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RUSSIA - Exercise a high degree of caution
There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Russia. However, you should exercise a high degree of caution due to crime.
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advises against all travel to the following areas:
- republics of Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan;
- republics of Karachai-Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkaria (including the Mount Elbrus region) and North Ossetia;
- Budyonnosky, Levokumsky, Neftekumsky, Stepnovsky and Kurski districts, in the region of Stavropol Krai;
- districts of the Rostov Oblast that border Ukraine.
If you are currently in one of these areas, you should leave. The ability of the Embassy of Canada in Moscow to provide assistance is severely limited or non-existent.
See Security for more information.
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.
The Russian government has declared a state of emergency in Rostov Oblast, where it maintains a significant military presence. The situation along the Ukrainian border is unpredictable and could evolve quickly. Exercise extreme vigilance if you must travel to this region, as armed clashes and violence pose serious threats to your security. If you are currently in this area, you should strongly consider leaving. The ability of the Embassy of Canada in Moscow to provide consular assistance in these districts is extremely limited.
Republics of Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan (see Advisory)
Despite the end of the Chechen War in 2009, there remains an insurgency in the North Caucasus, during which terrorist attacks are frequent. The security situation is unstable and dangerous. Suicide bombings occur on a regular basis and targeted assassinations have also taken place. Unexploded mines and munitions are widespread. Kidnapping for ransom is also common.
You must obtain special permission from the Ministry of the Interior to enter certain areas of the country.
Republics of Karachai-Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkaria (including the Mount Elbrus region) and North Ossetia (see Advisory)
Tensions remain high in the border regions with Georgia since the 2008 conflict in South Ossetia, and may affect the security situation in the republics of Karachai-Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkaria and North Ossetia. Military operations are carried out with little or no notice, and are accompanied by travel restrictions. The border crossings to Georgia and Azerbaijan are subject to frequent, sometimes lengthy closures.
Terrorist incidents have occurred most frequently in the North Caucasus and in Moscow, but may happen throughout Russia. Exercise caution in public places, particularly on public transport (including subways, railways, airports and buses), and during large gatherings and events.
On December 29, 2013, an explosive device was detonated inside the main railway station of the city of Volgograd; on December 30, another explosive device was detonated on a public bus in the same city. These incidents caused deaths and injuries. Security measures have been reinforced throughout Russia, specifically in the Volgograd region. The Domodedovo International Airport and the Moscow subway system have also been targeted by terrorist attacks
Remain vigilant, monitor local news reports and follow the advice of local authorities. Authorities perform random identity checks frequently in public places.
Crime against foreigners is a serious problem. Harassment and attacks are prevalent, especially for foreigners of Asian and African descent. Some victims have died. Foreigners in the areas to which we advise against all travel (see above) are particularly vulnerable. Several journalists and local aid personnel have been killed or kidnapped. Criminals have targeted and destroyed well-marked aid convoys
Exercise extreme caution in crowds and places frequented by skinhead groups, including open markets.
Violent crime is common. Pickpocketing, assaults and robberies occur frequently and are often committed by groups of children and teenagers. Criminals employ various techniques to distract the victims, including luring people to help them. In such situations, walk away quickly. Underground walkways, public transport, tourist sites, restaurants, transport hubs, markets, and hotel rooms and residences (even when occupied and locked are preferred targets. Reduce your risk of being targeted by travelling in groups with reputable tour agencies.
Criminals may also pose as police officers, particularly in St. Petersburg. Real police officers wear a visible personal identification number on their uniforms. Avoid showing signs of affluence and ensure personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times. Replacing travel documents and visas is difficult, and could considerably delay your return to Canada.
Cases of drugging followed by robbery and assault have been reported. Do not accept food and drinks from strangers, and do not leave food and drinks unattended in bars, nightclubs or restaurants. Order only bottled drinks in order to minimize risk.
Bogus checkpoints may be set up in rural areas in order to commit robbery.
Traffic police may stop motorists to collect fraudulent cash fines on the spot.
Credit card and automated banking machine (ABM) fraud occurs. Pay careful attention when your cards are being handled by others during payment processing.
Organized criminal groups remain active throughout Russia, especially in large cities. Credit card fraud is one type of activity. Extortion and corruption are common business practices, including among foreign businesses. Criminals demand protection money under threat of serious violence. Report extortion attempts to Russian authorities
Rallies, protests and demonstrations occur in Russia. They can lead to significant disruptions in traffic and public transportation. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
Use only registered taxis and do not share a taxi with strangers. Negotiate the price before getting into a taxi.
Road conditions vary and are often poor outside major cities. Traffic regulations are mostly ignored. Road accidents are common and pedestrians should be particularly careful. In the event of an accident, do not move the vehicle until the police arrive, even if the car is obstructing traffic. Drive only during daylight hours.
When travelling by train, store valuables in a safe place and do not leave the compartment unattended. Lock the door from the inside.
Boat accidents are common due to the overloading and poor maintenance of some vessels. Safety standards differ from those in Canada. Exercise caution and common sense when using marine transportation. Do not board vessels that appear overloaded or unseaworthy.
See Transportation Safety in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
Fraud has been reported by victims developing friendships or romantic relationships over the Internet and becoming entangled in financial issues. Remain vigilant and be aware that neither the Embassy of Canada in Moscow or Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada can help you recover lost funds or property in such cases.
See our Overseas Fraud page for more information on scams abroad.
General safety information
Power outages and shortages occur often throughout Russia.
Dial 01 for fire, 02 for police and 03 for ambulance.
It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry requirements. The following information on entry and exit requirements has been obtained from the Russian authorities. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of the Russian Federation or one of its consulates for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Russia, which must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of expected departure from that country. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Canadians must be in possession of a visa to visit Russia. Visa applications must be submitted electronically, via the Embassy of the Russian Federation’s website.
Contact a Russian embassy or consulate prior to travelling to make sure you are aware of all entry and exit requirements pertaining to your stay in Russia (prior to arrival in Russia and upon exiting the country).
Tourist visa: Required (for those staying in commercial accommodations)
Guest visa: Required (for those staying in private accommodations)
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
Transit visa: Required (including for Belarus)
Exit visa: Required
You require a tourist visa if you are staying at a hotel or other commercial establishment. Ensure that the hotel registers your visa.
Canadian travel agencies must submit a tourist visa application on your behalf. Canadian travel agents work with Russian travel agencies or companies, who act as sponsors for tourist visas. In cases of expired tourist visas or lost or stolen Canadian passports, only the visa-sponsoring travel agency is authorized to apply for a new tourist visa on your behalf. Extensions are not issued. Holders of expired visas face heavy fines or imprisonment upon departure.
International cruise passengers may enter Russia without a visa for up to 7 days, provided that they are accompanied by a guide with all of the authorizations required by the Russian authorities.
You require a guest visa if you intend to stay in private accommodations. The host must obtain an official invitation (Priglashenie) from the local UFMS (local Russian visa and passport office) and send it to you (the guest) in Canada. You must then take the invitation and your passport to a Russian embassy or consulate, which will issue the visa. Upon arrival, you must register at a local police station.
A business visa requires sponsorship by a Russian individual or organization. It may take up to three months for the host to obtain approval for sponsorship from the Ministry of the Interior. Any subsequent changes (replacement or extension) to the original visa must be made by the sponsor. A business visa is not a work permit.
Foreign journalists cannot work in Russia without a special accreditation issued by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). The accreditation can only be obtained through a formal request addressed to the Press Office of the MFA by the Embassy of Canada in Moscow, regardless of who is the inviting Russian sponsor. Journalists must submit the following documents well ahead of planned travel and prior to their Russian visa request:
- a copy of their passport;
- precise travel dates to cities where they wish to do reporting;
- the invitation letter of the Russian sponsor;
- the events they wish to cover;
- their Canadian journalist identification;
- a detailed description of the subject matter of their proposed reporting; and
- the name of the Russian embassy or consulate where they will be applying for their visa.
Journalists wishing to travel to controlled areas (such as Chechnya) will require separate permission to enter the area.
An exit visa is required to leave or re-enter Russia during an extended stay. The exit visa must be obtained by your sponsor after arrival. The Embassy of Canada cannot act as a sponsor.
Health entry requirements
If you are planning to remain in Russia for more than three months, you must provide a medical certificate of a negative test for infection by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The certificate must be valid for three months from the date of testing and include:
- passport details (full name, date of birth, passport number and country of residence);
- HIV test information (date of test, test results, and signatures of the doctor who performed the test and the person examined);
- the length of your intended stay in Russia; and
Other tests (such as tuberculosis and leprosy) may be required for individuals staying in Russia for more than three months.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
You must complete a migration card upon your arrival in Russia. These cards are usually distributed on flights and trains entering Russia or at points of entry. Sometimes they are not available, even at major international airports. It is your responsibility to obtain a migration card and fill it out. Holders of multiple-entry visas must fill out a new card every time they enter the country. Part A of the card is deposited with immigration officials upon arrival. Part B is held throughout the stay and must be shown to the police, together with the passport and registered visa, upon request and submitted to border officials upon departure. The migration card is also required for hotel registration. Loss of this card can result in fines, serious delays or imprisonment at the time of departure.
If you are vising multiple destinations, you must register with Russian authorities within seven working days (including arrival and departure days) of your arrival at each separate destination. Your host or your employer can perform this registration. Failure to register will result in a fine, and you could experience problems when trying to re-enter Russia at a future date.
Customs declaration form
Upon arrival in Russia, you must fill out a customs declaration form, go through the red customs line and have the form stamped by a customs official. Without the stamp, any undeclared currency and valuables—including items that could be considered antique—may be confiscated upon departure.
You must declare amounts of currency exceeding US$10,000 at border crossings, and you may have to provide information on the origin of the money and its intended use. Currency exceeding the amount stated on the declaration form will be confiscated if you have not obtained an official bank receipt authorizing the clearance of these sums. The declaration form must be kept until departure.
Upon departure, you must fill out a second customs declaration form and present the two forms to a customs official. If you fail to declare in writing any amount of currency in your possession, the undeclared currency and valuables may be confiscated and you may be detained and face criminal charges leading to imprisonment.
Special permits and restricted areas
Travel and residency in several Russian cities and regions is restricted. You must obtain permission from local authorities prior to entering a restricted city or region. Failure to do so may result in arrest, fines and/or deportation. Attach an itinerary to your visa application to avoid delays. Some areas must be specifically indicated in the visa and you may have to pay an extra fee in order to include them.
Dual citizens must enter and leave Russia on a Russian passport. If your Russian passport expires prior to travel, Russian authorities in Canada can extend it for entry purposes only. If the passport expires during your stay in Russia, you must obtain a new one before leaving. The renewal of a Russian passport may take several months.
If you are entering Russia with a repatriation certificate issued by Russian authorities in Canada or elsewhere, you may not be allowed to leave with a Canadian passport. This certificate is only valid for one-way travel into Russia.
See Laws and culture tab for more information.
Violating entry and exit requirements may result in serious penalties.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
- Measles: Global Update - March 13, 2015 13:54 EDT
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Japanese encephalitis is a viral infection that can cause swelling of the brain. It is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Risk is low for most travellers. Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to mosquito bites (e.g., spending a large amount of time outdoors) while travelling in regions with risk of Japanese encephalitis.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Rabies is a deadly illness spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
Tick-borne encephalitis is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system. It is spread to humans by the bite of an infected tick. Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to ticks (e.g., those participating in outdoor activities in wooded areas) while travelling in regions with risk of tick-borne encephalitis.
Yellow Fever Vaccination
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
|* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in Eastern Europe, food and water can also carry diseases like hepatitis A. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Eastern Europe. When in doubt, remember…boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Insects and Illness
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever
Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever is a viral disease that typically causes fever, bleeding under the skin, and pain. Risk is generally low for most travellers. It is spread to humans though contact with infected animal blood or bodily fluids, or from a tick bite. Protect yourself from tick bites and avoid animals. There is no vaccine available for Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever.
There is no risk of malaria in this country.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, snakes, rodents, and bats. Certain infections found in Eastern Europe, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
Medical services and facilities
Standards of medical care may differ from those in Canada. A few quality facilities exist in larger cities and usually require cash payment upon admission.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws & culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
An International Driving Permit is recommended.
Illegal or restricted activities
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
There is zero tolerance for drinking and driving.
Although homosexual activity is not illegal in Russia, a federal law has been passed that prohibits public actions that are described as promoting homosexuality and “non-traditional sexual relations”. This law could render any homosexual and pro-homosexual statements punishable. Public actions (including dissemination of information, statements, displays or conspicuous behaviour) that contravene or appear to contravene this law may lead to arrest, the imposition of a fine and deportation.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender travellers, as well as their friends and families, have been targets of harassment and violence.
Taking photos of railways, bridges, dams, airports, train stations, the underground Metro system and all official buildings is prohibited. Incidents have occurred at marketplaces where Canadians have taken photos of market stalls and found themselves remanded to market police. Cameras, film and other equipment may be confiscated, and fines payable in cash on the spot may be imposed. Ask permission before taking photographs.
You may be fined or detained for failing to provide proper documentation to Russian authorities. Carry your original passport (photocopies are not acceptable), entry/exit visa and registered migration card at all times. Failure to provide identification documents could result in heavy fines or a jail sentence.
The traffic police can only stop motorists and impose fines for traffic violations. Although they can also conduct identity checks on pedestrians, they have no authority to impose fines. The same is true of police in the underground Metro systems. Only the special police of the Federal Migration Bureau have the authority to arrest, detain, and impose fines on improperly documented foreigners. If you are stopped in the street and requested to pay a fine, ask to see the officer's name and identification and to contact the Embassy of Canada in Moscow.
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in Russia. If local authorities consider you a Russian citizen, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services, thereby preventing Canadian consular officials from providing you with those services. You should travel using your Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
Russian citizens residing in Russia who also possess a foreign citizenship or permanent residency status in another country must declare this citizenship or residency status to their local migration office. See the Federal Migration Service of the Russian Federation (in Russian only) for more details on this requirement and consequences of non-compliance.
The ability of Canadian officials to provide consular services may be limited.
Men between 18 and 27 years of age may be subject to military service. Seek advice from the nearest Russian embassy or consulate before travelling to Russia.
Importation / exportation
Russia has very strict rules on the importation of medication: certain prescription and over-the-counter drugs that are common in Canada may be prohibited, and large quantities of any medicine will be scrutinized.
The importation and use of electronic equipment are strictly controlled. Foreigners have faced charges of espionage for possessing improperly certified GPS (Global Positioning System) devices, such as those used for geological mapping.
You must obtain a certificate from the Ministry of Culture to export items that appear old (prior to 1945) or that have cultural value. Customs officials may conduct thorough baggage searches and may arrest you if you do not have the necessary certificate.
Contact the nearest Russian embassy or consulate, or consult the Federal Customs Service website prior to departure for up-to-date information on customs requirements.
The currency is the Russian ruble (RUB). It is illegal to pay for goods and services in foreign currency. You can exchange U.S. dollars at any exchange counter. Carry new, crisp bills, as well-worn or used U.S. banknotes may not be accepted. Do not rely on credit cards, travellers’ cheques and bank cards as methods of payment or to obtain cash. Traveller’s cheques can be cashed only at a few locations in Moscow, such as American Express offices. Credit cards and traveller’s cheques are not widely accepted outside Moscow and St. Petersburg. Automated banking machines (ABMs) are common in main cities.
Natural disasters & climate
Natural disasters & climate
Parts of Russia are prone to seismic or volcanic activity, such as Chechnya, the Kuril Islands and the Kamchatka Peninsula.
Spring flooding and summer forest fires occur throughout Siberia and parts of western Russia. Heavy rains caused flash floods and landslides in the Krasnodar region in July 2012, killing at least 170 people and injuring more than 320.
Moscow - Embassy of Canada
Vladivostok - Consulate of Canada
For calls originating inside Russia the “7” should be replaced by an “8”.For emergency assistance after hours, call the Embassy of Canada in Moscow and follow the instructions. You can also call the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa toll-free at 810-800-201-41012 (this number may not be accessible from all locations) or call collect 613-996-8885.
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