 60 days of simultaneous stay

Sao Tome and Principe

Northern Mariana Islands

No visa required

Up to 30 days of simultaneous stay

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

No visa required

Up to 90 days of simultaneous stay

Saint Kitts and Nevis

No visa required

Up to 90 days of simultaneous stay

No visa required

Up to 30 days of simultaneous stay

The Special Administrative Region Hong Kong S.A.R.

No visa required

Up to 14 days of simultaneous stay

The Special Administrative Region Macao

No visa required

Up to 30 days of simultaneous stay

No visa required

Up to 90 days of simultaneous stay

No visa required

Up to 30 days of simultaneous stay

Turks and Caicos Islands

Trinidad and Tobago

Tristan da Cunha

No visa required

Up to 90 days of simultaneous stay

No visa required

Original invitation required. Up to 90 out of 180 within each period of stay (as of 20.03.2014)

No visa required

Up to 90 days of simultaneous stay

Federated States Of Micronesia

No visa required

Up to 90 days of simultaneous stay

The Central African Republic

No visa required

Up to 30 days of simultaneous stay

No visa required

Up to 90 days of simultaneous stay

No visa required

Up to 90 days of simultaneous stay

No visa required

Up to 90 days of simultaneous stay

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South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

No visa required

Up to 90 days of simultaneous stay

No visa required

Up to 90 days of simultaneous stay

Special visa policy

In order to enter and stay in the territory of the Russian Federation, a person holding citizenship of another State is required to obtain a visa. However, there are two exceptional cases in which a special visa policy is applied.

  1. Children who have not reached the age of 16.
    • Children under 16 years do not need a visa if they are specified in their parents’ passports and traveling with them.
    • If the child’s name is not specified in the passports of his/her parents, or he/she travels alone, they must apply for a visa. Notarized consent from their parents (or guardians) is required.
    • If the child and the parent(s) have different last names, it is necessary that his/her birth certificate should be attached to visa.
  1. Passengers travelling on cruise ships.
    • Passengers of cruise ships do not need a visa during their stays at ports not exceeding 72 hours, if they spend the night aboard the ship.
    • St. Petersburg is the only destination on the route of the ship.
    • Passengers who come ashore as part of an organized tourist group do not need a visa.
    • It is forbidden to leave the ship with an expired passport or without a voucher from the host party.
    • Citizens of foreign countries, who travel by cruise ship, wishing to go beyond the territory of ports outside organized tourist groups must possess a Russian visa (the visa decision should be made at the Embassy of the Russian Federation. Obtaining a visa in ports is not a possibility).

Russia

Important COVID-19: travel is different

To understand the risks in a country, including the latest COVID restrictions (including for entry), follow FCDO Travel Advice.

To prevent new COVID variants from entering the UK, you should not travel to red list countries.

Check what you need to do to travel abroad and return to England, or read travel guidance for Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

Subscriptions

Entry requirements

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

The authorities in Russia set and enforce entry rules. For further information contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to. You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Entry rules in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Entry to Russia

On 18 March 2020 the Russian government introduced restrictions on entry into the whole country for almost all foreign citizens. On 30 March 2020, temporary restrictions on entry and exit via Russia’s land borders were enforced. The duration of these remains unspecified.

Certain groups may be exempt from these restrictions, including people who are resident in Russia, those whose close family members are Russian citizens, members of diplomatic missions and highly qualified specialists. Further guidance was issued on Friday 16 April to nationals of various countries including the UK, that they could now travel to Russia via a 3rd country as long as that country featured in the published list. The full list is United Kingdom; Tanzania (suspended until 1 October 2021); Turkey; Switzerland; Egypt; Maldives; United Arab Emirates; Kazakhstan; Kyrgyzstan; Republic of Korea; Cuba; Serbia; Japan; Republic of Seychelles; Ethiopia; Vietnam; India; Qatar; Finland; Azerbaijan; Armenia; Greece; Singapore; Venezuela; Germany; Syria; Tajikistan; Uzbekistan; Sri-Lanka; Iceland; Malta; Mexico; Portugal; Saudi Arabia; Austria; Hungary; Lebanon; Luxemburg; Mauritius; Morocco; Croatia; Belgium; Bulgaria; Jordan; Republic of Ireland; Italy, Cyprus; China; Lichtenstein; North Macedonia; United States; Albania; the Czech Republic; France; Bahrain; Dominican Republic, Moldova, Iraq, Spain, Kenya, Slovakia.

You should check the Ministry of Foreign Affairs guidance to see if you qualify and consult your airline before travel. Ministry of Foreign Affairs guidance also includes detailed guidance on the approvals and documentation you will need to have in place before you commence your journey.

Direct flights between the UK and Russia restarted on 2 June 2021. Check with your travel company for the latest information.

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

In Moscow, express PCR COVID-19 tests are available in Sheremetyevo, Domodedovo and Vnukovo airports as well as in a number of state and private clinics. A full list of certified clinics and laboratories certified to perform PCR COVID-19 tests is available online (only in Russian).

On 15 December the Russian President extended the temporary measures to regulate the legal status of foreign citizens and stateless persons in Russia in connection with the threat of the spread of a new coronavirus infection. The grace period for Russian visas which have expired or will expire between 15 March 2020 – 15 June 2021 was extended until 15 June 2021. However, for nationals or permanent residence holders of those countries with which Russia had regular travel links on 15 December, including the UK, the grace period was only extended for 90 days, until 14 March 2021.

As the grace period has now passed, British Nationals who entered on visas need to ensure that they have not overstayed. If the overstay is no more than 72 hours on a business or tourist visa then please contact the British Embassy Consular section. If over 72 hours, you will need to approach your local migration office for further information as soon as possible. It should be noted that the local authorities do not always speak English, so if necessary, please refer to the list of local translators and interpreters and lawyers.

From July 25, new rules apply to foreigners who enter Russia from the Eurasian Economic Union countries (Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan) 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. From September 1, use of the app will become mandatory for entry from other CIS countries (Azerbaijan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan). Exceptions apply to travellers arriving in Russia from third countries through the territories of the Eurasian Economic Union countries in transit or with a short stopover. In these cases, travellers are required to have a certificate with a negative result of the PCR test.

Testing / screening on arrival

Anyone arriving into airports will be temperature-checked.

Quarantine requirements

The Russian government requires all arriving passengers to obtain and present a negative COVID-19 test certificate dated less than 72 hours before travel. Airlines may require you to show this on check-in and some airlines require the certificate to be no more than 72 hours before arrival in your destination (please check with your airline). You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country. You should arrange to take a private test.

From 4 September 2021 the Russian authorities no longer require travellers arriving from the UK to observe a 14 day quarantine period.

Passengers arriving for permanent work purposes including Highly Qualified Specialist (HQS) visa holders are still required to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival in Russia.

Regular entry requirements

Visas

You’ll need to get a visa from the Russian Embassy before you travel. Processing times are up to 20 business days for standard service or up to 3 business days for urgent service depending upon the visa category applied for and the application itself.

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, 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 here (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 each 180 days of visa validity period.

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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. The visa processing time is ten working days.

A British parent whose partner is Russian and has a child with their 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.

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, get an exit visa and pay a fine to leave Russia.

If it is not done within the 72-hour visa free regime, you will be facing a court hearing, fine, deportation and a possible ban from re-entry.

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.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

If your passport is lost or stolen while you are in Russia, then you will need to obtain a police report from the nearest police station and get a UK Emergency Travel Document (ETD). Once you obtain these, then you will need to apply for an exit visa to leave Russia. 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. Contact the nearest Russian embassy or consulate outside Russia or local migration office in Russia to find out if a visa can be issued. You also need to check with the Russian embassy, consulate or migration office on the required length of ETD validity. 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.

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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 legal grounds for foreigners (including British nationals) to cross the land border between Russia and Belarus. 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. You should also consider contacting your nearest Russian embassy or consulate for advice on the latest situation for rail travellers.

Temporary travel restrictions across Russian land borders, including with Belarus, will be in place from 30 March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Duration of these remains unspecified.

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

Customs

You can import and export foreign currency up to USD 10,000 (or equivalent) without declaring it. And you can export foreign currency up to USD 3,000 (or equivalent) without declaring it.

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 licence 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.

The New Russian E-visa Will Go Live in 2021 and Allow to Visit the Whole Country

In recent years, Russia has been testing new ways to simplify visa procedures and boost international tourism. This has seen, for example, visa-free entry for foreigners attending the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the launch of new region-specific electronic visas, and the improvement of airports and infrastructures in remote areas.

In February 2020, the Russian government announced they will take one further step for making the country more accessible to foreign travelers — the implementation of new unified E-visas for the entire Russian territory that are going live in 2021.

What Russian eVisas Were Previously Available?

In the past few years, destination-specific eVisas were made available for 3 Russian regions only:

  • The Far East District
  • The Kaliningrad Oblast
  • The St Petersburg and Leningrad region

Electronic visas have been a huge success thanks to their convenience, affordability, and much shorter waiting times. That is why the government has now decided to launch a unified E-visa that extends to the whole Russian territory and allows its holder to visit all the Federation’s regions.

Other ways in which the government has facilitated international travel and communications include:

  • The renovation and expansion of the airport network in the Far East region
  • The opening of St Petersburg airport to low-cost airlines
  • The improvement of internet connection across the country, with new free wi-fi hotspots in major cities.

What Is the Difference between Regional eVisas and the Russian Unified E-visa?

The application process for the unified E-visa is just as quick and straightforward as that for the previous region-specific electronic visas. The online visa requirements are also very similar.

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However, there are 2 main differences that are likely to be well-received among travelers.

E-visa validity: more time in Russia

Although the regional eVisa validity is of 30 days, eVisa holders were only allowed a maximum stay of 8 days in Russia since the moment they first entered the country. As the Second Secretary of the Russian Embassy in the Philippines Denis M. Karenin commented, this is just “enough time to visit St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad”.

The new unified E-visa allows foreigners to stay in the country for up to 16 days. Moreover, it remains valid for 60 days from the day it is approved. This is especially helpful for those who wish to explore more than one city or/and arrive in Russia after a long flight from a distant country.

More territory covered: non region-specific visas

The regional eVisas for the Far East, St Petersburg, and Kaliningrad only granted their holder entry into a specific Russian region. Once they were done visiting, foreigners had to leave Russia from a border crossing point belonging to the same region they first entered. Had the foreigners wished to see another part of the country (for example, both St Petersburg and Moscow) they would have had to apply for another relevant visa.

The new unified E-visa applies to all cities within Russia. This gives tourists much greater freedom of movement. The only exception is represented by special restricted areas and facilities for which written permission is required.

The number of entry points eligible for the unified electronic visa has also been increased and visitors can leave and enter Russia from any of the relevant crossings.

How to Visit Russia with an E-visa

Using the new electronic visas for Russia is very easy.

Once the request is approved, the visa will be sent electronically to the holidaymaker. It is important to print out the confirmation or keep a digital copy on a mobile device before traveling to Russia.

Visitors will then need to carry the visa with them and present it at the border to the Russian immigration officers.

Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin approved a list of 29 eligible border crossing points to enter Russia with an E-visa. These include maritime, land, and airport crossings.

Are Russian Visas Free?

The vast majority of Russian visas require the payment of an application fee. This goes to cover the processing costs of the visa.

Fortunately, electronic visas are usually cheaper since the amount of both paperwork and manpower required to review applications is lower. However, fees apply to E-visas too.

Why Is Russia Launching New Visas?

Home to 23 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and famous for its unique architecture and stunning natural beauty, Russia is already the ninth most visited country in the world, with 33 million foreigners choosing it as their holiday destination in 2013.

However, the government is looking to expand the sector even further. Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced his plan to raise the annual tourism revenue of the country to $15.5 billion by the end of his presidential term in 2024.

As part of the national Digital Economy Program, different types of electronic visas have been launched recently to encourage foreign arrivals. The traditional paper tourist visa for Russia requires applicants to submit their papers in person at a Russian embassy or consulate. Moreover, travelers have to obtain an invitation letter from a Russian entity in order for their visa application to be considered.

The new electronic visas change things dramatically. Without having to queue at the embassy, eligible tourists can simply apply online in minutes from anywhere in the world. All they need is an internet connection and a few supporting documents like their valid passport.

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