Road Conditions and Safety: Road conditions and driver safety customs differ significantly from those in the United States. In some more remote areas of Russia, roads are practically nonexistent or have poor or nonexistent shoulders.
- Drivers are required by law to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, and this is generally observed. It is dangerous to cross where there is not a crosswalk present.
- Do not drive outside the major cities at night.
- Construction sites and road hazards are often unmarked.
Traffic Laws: Russian authorities have been known to consider traffic or parking infractions as ?administrative violations? that provide a sufficient basis for deportation and/or denial of entry back to Russia at a later date.
- Drivers must carry third-party liability insurance under a policy valid in Russia.
- You may drive for 60 days using your U.S. driver?s license, with a notarized Russian translation.
- Tourists may also use International Driving Permits issued by the American Automobile Association or the American Automobile Touring Alliance to drive in Russia.
- Russian law requires foreigners on business or employment visas or with permanent residence status to have a Russian driver’s license.
- Driving regulations are strictly enforced and violators are subject to severe legal penalties.
- Russia practices a zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence of alcohol. Authorities can detain an intoxicated driver and your driver?s license can be suspended up to two years.
- If you are involved in an accident, do not move your vehicle from the accident site. You may be held liable if you move your car even if you are not at fault.
- Roadside police checkpoints are commonplace. Be prepared to stop and show identity documents and proof of registration and insurance.
- Moscow and St. Petersburg have extensive, efficient public transit systems, as do many other urban areas in Russia.
- In metropolitan areas, well-marked taxis are generally safe and reliable Do not use unmarked taxis. Passengers have been the victims of robbery, kidnapping, extortion and theft.
See our Road Safety page for more information.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed that the Government of Russia’s Civil Aviation Authority is in compliance with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Russia’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Russia should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the NGA broadcast warnings.
Private medical care in major metropolitan cities and tourism centers in Russia is often equal to Western standards. However, medical care is generally below Western standards in non-metropolitan areas.
- Private medical facilities require payment by cash or credit card before providing services (unless they are life threatening), and are unlikely to accept proof of U.S. insurance as guarantee of future payment. Payment is expected at the time of service.
- The Embassy does not pay the medical bills of private U.S. citizens.
- U.S. Medicare does not provide coverage outside the United States without the purchase of supplemental coverage.
- Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
- Elderly travelers and those with existing health problems are particularly at risk.
- Certain classes of over-the-counter cold medicines, such as those containing pseudoephedrine, are illegal in Russia. We recommend against bringing cold medication with you to Russia.
- Carry a copy of valid U.S. prescriptions, including a notarized translation into Russian of each prescription, when entering Russia with prescription medications.
- Prescription medication should be in its original packaging.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Local laws and Special Circumstances
Arrest Notification: Russia routinely fails to meet its obligation to inform the U.S. Embassy of arrests of U.S. citizens. If you are detained, ask the police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy or Consulate immediately. Your U.S. passport does not protect you from arrest or prosecution. See our webpage for further information.
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to all Russian laws. If you violate these laws, even unknowingly, you may be arrested, fined, imprisoned, or expelled and may be banned from re-entering Russia.
- You can be arrested, detained, fined, deported and banned for 5 years or more if you are found to have violated Russian immigration law.
- Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Russia are severe. Convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
- You can be detained for not carrying your passport with you.
- You can be jailed immediately for driving under the influence of alcohol.
- It is illegal to pay for goods and services in U.S. dollars, except at authorized retail establishments.
- You can be arrested for attempting to leave the country with antiques, even if they were legally purchased from licensed vendors. Cultural value items like artwork, icons, samovars, rugs, military medals and antiques, must have certificates indicating they do not have historical or cultural value. You may obtain certificates from the Russian Ministry of Culture. For further information, please contact the Russian Customs Committee.
- Retain all receipts for high-value items, including caviar.
- You must have advance approval to bring in satellite telephones.
- Global Positioning System (GPS) and other radio electronic devices, and their use, are subject to special rules and regulations in Russia. Contact the Russian Customs Service for required permissions.
Counterfeit and Pirated Goods: Although counterfeit and pirated goods are prevalent in many countries, they may still be illegal according to local laws. You may also pay fines or have to give them up if you bring them back to the United States. See the U.S. Department of Justice website for more information.
Faith-Based Travelers: Russian authorities have detained, fined, and in some cases deported travelers for engaging in religious activities. Russian officials have stated that Russia recognizes four historic religions: Orthodox Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism. The Russian government places restrictions on missionary activity and defines it broadly ? travelers engaging in certain types of religious work may risk harassment, detention, fines, or deportation for administrative violations if they do not have proper authorization from a registered religious group. Russian law criminalizes proselytizing outside of a registered house of worship. The Russian government has detained U.S. citizens for religious activities that they contend are not permitted under a tourist or humanitarian visa. See the Department of State?s International Religious Freedom Report.
LGBTI Travelers: Russian law bans providing "the propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" to minors. Foreign citizens face fines, up to 15 days in jail, and deportation. The law is vague as to what Russia considers propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations.
- Discrimination based on sexual orientation is widespread in Russia. Acts of violence and harassment targeting LGBTI individuals occur.
- Government officials have made derogatory comments about LGBTI persons and violence against the LGBTI community has increased.
- There have been credible reports of arrest, torture, and extrajudicial killing of LGBTI persons in Chechnya allegedly conducted by Chechen regional authorities.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: Getting around in Russia is often difficult for persons with mobility issues. In general, public transportation is not accommodating to people with disabilities. The Moscow Metro, though extremely safe and efficient in other areas, is generally not accessible to persons with disabilities.
- Sidewalks are narrow and uneven.
- Mobility is usually easier in major cities such as Moscow and St. Petersburg.
- Crossing streets in large cities can be difficult, since it usually requires the use of a pedestrian underpass, which includes stairs, steep ramps, and no elevators.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Safety and Security
Terrorism: Terrorist groups, transnational and local terrorist organizations, and lone actors inspired by extremist ideology and messaging continue plotting possible attacks in Russia. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, local government facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, major sporting and cultural events, educational institutions, airports, and other public areas
- Moscow and St. Petersburg have been the targets of terrorist attacks, and bomb threats against public venues are common. If you are at a location that receives a bomb threat, follow all instructions from the local police and security services.
North Caucasus Region: A risk of civil and political unrest continues throughout the North Caucasus region including Chechnya, North Ossetia, Ingushetia, Dagestan, Stavropol, Karachayevo-Cherkessiya, and Kabardino-Balkariya. Local criminal gangs have kidnapped foreigners, including U.S. citizens, for ransom. In the Republic of Chechnya, local authorities may harbor particular hostility towards U.S. travelers.
- Do not travel to Chechnya or any other areas in the North Caucasus region.
- If you reside in these areas, depart immediately.
- U.S. government travel to the region is prohibited, due to ongoing security concerns.
- The U.S. Government has no ability to assist U.S. citizens in the North Caucasus Region.
- Do not attempt to climb Mt. Elbrus, as individuals must pass close to volatile and insecure areas of the North Caucasus region.
- Do not travel to this Russian occupied territory of Ukraine.
- The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Crimea. Contact the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv for questions regarding consular services.
- U.S. government officials are prohibited from traveling to Crimea. See the Departments Travel Advisory for Ukraine.
Harassment: Harassment of U.S.-based religious and student groups can take place in Russia, and you should be aware of the possibility of anti-U.S. sentiment or harassment. U.S. citizens, including current and former U.S. government and military personnel, maybe subject to additional scrutiny by Russian security services. Remain alert, avoid any protests or demonstrations, and use discretion when commenting publicly on political developments. You can find safety and security Alerts on the Embassy?s website.
- Police do not need to show probable cause in order to stop, question, or detain individuals. Please comply with the requests of local law enforcement officials.
- Report harassment or crimes to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow or the nearest U.S. Consulate General.
- Avoid public demonstrations. U.S. citizens who have participated in demonstrations have been arrested by the Russian authorities.
Crime: Crimes against tourists do occur at popular tourist sites and on public transportation. U.S. citizens have been victims of serious crimes when visiting Russia. Russian authorities are not always willing to impartially and thoroughly investigate crimes.
- Be cautious and aware of your surroundings.
- Exercise caution in the vicinity of large crowds.
- Do not leave bags unattended.
- Never leave your drink unattended in a bar or club. Alcohol was a significant factor in most criminal activity reported by foreign visitors.
- Report Credit card or ATM card theft to the credit card company or issuing bank immediately.
- Avoid carrying large sums of cash.
Cybercrime: Cybercrime is a significant problem across Russia. Russian hackers and traditional organized crime structures continue to work together, raising threats to the financial sector. The risk of infection, compromise, and theft via malware, spam e-mail, sophisticated spear phishing, and social engineering attacks is significant. U.S. citizens and companies should remain vigilant against cyber threats and actively use cyber security measures to mitigate risks.
U.S. citizens have no reasonable expectation of privacy in Russia. Telephone and electronic communications are subject to surveillance at any time and without advisory, which may compromise sensitive information. The Russian System for Operational-Investigative Activities (SORM) legally permits authorities to monitor and record all data that traverses Russia?s networks.
Victims of Crime: U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault are encouraged to contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance. Report crimes to the local police at 02 or 102, or 112 if using a mobile phone, and the U.S. Embassy at +7 495 728-5000..
Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime. United States law enforcement agencies do not have jurisdiction to investigate crimes against U.S. citizens that occur on Russian territory.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
- Help you find appropriate medical care
- Assist you in reporting a crime to the police
- Contact relatives or friends with your written consent
- Provide general information regarding the victim?s role during the local investigation and following its conclusion
- Provide a list of local attorneys
- Provide our information on victim?s compensation programs in the U.S.
- Provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical
- Support in cases of destitution
- Help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
- Replace a stolen or lost passport.
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence are encouraged to contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate General for assistance.
Tourism: The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities do not commonly occur. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is typically available only in/near major cities. First responders are generally unable to access areas outside of major cities and to provide urgent medical treatment. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Entry exit Requirementsh
Russian authorities strictly enforce all visa and immigration laws. The Embassy of the Russian Federation website provides the most up to date information regarding visa regulations and requirements. In accordance with Russia?s Entry-Exit Law, Russian authorities may deny entry or reentry into Russia for 5 years or more and cancel the visas of foreigners who have committed two administrative violations within the past three years. Activities that are not specifically covered by the traveler?s visa may result in an administrative violation and deportation.
Under a bilateral agreement signed in 2012, qualified U.S. applicants for humanitarian, private, tourist, and business visas may request and receive multiple-entry visas with a validity of three years or a single entry, three-month validity visa. (Please note that other types of visas are not part of the agreement and those visa holders should pay close attention to the terms of their visas.) You cannot enter Russia prior to the date on your visa, and you must exit Russia before your visa expires. The maximum period of stay is shown on the visa.
- You must have a current U.S. passport with the appropriate visa. Russian visas in an expired or canceled passport are not valid.
- You must obtain a valid visa for your specific purpose of travel before arriving in Russia, unless you are arriving as a cruise ship passenger (see below information for passengers of cruise ships and ferries). Do not attempt to enter Russia before the date shown on your visa. If you are staying in Russia for more than 7 days, you must register your visa and migration card with the General Administration for Migration Issues of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
- Passengers of Cruise Ships and Ferries at St. Petersburg and Vladivostok are permitted to stay in Russia for 72 hours without a visa when accompanied by a tour operator licensed by Russian authorities. Ferry schedules may not permit visitors to stay more than two nights without exceeding the 72-hour limit. If you plan to sightsee on your own, you must have a tourist visa. A visa is also required if you plan to depart Russia by another mode of transportation.
- Cruise ship passengers in St. Petersburg should seek assistance from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow for all emergency and passport services.
- Cruise ship passengers should be aware that loss or theft of a passport and/or migration card could result in the inability to obtain lodging. Hotels and hostels may not allow guests to check in without a passport, a migration card, or Russian visa.
- We recommend U.S. citizens obtain a Russian visa before traveling to Russia, in case of an emergency while in the country, such as unexpected medical issues or if you are not able to return on the cruise ship for any reason.
- Students and English teachers should be certain that their activities are in strict keeping with their visa type. Students must not teach or coach English, whether compensated or not, while traveling on a student visa as it is considered a visa violation and may subject you to detention and deportation.
- Transit visas: We recommend that all passengers transiting through Russia obtain a Russian transit visa.
- With the exceptions noted below, travelers will are not required to have a transit visa if they are transiting through an international airport in Russia, do not leave the Customs zone, and depart from the same airport within 24 hours. Please note the following exceptions.
- Travelers should note that Sheremetyevo Airport terminals D, E, and F include transit zones and do not require transit visas. If however, a passenger arrives at D, E, or F but departs from Sheremetyevo terminal C, a transit visa is required. Sheremetyevo terminal C is located six kilometers away from the other terminals.
- Travelers must have a Russian transit visa if they plan to transit through Russia by land en route to a third country or if they transfer to another airport.
- Travelers must possess a Russian transit visa in addition to a Belarusian visa if their travel route either to or from Belarus goes through Russia.
Dual Nationals: Anyone entering Russia who has claim to Russian citizenship, regardless of any other citizenship held, is fully accountable to the Russian authorities for all obligations of a Russian citizen, including the required military service.
- U.S.-Russian dual nationals and Russian citizens who are Legal Permanent residents of the United States must register their dual nationality/foreign residency. Registration forms and further information (in Russian only) can be found on the website of the General Administration for Migration Issues of the Interior Ministry of Russia.
- U.S.-Russian dual nationals must both enter and exit on a Russian passport. You will not be permitted to depart on an expired passport. Applying for a passport can take several months.
- U.S.-Russian dual nationals who return to Russia on a ?Repatriation Certificate? are only permitted to enter Russia and will not be permitted to depart Russia until they obtain a valid Russian passport.
- Minors who also have Russian citizenship and are traveling alone or in the company of adults who are not their parents, must carry a Russian passport as well as their parents? notarized consent for the trip, which can be obtained at a Russian embassy or consulate, or a U.S. notary public. A consent obtained in the United States from a U.S. notary public must be apostilled, translated into Russian, and properly affixed. Authorities will prevent such minors from entering or leaving Russia if they cannot present this consent.
Crimea: Follow the guidance in the Travel Advisory for Ukraine and do not travel to the Crimean Peninsula.
Documentary Requirements for obtaining a Russian visa: Consult with the Embassy of the Russian Federation for detailed explanations of documentary requirements.
HIV/AIDS Entry Restrictions: Some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions exist for visitors to and foreign residents of Russia. Applicants for longer-term tourist and work visas or residence permits are required to undergo an HIV/AIDS test.
See the Department of State?s Fact Sheet on Russia for information on U.S. – Russia relations.
Travel Embassy and Consulate
Bolshoy Deviatinsky Pereulok No. 8
Moscow 121099, Russian Federation
Telephone: +(7) (495) 728-5000 or +(7) (495) 728-5577
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(7) (495) 728-5000
Fax: +(7) (495) 728-5084
Due to the Russian government?s ordered closure of the U.S. Consulate General, U.S. citizen visitors and residents in the St. Petersburg?s should contact the U.S. Embassy in Moscow for all emergency assistance and routine services, including notary services, passport renewals, and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad.
U.S. Consulate General St. Petersburg
Due to the Russian government?s ordered closure of the U.S. Consulate General, effective March 31, 2018 we are no longer able to provide services to U.S. citizens in St. Petersburg.
U.S. Consulate General Vladivostok
32 Ulitsa Pushkinskaya,
Telephone: +(7) (4232) 300-070
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(7) (914) 791-0067
Fax: +(7) (4232) 300-091
U.S. Consulate General Yekaterinburg
Ulitsa Gogolya 15a,
4th floor, Yekaterinburg 620151
Telephone: +(7) (343) 379-3001
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(7) 917-569-3549
Fax: +(7) (343) 379-4515