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 media and other sources of information for new safety and security risks.
- 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 some parts of the North Caucasus, such as Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia, North Ossetia, the south-east part of Stavropol bordering Chechnya, Karbardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia, because of the high threat of terrorist activity.
- 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. Russian intervention in the conflict in Syria has heightened Russia's profile with terrorists linked to or inspired by the conflict. See
Safety and security.
- Terrorism 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, especially in public places. See
Safety and security.
Avoid large public gatherings, as they may turn violent. See
Safety and security.
- Foreigners aren't permitted to cross the land border between Russia and Belarus. Travel between Russia and Belarus by air. See
Entry and exit.
- 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 isn't 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 visa type doesn't 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, intention of stay and validity dates. If not accurate, return it to the Russian Embassy or Consulate for correction. 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 some port cities, including St Petersburg. Visa-free entry permissions allow you 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 transit through Russia on the way to a third country, check transit visa requirements. If you're travelling between Russia and Belarus, you must obtain visas for both countries. 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
Embassy or Consulate of Russia for up-to-date information.
Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs
All foreign visitors receive a migration card on arrival in Russia. If provided a migration card in paper form, keep the stamped exit portion of the card with your passport, as you'll need to provide it to passport control on your 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. Retain the stamped migration card as you'll need to present it when exiting the last of the two countries visited.
If you lose your migration card, a replacement can be requested from the Russian
Ministry of Internal Affairs 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.
Travelling with children
The importation of electrical and some high technology equipment is strictly controlled.
- For example, Russian Customs has 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.
You'll need to show evidence of advance approval to import a satellite phone. Approval can be obtained from the
Federal Service for the Supervision of Communications.
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
Travel between Russia and Belarus
Foreigners aren't permitted to cross the land border between Russia and Belarus. Travel between Russia and Belarus by air. Contact the
Embassy of Russian and the
Embassy of Belarus for up-to-date information.
While in Russia
Ensure you register with the Russian
Ministry of Internal Affairs 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. If you don't register, you can be fined and it could delay your departure.
If your Australian passport is lost or stolen while you're in Russia, you'll need to obtain a new visa to exit Russia. To arrange a new visa:
- obtain an official police report
- apply for a replacement passport through the Australian Embassy in Moscow and
- apply to Russian authorities for an exit visa (include the police report with your application).
If you replace your passport while in Russia, ensure your visa is transferred into the new passport.
Make sure you leave Russia before your visa expires. Some visas, including tourist visas, can't be extended.
If you overstay your visa, you won't be allowed to leave Russia until the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs determines your legal status or an order is issued to deport you. You can be detained until the authorities process your case. Penalties for overstaying include fines, deportation and/or bans 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 as it's 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.
Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months from the date you intend to return to Australia and in good condition. Travellers have been refused entry to Russia when their passport has less validity or is in poor condition.
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're forced to hand over your passport, contact the
Australian Embassy for advice.
If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible.
The currency of Russia is the Rouble (RUB). Declare all amounts in excess of RUB3,000 on departure.
Declare cash of more than USD10,000 (or foreign currency equivalent) when entering and exiting Russia. Make sure a customs official stamps your incoming declaration as only stamped declarations are valid. Carry proof that your funds were imported and declared, or legally obtained in Russia.
Federal Customs Service
Only exchange money at banks. Travellers have been victims of fraud when trying to exchange money with strangers in the street or in a bank queue.
Major bank 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 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 aren't widely accepted, even in Moscow and St Petersburg.
Safety and security
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world.
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 terrorist 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 Volgograd caused a number of deaths and injuries.
The terrorism threat is underscored by frequent statements from Russian authorities about 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.
Do not travel to parts of the North Caucasus, such as Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia, North Ossetia, the south-east part of Stavropol bordering Chechnya, Karbardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia, because of the high threat of terrorist activity. The Australian Government is extremely limited in its capacity to provide consular assistance in those parts of North Caucasus.
If, despite our advice, you travel to these parts of the North Caucasus, monitor local conditions (including through the media and travel operators) in advance of your travel and take appropriate personal security measures.
Tensions in Georgia may impact on security in the Georgia-Russia border area. If, despite our advice, you travel in the border region, read the Georgia travel advice.
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 media 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's safe to do so.
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 rallies, demonstrations and other large public gatherings. Involvement in unauthorised demonstrations or protests is illegal and you can be arrested.
Ukraine border areas and Crimea
Reconsider your need to travel to regions along the Russia-Ukraine border. 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.
Do not travel to Crimea. The Australian Government doesn't recognise Russia's purported annexation of the Ukrainian region of Crimea. Some Russian tour operators offer package tours that include travel to Crimea.
Travel advice for the Ukraine
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 Izmailovsky Market, and the Moscow and 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 been victims of fraud 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 banks 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 parts of the Northern Caucasus, such as Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia, North Ossetia, the south-east part of Stavropol bordering Chechnya, Karbardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia. In the past, foreigners have been targeted. The Australian Government's longstanding policy is that it doesn't 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 to Chechnya or one of several other places in the North Caucasus, you must first get permission from the Russian
Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Several other areas of Russia, especially in Siberia and the Russian Far East, are also '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 Russian
Ministry of Internal Affairs before committing to travel.
Drivers are often dangerous and erratic. 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.
Road safety and driving
Some taxis appear official but aren't licensed 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 doesn't 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 terms of imprisonment.
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.. 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 aren't acceptable. If you fail to provide travel documentation on request, you can be detained and face substantial fines.
The following activities are illegal in Russia:
- taking photos of military establishments, sites of strategic important and other sensitive areas, such as passports control at airports and guarded railway sites
- 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:
Penalties include fines, imprisonment and deportation. Contact the
Embassy or Consulate of Russia for more information.
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 surrogacy
Some Australian documents, such as birth or marriage certificates, need to be legalised before they will be accepted by Russian authorities. If you have an Australian document that you intend to use while in Russia, confirm with the
Embassy or Consulate of Russia what 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, including child pornography
- female genital mutilation
- drug trafficking
- people smuggling and human trafficking
- forced marriage
- money laundering
Staying within the law
Russia doesn't recognise dual nationality. If you're a dual national, Russian authorities won't recognise your Australian nationality and will treat you like any other national of Russia.
If you're a dual national and 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 Russian passport (though you can enter Russia using a repatriation certificate (svidetelstvo na vozvrashcheniye) if you don't have a Russian passport)
- you must, declare any other citizenships or foreign residency permits to the Russian
Ministry of Internal Affairs
- you could be conscripted into the Russian military, if you're male and between the ages of 18 and 27.
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. You can't depart Russia 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 aren't 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 security forces.
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 won't pay for your 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 aren't covered under your policy
- that you're covered for the whole time you'll be away.
Physical and mental health
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 in Canberra 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 sufficient prescription medicines so you remain in good health.
Make sure you comply with Russia's strict laws concerning the importation 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:
- contact the
Embassy of Russia for up-to-date information on restrictions and requirements for bringing medicines into Russia
- arrange a signed letter from your doctor and notarised translation.
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.
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 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.
Severe winter weather can disrupt travel in Russia. If you're delayed, 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 injury such as broken bones, back injuries and paralysis.
- Take care when walking in snowy/icy or windy conditions.
- Take care when driving. Use appropriate equipment, such as winter tyres or chains.
- Monitor the media and other local sources of information 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
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.
Emergency phone numbers
- 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)
Always 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.
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
Phone: +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
Phone: +7 (812) 325 7334
Fax: +7 (812) 334 3326
Australian Consulate, Vladivostok
Mr Vladimir Gorokhov (Honorary Consul)
3, Prospect Krasnogo Znameni
Vladivostok, Russia, 690106
Phone: +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 in a consular emergency, call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas, or 1300 555 135 from within Australia.