This bulletin has been updated with information for Australians attending the XI Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia from 7 to 16 March 2014. It should be read in conjunction with our travel advice for Russia and our General Advice to Australian Travellers on the Smartraveller website. We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Russia due to the threat of terrorism and the level of criminal activity.
Australian citizens are required to obtain a visa to visit Russia. You should contact the nearest Russian Embassy or Consulate for the latest information on visa requirements. Your passport must be valid for a minimum of 6 months after your departure date from Russia.
A shortage of hotel accommodation is expected during the Winter Games. You should ensure that your hotel booking is confirmed prior to departing for Russia.
You must register with the Federal Migration Services within seven working days of arrival in Russia. Most hotels undertake visa registration on behalf of guests. If you are staying in private accommodation, make sure that the owner of the property does this for you.
Tickets and Spectator Passes
You must purchase your tickets from an official retailer. Spectators may be refused entry with tickets purchased from an unauthorised retailer. Scalping and re-selling tickets is illegal.
A Spectator Pass is required for access to the Olympic Park, competition venues and ceremony venues. You will need to present your Spectator Pass in addition to your Paralympic tickets to gain access to an event. You can apply for a Spectator Pass at the following website.
There is an ongoing threat of terrorism in Russia. Travellers should be aware that threats have been made by terrorist groups against the Sochi Games. Terrorist attacks have occurred in Russian cities, including Moscow, and are a particular threat in the North Caucasus region, which is close to Sochi. Previous targets of terrorist activity have included public transport and transport hubs, and public places frequented by foreigners.
In light of the security environment, Russian authorities have announced that special security arrangements will be in place at Games venues, airports, border crossings and other sensitive areas, including restrictions on carrying liquids on flights originating in Russia. The ‘no liquids’ policy means that no liquids may be carried on board aircraft and must instead be packed in checked luggage. You should contact your airline for further guidance.
As public transport has been targeted in recent terrorist attacks, including those in Volgograd in December 2013, where possible, Australians should minimise the use of public transport not associated with the Games.
Russian authorities have placed special restrictions on various items, including food, beverages and medication, at Games venues. Check the Sochi website for a detailed list of items that cannot be taken to the Games. Allow extra time to clear security checks, including around Games venues, and follow the instructions of local authorities. Authorities have advised that accessible screening areas will be available for spectators with disabilities.
For more information on the threat of terrorism in Russia, please see our travel advice for Russia.
Money and valuables
Only cash and Visa branded cards will be accepted at the Games, so plan accordingly.
Police will conduct routine identification checks, so you need to securely carry your passport with you at all times, including to Games events.
Latest event information
Event times at the Games are subject to change. Regularly check the official website of the Paralympic Games for the latest event schedules, transportation and more information for spectators.
There might be political rallies in Sochi, Moscow and elsewhere in Russia. Avoid demonstrations. Any involvement in unsanctioned demonstrations or protests could lead to arrest.
Where to get help
For visitor information, the city of Sochi is operating a 24 hour, multi-lingual call centre, available on 8-800-234-2014. English speaking representatives will be available to respond to inquiries about medical facilities, transportation, accommodation and other services and facilities available in Sochi.
Local emergency services can be contacted by dialling 112 from a mobile phone. From a public phone, dial 02 for police and 03 for an ambulance.
You can obtain consular assistance from the Australian Embassy, Moscow. See Where to get help in the travel advice for Russia.
During the Winter Games, you can obtain consular assistance from an Australian Embassy representative who will be based in Sochi by telephone on +7 (862) 2968415 or email at Sochi2014consular@gmail.com.
In a consular emergency, if you are unable to contact the Embassy, you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.
Register, subscribe, insure
We strongly recommend that you register your travel plans with us, so that we can contact you in case of an emergency. Please subscribe to the travel advice for Russia and this travel bulletin to ensure that you receive an email notification each time these are reissued with new information about the Paralympic games.
We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you will be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy.