Exercise a high degree of caution in all parts of Russia because of the threat of terrorist activity and crime. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor the news and other sources for information on possible new security risks.
- Terrorism is a threat throughout Russia. Terrorist attacks have occurred in Russian cities, including Moscow and St Petersburg. Terrorist attacks could take place in other regions of Russia. Russia intervention in the conflict in Syria has heightened Russia's profile with terrorists linked to or inspired by the conflict. See Safety and security.
- Targets have included public transport, transport hubs and public places popular with foreigners. The terrorism threat is underscored by frequent statements from Russian authorities that they have disrupted planned attacks. In August 2017, authorities reportedly disrupted an alleged plan by Islamic State/Daesh to attack public transport and other sites in Moscow. Be alert to possible threats. See Safety and security.
- Reconsider your need to travel to regions bordering the Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv due to the volatile security situation in this area.
Do not travel to the North Caucasus because of the high threat of terrorist activity.
- Avoid large public gatherings, as they may turn violent. See
Safety and security.
- Travellers may cross the border from Russia to Belarus by any means of transport - car, bus, train or aircraft. However, travellers may only cross from Belarus to Russia by air. Land crossings from Belarus to Russia, including the main European Highway E30, are currently designated for local residents only. See Local travel.
- Severe winter weather can disrupt travel in Russia. Make back-up plans and contact local authorities about a visa extension early, if required. See
- In 2017, the Russian government announced plans to introduce biometric finger-printing for all foreigners entering Russia. No implementation dates have been confirmed.
Travel smart for general advice for travellers.
Entry and exit
With the exception of some commercial cruise ship passengers (see below), Australian citizens must obtain a visa before entering Russia. It is not possible to obtain a visa on arrival.
If you arrive in Russia without a valid visa, you will be detained and deported at your own expense, following the payment of a fine. You risk extended detention and prosecution by Russian authorities and you could be barred from re-entering Russian territory.
Apply for the correct visa type, noting the distinction between various visa types, such as 'tourist' and 'visitor' visas. Ensure your visa type reflects your intended activities. You may be detained at the border and denied entry into Russia if your issued visa type does not match the purpose of your visit. You may need to provide biometric fingerprints as part of the visa application process.
When you receive your Russian visa, check your passport details are correct, including passport number, date of birth, visa type, and intention of stay and validity dates. If not accurate, return it to the Russian Embassy or Consulate for corrections. Visa restrictions are strictly enforced and it's virtually impossible to amend visa details once you're in Russia.
Special visa-free entry permissions apply to travellers who arrive by commercial cruise ships that dock for less than 72 hours in St Petersburg (and some other Russian port cities). Travellers are allowed to disembark for short periods as part of an officially recognised tour organised by a cruise company or registered tour operator. Discuss your travel plans with your cruise operator well in advance of travel and check whether you need to obtain a Russian visa.
If you intend to transit through Russia on the way to a third country, check transit visa requirements. If you're travelling to Russia through Belarus, you must obtain a Belarusian visa in addition to your visa for Russia. For information on Belarusian visas, contact the
Embassy of Belarus in Canberra.
As visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice, contact the nearest
Embassy or Consulate of Russia for up-to-date information.
Interior Ministry of Russia
All foreign visitors receive a migration card on arrival in Russia. Keep the stamped exit portion of the card with your passport, as you will need to submit it to passport control on departure. The migration card is electronic at most international airports but in smaller airports you will need to complete it manually.
The migration card covers both Russia and Belarus. If you're travelling directly between Russia and Belarus, you need to retain the stamped migration card received on entry to the first of the two countries until you exit the last of the two countries visited. You'll need valid visas for both countries in order to travel between Russia and Belarus.
If you lose your migration card, a replacement can be requested from the Ministry of Interior but this could delay your departure and involve significant costs.
In 2017, the Russian Government announced plans to introduce biometric fingerprinting for all foreigners entering Russia. No implementation dates have been announced.
Adults with children
Adults travelling with children may be required to show evidence of parental, custodial and/or access rights on arrival, particularly in the case of dual nationals.
The importation of electrical and some high technology equipment is strictly controlled. Example: Russian Customs have advised that visitors may import terminal Global Positioning Systems (GPS) devices provided they declare them on arrival. However, if you want to import a GPS peripheral device connected to a computer or to an antenna (even as a business sample), you'll need to get a special customs permit in advance. If you don't obtain a permit, you could be detained.
There are no restrictions on bringing mobile phones into Russia. However, if you want to import a satellite phone, you'll need to show evidence of advance approval from the
Federal Service for the Supervision of Communications.
There are no restrictions on bringing laptop computers for personal use into Russia. However, Russian border officials can demand to inspect any electronic device (including installed software) on departure.
In June 2016, the Russian Government introduced changes to laws concerning the importation (carrying) and use of medicines. These changes affect some medicines that can be purchased over the counter in Australia. See under Laws.
Travel between Russia and Belarus
Travellers may cross the border from Russia to Belarus by any means of transport - car, bus, train or aircraft. Travel from Belarus to Russia is only permitted by air as land crossings at this border, including the European Highway E30, are currently designated for local residents only. If you plan to enter Russia from Belarus, check first with the Embassies of the Russian Federation and Belarus in Australia.
While in Russia
Ensure you register with the Ministry of Interior within seven working days of arrival. A registration fee applies. Most hotels do this on behalf of guests, but you're legally responsible. Confirm with check-in staff on arrival that you have been registered.
If you're not staying at a hotel, the registration process can be complex. Those travelling on a visitor-type visa should register at the nearest post office. Those with visas allowing employment should be registered through their employer. Failure to register may result in significant delays and fines upon departure.
If your Australian passport is lost or stolen while you're in Russia, you'll need to arrange a new visa to exit Russia. First, obtain an official police report. Next, apply for a replacement passport through the Australian Embassy in Moscow. Finally, apply to Russian authorities for an exit visa (include the police report with your application). Similarly, if you replace your passport while in Russia, you'll need to ensure your visa is transferred into the new travel document.
Make sure you leave Russia before your visa expires. Some visas, including tourist visas, cannot be extended.
If you overstay your visa, you won't be allowed to leave Russia until the Ministry of Interior determines your legal status or an order is issued to deport you. You could also face detention until the authorities process your case. Penalties for overstaying include fines, deportation and/or a temporary ban from re-entry into Russia.
There are strict regulations covering the export of antiques, artworks (including modern art and posters if they are particularly rare or valuable) and items of historical significance purchased in Russia or imported to Russia from abroad. Items over 100 years old may not be allowed to be exported. If you want to export any antiques, artworks or items of historical significance, keep receipts of your purchases and:
- obtain an export permit from the Ministry of Culture in advance of travel - export permits are never issued at the airport.
- declare each item to border authorities when you depart Russia.
- be ready to physically present each item to border authorities, if requested.
- be ready to present purchase receipts for each item to border authorities, if requested.
Don't attempt to export items requiring permits without the relevant paperwork – doing so is a serious offence. Legislation concerning the export of artwork and antiques from Russia may change without warning.
Russian border officials can demand to inspect any electronic device (including installed software) on your departure from Russia.
Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia.
Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.
Be aware of attempts to obtain access to your passport by deception. If you are forced to hand over your passport, contact the Australian Embassy for advice.
By law, you must, as soon as possible:
Local currency: The currency of Russia is the Rouble (RUB). Declare all amounts in excess of RUB3,000 on departure.
Foreign currency: You can import up to US$10,000 (or foreign currency equivalent) without declaring it. If you import more than US$10,000, make sure a customs official stamps your declaration – only stamped declarations are valid. If you have more than US$10,000, carry proof that your funds were imported and declared or legally obtained in the country.
Federal Customs Service
Travellers have become scam victims when trying to exchange money with strangers in the street or in a bank queue.
ATMs and major credit cards are widely accepted, but fraud occurs. Avoid using ATMs in public places as it puts you at risk of theft and ATM fraud.
- Only change money at banks.
- Only use ATMs in banks and during business hours.
- Keep your credit card in sight at all times.
- Hide your PIN code at all times.
Travellers cheques are not widely accepted, even in Moscow and St Petersburg, and rarely in other regions.
Safety and security
Exercise a high degree of caution in Russia due to the threat of terrorist attack. Terrorist attacks have occurred in Russian cities, including Moscow and St Petersburg, and are a particular threat in the North Caucasus region. Attacks could also take place in other regions of Russia. Russian intervention in the conflict in Syria has heightened Russia's profile with terrorists linked to or inspired by the conflict.
There have been a number of attacks in Russia.
- On 19 August 2017, eight people were injured in a knife attack in the city of Surgut (2,100 km north-east of Moscow).
- On 3 April 2017, an explosion occurred on a train traveling between the Sennaya and Technological Institute metro stations in St Petersburg.
- In December 2014, militants attacked a traffic police checkpoint outside the city of Grozny, Chechnya. The militants entered the city and occupied the 'Press House' building in the city centre and a nearby school.
- In December 2013, attacks on public transport occurred in the city of Volgograd. These attacks caused a number of deaths and injuries.
The terrorism threat is underscored by frequent statements from Russian authorities that they have dirsupted planned attacks. In August 2017, authorities reportedly disrupted an alleged plan by Islamic State/Daesh to attack public transport and other sites in Moscow.
Possible targets of future attacks include public transport such as subways, trains and buses, airports, commercial and public places such as government buildings, residential complexes, hotels, restaurants, bars, schools, businesses, embassies, places of worship, markets, tourist areas, major sporting events and mass gatherings.
There is a heightened threat of terrorist activity in the North Caucasus: Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia, North Ossetia, the south-east part of Stavropol bordering Chechnya, Karbardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia. The Australian Government is extremely limited in its capacity to provide consular assistance in the North Caucasus.
Tensions in Georgia may impact on security in the Georgia-Russia border area. Read the Georgia travel advice before committing to any travel in the border region.
In planning your activities, consider the kind of places known to be terrorist targets and the level of security provided.
- Be alert to possible threats, especially in public places.
- Exercise particular caution around locations known to be possible terrorist targets.
- Have a clear exit plan if there is a security incident in crowded places.
- Report any suspicious activity or items to police.
- Monitor the news for any new or emerging threats.
- Take official warnings seriously and follow the instructions of local authorities.
- If there is an attack, leave the affected area immediately if it is safe to do so.
- Do not travel to the North Caucasus because of the high threat of terrorist activity.
- If, despite our advice not to travel, you travel to the North Caucasus, monitor local conditions (including through the media and travel operators) in advance of your travel and take appropriate personal security measures.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world.
Terrorist threat worldwide
Civil unrest and political tension
Racially-motivated assaults occur throughout Russia. Attacks are often perpetrated by skinhead groups or ultra-nationalists. There have been several large rallies by nationalists and neo-Nazis to protest against the presence of foreigners (particularly people from Africa, Central Asia and the Caucasus region) in Russia. Take extra care if you or your travel partner(s) are of Asian or African descent.
Large public gatherings in Russia can turn violent. Avoid all rallies, demonstrations and other large public gatherings. Involvement in unsanctioned demonstrations or protests is illegal and travellers could be arrested.
Ukraine border areas and Crimea
The situation along Russia's border with Ukraine is volatile, particularly in the regions bordering the Ukrainian provinces of Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv. Armed clashes or other violence is possible at any time, posing threats to travellers' (and residents') security.
The Australian Government does not recognise Russia's annexation of the Ukrainian region of Crimea. Do not travel to Crimea as it is not under Government control. Some Russian tour operators offer package tours that include travel to Crimea. Read about the situation in Crimea in our
Ukraine travel advice.
- Reconsider your need to travel to regions along the Russia-Ukraine border.
- Do not travel to Crimea.
Theft and assault
Petty crime, pick-pocketing and mugging (sometimes committed by groups of children) is common, especially around tourist attractions such as Red Square, the Ismailovsky tourist market and the Moscow or St Petersburg metros.
There is a high incidence of passport theft from foreign tourists. Tourists have been targeted in robberies and assaults, which occur occasionally, particularly in large cities.
Travellers have been drugged and robbed while drinking in nightclubs and bars or after accepting offers of food, drink or transportation from strangers.
- Take care of your personal belongings, particularly in tourist areas.
- Pay attention to your personal security in public places, particularly at night.
- Never accept food or drinks from strangers, or leave drinks unattended.
- If you aren't sure if a drink is safe, leave it.
- Stick with people you trust in bars, nightclubs and taxis.
- Don't accept offers of transport from strangers.
- Monitor local sources of information on crime.
Scams and extortion
Travellers have become victims of scams when trying to exchange money with strangers in the street or in a bank queue. Credit card and ATM fraud occurs.
Some Australians have been victims of fraud by
bogus internet friendship, dating and marriage schemes operating from Russia. These large-scale, well-organised scams typically result from connections made through internet dating schemes or chat rooms. Once a virtual relationship develops, the Australian citizen is asked by their friend or prospective marriage partner to send money to enable travel to Australia. Once the money has been received, the relationship is usually terminated and there is little to no chance of recovering the funds.
There have also been reports of harassment, mistreatment and extortion by police or other local officials.
- Only exchange currency at banks.
- Keep your credit card in sight during transactions.
- Only use ATMs inside bank premises and during business hours.
- Hide your PIN code at all times.
- Be wary of any connections made through internet dating schemes or chat rooms.
- If you suspect you're being extorted by a police officer or other local official, offer to walk with them to the nearest police station, where you can verify their identity and their demands.
Kidnapping for political purposes, ransom and retribution is common in the Northern Caucasus. In the past, foreigners have been targeted. The Australian Government's longstanding policy is that it does not make payments or concessions to kidnappers. The Australian Government considers that paying a ransom increases the risk of further kidnappings, including of other Australians. If you decide to travel to an area where there is a particular threat of kidnapping, seek professional security advice and have effective personal security measures in place.
Safety and security before planning any local travel.
If, despite our advice not to travel there for security reasons, you decide to go Chechnya or one of several other places in the North Caucasus, you'll need to first get permission from the
Ministry of Interior.
Several other areas of Russia, especially in Siberia and the Russian Far East, are also designated 'closed' areas. Foreigners require government permission to enter 'closed' areas. If government permission is required or if you're not sure whether permission is required, contact the Ministry of Interior before committing to travel.
Road users often drive dangerously and erratically. Ice and snow make driving in winter especially hazardous. Road conditions can be poor in rural areas.
The blood alcohol limit for drivers is zero.
Some taxis may appear official but are not licenced by local authorities. There are reports of extortion and robbery in unauthorised taxis. Official taxis can be booked by phone, at major hotels and from inside airports.
- Only use official taxi companies.
- Always book your taxi in advance - don't flag down taxis on the street.
- Don't share taxis with strangers.
- Always negotiate and confirm the fare before you get in a taxi.
The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the
Aviation Safety Network for information on aviation safety in Russia.
You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.
If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our
Consular services charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Possessing, selling, consuming or carrying illegal drugs, including small amounts of "soft" drugs such as cannabis, is illegal in Russia. Penalties are severe and include lengthy prison terms served in local jails.
Russia has strict rules governing the importation of medication, and what can be carried into the country by travellers for personal use. Some medicines that are available over-the-counter in Australia are restricted in Russia and subject to these rules. If you fail to declare restricted medications, you could be detained.
Routine police checks are common in public places. Carry your passport, visa and migration card with you at all times. Photocopies are not acceptable. If you fail to provide travel documentation on request, you could be detained and/or face substantial fines.
The following activities are illegal in Russia:
- photographing military installations and establishments or sites of strategic importance, including airports
- use of commercial film, television or camera equipment in public areas, such as Red Square in Moscow, without permission (hand-held home video cameras are permitted)
- driving a vehicle with a blood alcohol level greater than zero
- "promotion of non-traditional sexual relationships" to minors - this law potentially makes any action, statement or dissemination of information which appears to promote LGBTI issues illegal. More information: LGBTI travellers
Penalties include fines, imprisonment and deportation.
Russia has laws that govern child surrogacy. Obtain independent legal advice before making any surrogacy arrangements in Russia or with residents of Russia.
Overseas births, adoptions and surrogacies
Some Australian documents such as birth or marriage certificates, and other official documents, need to be legalised (by obtaining an apostille) before they will be accepted by Russian authorities. If you have an Australian document that you intend to use while in Russia, contact a
Russian embassy or consulate to ascertain if an apostille is required.
Apostilles can be issued by the
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Australia or by Australian Embassies and High Commissions overseas.
Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you can be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:
- bribery of foreign public officials
- child sex offences and child pornography
- female genital mutilation
- drug trafficking
- people smuggling and human trafficking
- forced marriage
- money laundering
- terrorism and foreign incursions.
Russia does not recognise dual nationality. This means that if you're a national of both Russia and Australia, Russian authorities will not recognise your Australian nationality and will treat you like any other national of Russia. For Australian-Russian dual nationals, this means that if you visit Russia:
- the ability of the Australian Government to provide consular assistance to you if you're arrested or detained may be limited
- under Russian law, you must enter and leave Russia on a valid Russian passport (though you can enter Russia using a repatriation certificate (svidetelstvo na vozvrashcheniye) if you don't have a valid Russian passport)
- you must, under Russian law, declare any other citizenships or foreign residency permits to Russia's
Ministry of Interior
- if you're male and between the ages of 18 and 27, you could be conscripted into the Russian military - seek advice from the nearest
Embassy or Consulate of Russia well in advance of any planned travel to Russia.
If your Russian passport expires while you're in Russia or if you enter Russia using a repatriation certificate, you'll need to get a new Russian passport before you leave. Russian border authorities will not allow you to depart without a valid Russian passport. The process for obtaining a new Russian passport for non-residents is complex and can take several months.
Children born outside of Russia and added to their parents' Russian passports need their own passport to exit Russia. Russian border authorities may require documentary evidence of the accompanying parent or guardian's relationship to the child and written permission for the child to travel from the non-travelling parent (if any).
Same-sex relationships are not illegal in Russia, but many Russians are socially conservative. Intolerance towards the LGBTI community is common, particularly outside of Moscow and St Petersburg. Violence against LGBTI people has been reported, including by local regional security forces.
Example: In April 2017, there were reports of several arrests of, and in some cases violence against, LGBTI individuals in Chechnya.
Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation.
Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.
- what circumstances and activities are and are not covered under your policy
- that you're covered for the whole time you will be away.
Physical and mental health
It's important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas, especially if you have an existing medical condition.
- At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
- Get vaccinated before you travel.
If you need counselling services while overseas, contact the Australian Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 and ask to speak to a Lifeline telephone counsellor.
Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.
Take prescription medicine with you so you remain in good health, but make sure you comply with Russia's strict laws concerning the importation (carrying) and use of medicines. These laws changed in June 2016. If your medicines contain barbiturate, codeine, sibutramine, anabolic steroids, androgens and other sex hormones, analgesic (tramadol), psychostimulants or other restricted substances, you must present a doctor's letter confirming the need for each medication to authorities when you arrive in Russia. This may include medications that are available over the counter in Australia, such as cold and flu medication. The letter must include a description of the medication (including chemical composition), daily dosage and an explanation of the underlying medical condition. The letter should confirm that the medicine is for personal use only and must be signed by your treating doctor. A notarised translation into Russian is also required.
Before you leave Australia:
Travel in forested areas brings the risk of exposure to tick-borne encephalitis and other tick-borne diseases. Ticks are very common in rural areas from spring to autumn. There have been reports of increased incidence of rabies and tick-borne encephalitis in Russia.
There is a risk of avian influenza in Russia. More information:
Department of Health
HIV/AIDS is a risk for travellers. Exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection.
Other diseases and health issues
Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including typhoid, rabies, hepatitis, diphtheria, measles and tuberculosis) are prevalent with serious outbreaks occurring from time to time.
- Boil all drinking water or drink bottled water.
- Avoid ice cubes.
- Avoid uncooked and undercooked food.
- Avoid unpasteurised dairy products.
Seek urgent medical attention if you suspect poisoning, if you have a fever or suffer from diarrhoea.
Public medical facilities in Russian cities are significantly below Australian standards and are extremely basic in rural areas.
There are a few international standard private facilities in major cities. Private facilities require up-front payment, evidence of adequate insurance or a written guarantee of payment prior to treatment.
If you become seriously ill or injured, medical evacuation to a destination with appropriate facilities would be necessary. Costs for medical evacuation could be considerable.
Where to get help
Depending on what you need, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, travel agent, travel insurance provider, employer or airline. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.
- Firefighting and rescue services: 101 (from a landline) or 112 (from a mobile phone)
- Medical emergencies: 103 (from a landline) or 112 (from a mobile phone)
- Criminal issues: 102 (from a landline) or 112 (from a mobile phone)
Obtain a police report when reporting a crime.
Tourism services and products
For complaints relating to tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.
The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.
Contact the Australian Embassy in Moscow for a full range of consular services.
Australian Embassy, Moscow
Podkolokolny Pereulok 10a/2
Tel: +7 (495) 956-6070
Fax: +7 (495) 956-6170
If you're in St Petersburg or Vladivostok (or surrounds), you can also contact the relevant Australian Consulate for limited consular assistance.
Australian Consulate, St Petersburg
Mr Sebastian Fitzlyon (Honorary Consul)
14 Petrovskiy prospect, Office 22N
St Petersburg 197110 Russia
Tel: +7 (812) 325 7334
Fax: +7 (812) 334 3326
Australian Consulate, Vladivostok
Mr Vladimir Gorokhov (Honorary Consul)
3, Prospect Krasnogo Znameni
Vladivostok, Russia, 690106
Tel: +7 (423) 244 67 82
Fax: +7 (423) 246 84 25
Australian Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.
If you're unable to contact the Embassy (or Consulate, if relevant) in a consular emergency, call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
Severe weather and climate
Severe winter weather can disrupt travel in Russia. If you're delayed, check when your visa is due to expire and contact local authorities about a visa extension if required.
Every year, a number of people are injured or killed in wind, snow and ice-related accidents. These include falls, traffic accidents, avalanches, snow falling from roofs, falling debris or collapsed roofs and prolonged exposure to extreme cold. Slipping on ice can result in serious damage such as broken bones, back injuries and paralysis.
- Take care when walking in snowy/icy or windy conditions.
- Use appropriate equipment (such as winter tyres or chains) and take care when driving.
- Monitor the news and other local sources for advice on weather conditions and prepare yourself accordingly.
During summer, forest and peat fires can occur in Russia, including in the Moscow region. Fires in 2010 resulted in widespread destruction of property and loss of life.
The North Caucasus and far eastern region of Russia are subject to earthquakes.
All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunamis.
- Take official warnings seriously.
- If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.
Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System