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RUSSIA - Exercise a high degree of caution
Exercise a high degree of caution in Russia due to crime and the threat from terrorism.
Regional advisory - Avoid all travel
Avoid all travel to the following areas:
- districts of Rostov Oblast that border Ukraine
- republics of Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia
- Budyonnosky, Kurski, Levokumsky, Neftekumsky and Stepnovsky districts, in Stavropol Krai (region)
- republics of Kabardino-Balkaria (including the Mount Elbrus region), Karachai-Cherkessia and North Ossetia
If you are currently in one of these areas, you should leave. The ability of the Canadian embassy in Moscow to provide assistance is severely limited or non-existent.
Safety and security
The Russian government has declared a state of emergency and maintains a significant military presence in Rostov Oblast. The situation along the Ukrainian border is unpredictable and could change quickly. Exercise extreme vigilance if you must travel to this region, as armed clashes and violence pose serious threats to your safety. If you are currently in this area, you should strongly consider leaving. The ability of the Embassy of Canada to Russia in Moscow to provide consular assistance in this district is extremely limited.
Republics of Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia, and Stavropol Krai
Terrorist attacks are frequent in the Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia republics and Stavropol region. 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 and regions.
Republics of Kabardino-Balkaria (including the Mount Elbrus region), Karachai-Cherkessia and North Ossetia
Tensions are high in Russia’s border regions with Georgia and may affect the security situation in Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachai-Cherkessia and North Ossetia republics. Military operations are carried out with little or no notice, and are accompanied by travel restrictions. The border crossings to Azerbaijan and Georgia are subject to frequent, sometimes lengthy closures.
There is a threat of terrorism. Terrorist groups have called for attacks on Russian soil. Incidents resulting in death and injury have occurred most frequently in the North Caucasus region, in Moscow and in St. Petersburg, but may happen throughout the country. Further attacks can’t be ruled out.
Targets could include:
- government buildings, including schools
- places of worship
- Russian airlines, airports and other transportation hubs and networks
- public areas such as tourist attractions, cultural venues, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners
Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places.
Russian authorities have increased general security measures in Moscow and other large cities.
Crime against foreigners is a serious problem. Harassment and assaults are prevalent, particularly against foreigners of Asian and African descent. Some victims have died as a result of assaults. Foreigners in the areas to which we advise against all travel are particularly vulnerable. Several journalists and foreign aid personnel working in Russia have been killed or kidnapped. Criminals have targeted and destroyed well-marked aid convoys. Exercise extreme caution in crowds and open markets.
Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse snatching, occurs frequently and is often committed by groups of children and teenagers. Criminals use various techniques to distract the victims, including requests for help. In such situations, walk away quickly. Preferred areas for criminals include:
- underground walkways
- public transportation and transportation hubs
- tourist sites
- restaurants and markets
- hotel rooms and residences (even when occupied and locked)
Reduce your risk of being targeted by travelling in groups with reputable tour agencies.
Avoid showing signs of affluence and ensure personal belongings, including 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.
Criminals may also pose as police officers, particularly in St. Petersburg. Real police officers wear a visible personal identification number on their uniforms. Bogus checkpoints may be set up in rural areas to commit robbery.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula
Tensions on the neighbouring Korean Peninsula could escalate with little notice and the security situation could deteriorate suddenly. Tensions may increase before, during and after North Korean nuclear and missile tests, military exercises or as the result of incidents or military activities at or near the inter-Korean border. Monitor developments, remain vigilant and follow the instructions of local authorities.
Spiked food and drink
Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances. These items may contain drugs that could put you at risk of sexual assault and robbery.
There have been cases of foreigners developing friendships or romantic relationships over the Internet and becoming entangled in financial issues in Russia. Remain vigilant and be aware that we can’t help you recover lost funds or property in such cases.
Only exchange money at major banks. Foreigners have been scammed in the past when exchanging money on the street.
Traffic police may stop motorists to collect fraudulent cash fines on the spot.
Credit card and automated banking machine (ABM) fraud occurs. Be cautious when using debit or credit cards:
- pay careful attention when your cards are being handled by others
- use ATMs located in well-lit public areas or inside a bank or business
- avoid using card readers with an irregular or unusual feature
- cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN
- check for any unauthorized transactions on your account statements
More about overseas fraud
Organized criminal groups are active throughout Russia, particularly in large cities. Extortion and corruption are common business practices, including among foreign businesses. Criminals demand protection money from their victims under threat of serious violence. Report extortion attempts to Russian authorities.
Demonstrations take place. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.
Due to heightened political tensions, be vigilant and don’t discuss political developments in public.
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
More about mass gatherings (large-scale events)
Laws regarding minors involved in demonstrations
Discrimination against LGBTQ2 individuals is common. LGBTQ2 travellers, as well as their friends and families, have been targets of harassment and violence, particularly outside of Moscow.
Learn more about laws affecting LGBTQ2 travellers in Russia.
Road conditions vary and are often poor outside major cities.
Drivers don’t respect traffic laws and often drive and park on pedestrian areas. Accidents are common. Pedestrians should be particularly careful. In the event of an accident, don’t move the vehicle until the police arrive, even if the car is obstructing traffic.
Drive only during the day.
In winter, road travel can be hazardous due to ice and snow.
When travelling by train, store valuables in a safe place and don’t leave the compartment unattended. Lock the door from the inside.
Most major cities have reliable public transportation including buses, subways or streetcars.
Use only registered taxis and don’t share a taxi with strangers. Foreigners have been victims of assault and robbery when using unregistered taxis.
Book taxis in advance either by phone or through taxi company apps. Avoid flagging down taxis on the street, but if you do, negotiate the price before getting into the taxi.
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. Don’t board vessels that appear overloaded or unseaworthy.
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
General information about foreign domestic airlines
Authorities may place foreigners under surveillance. Hotel rooms, telephones, fax machines and e-mail messages may be monitored. Personal possessions in hotel rooms may be searched.
General safety information
Power outages and shortages occur often throughout Russia.
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from the Russian authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada.
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the date you expect to leave Russia.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest diplomatic mission for your destination.
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.
Tourist visa: Required (for those staying in commercial accommodations), exceptions apply
Guest visa: Required (for those staying in private accommodations)
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
Transit visa: Required (including for Belarus), exceptions apply
Exit visa: Required
Foreign visitors must leave Russia once the visa validity period has ended. To extend a visa, a foreign national must arrange with the territorial units of the migration service authorities prior to the validity end date to start the extension process.
You need a tourist visa if you are staying at a hotel or other commercial establishment. Ensure that the hotel registers your visa when you check in.
It is best if you book your travel through a travel agency, which will submit a tourist visa application on your behalf. Canadian travel agents work with Russian travel agencies or companies, which 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 detention upon departure.
You need a guest visa if you intend to stay in private accommodations. The host must obtain an official invitation (priglashenie) from the nearest Russian visa and passport office (UFMS) and send it to you in Canada. You must then take the invitation, the visa application and your passport to a Russian embassy or consulate to apply for the visa.
Foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada
To get a business visa, you need to be sponsored by a Russian individual or organization (the host). It may take up to 3 months for the host to obtain approval for sponsorship from the Ministry of the Interior. Any subsequent change (replacement or extension) to the original visa must be made by the sponsor. A business visa is not a work permit.
You must have a valid visa to be allowed to leave Russia. If your visa expires, your sponsor must apply for an exit visa on your behalf. To avoid problems, including deportation, make sure your visa is valid beyond your intended departure date.
Contact your cruise company to find out if you need to apply for a Russian visa before your cruise starts. International cruise passengers may enter Russia at specific port cities without a visa for up to 72 hours. Your cruise ship tour guide must have all the authorizations required for your entry by the Russian authorities. While in Russia, make sure that you’re able to contact your cruise ship tour guide at any time, in case of emergency or any issue with local authorities.
Some Russian international airports have transit areas that allow for visa-free travel through Russia. If you plan to transit through Russia, check with your transportation carrier to see if transit visa exceptions apply to you.
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, but sometimes they are not available, even at major international airports. Even if that’s the case, you are responsible to find a migration card and fill it out. You must keep and carry part B of the migration card throughout your stay. The card is required for hotel registration.
If the police request to see your migration card, you must comply. You must present it, your passport and your registered visa. You must also present the card to border officials upon departure.
If you hold a multiple-entry visa, you must fill out a new migration card every time you enter Russia.
Loss of this card can result in fines, serious delays or imprisonment at the time of departure.
All foreign visitors must register their arrival within 72 hours of entering the country (excluding weekends and national holidays). If you have made accommodation arrangements with a hotel for your entire trip, the hotel will take care of registering your stay with the authorities.
Visitors staying in private accommodations must register with the territorial office of the Federal Migration Service. Any Russian citizen with a resident registration (propiska) can register a foreigner staying at their home at a local police station or any post office. A small registration fee may apply. The visitor’s host must be present during the process.
Violation of the rules of migration registration may result in a fine. In some cases, visitors may face expulsion from Russia and a ban from re-entering of up to 5 years.
- Migrant registration - Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Customs declaration form
Upon arrival in Russia, you must fill out a customs declaration form, then 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. You may also 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. You must declare any amount greater than RUB3,000. If you fail to declare, in writing, the 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 to 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 to include them.
If you also have Russian citizenship, you 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 into Russia only. If the passport expires during your stay in Russia, you must obtain a new one before leaving. Renewing a Russian passport may take several months.
If you enter Russia with a repatriation certificate issued by Russian authorities in Canada or elsewhere, you may not be allowed to leave on a Canadian passport. This certificate is only valid for one-way travel into Russia.
Learn more about laws affecting dual citizens.
Land border with Belarus
Only local residents are allowed to travel by land from Russia to Belarus. This restriction applies to cars, tour buses and trains.
Health entry requirements
If you are planning to remain in Russia for more than 3 months, you must provide a medical certificate of a negative test for HIV infection. The certificate must be valid for 3 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
Other tests (such as for tuberculosis and leprosy) may be required for individuals staying in Russia for more than 3 months.
Learn about laws on travelling with medication.
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
Children and travel
Learn about travel with children.
- Measles in Europe - February 20, 2019
Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health professional 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.
Outbreaks of measles are ongoing.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that can cause serious complications for some people.
You are at increased risk of measles infection if you have not had the illness or if you are not up to date on your vaccinations.
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 (e.g., are children, have an occupational risk, or in close contact with animals, including free roaming dogs in communities).
- Tick-borne encephalitis is present in some areas of this country.
- It is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).
- It is spread to humans by the bite of infected ticks or when you consume unpasteurized milk products.
- Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to ticks during outdoor activities.
- A vaccine against TBE does exist but is only available in countries where the disease is present.
- Learn more on what you can do to prevent tick-borne encephalitis (TBE)?
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
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.
- There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
About Yellow Fever
Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada
* 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.
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
In some areas in Eastern Europe, certain insects carry and spread diseases like Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, Lyme disease, tick-borne encephalitis, and West Nile virus.
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.
Zika virus infection
Zika virus infection is a risk in this country. The mosquito that spreads the virus is found here.
All travellers should protect themselves from mosquito bites and other diseases spread by insects.
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.
Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.
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 professional.
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
Good health care is only available in major cities. Quality of care varies greatly throughout the country. A few quality facilities exist in larger cities and usually require cash payment upon admission. Medical evacuation, which can be very expensive, may be necessary in the event of serious illness or injury.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
Travel health and safety
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 and culture
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
Authorities frequently perform random identity checks in public places.
You must carry the following identification documents at all times:
- a valid passport with 2 blank pages for stamps
- a valid Russian visa
- an migration card
- a stamped registration notification
You may be fined or detained for failing to provide proper documentation to Russian authorities.
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 to Russia in Moscow.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
Minors participating in demonstrations
It is illegal for minors (those under 18) to participate in unauthorized protests. Adults who involve minors in such protests could face up to 15 days in jail and fines of up to RUB1 million.
Although the laws of Russia do not prohibit homosexual activity, Russian federal law prohibits public actions that are described as promoting homosexuality and “non-traditional sexual relations.”
Public actions that contravene or appear to contravene this law may lead to arrest, a fine and deportation. Examples of such actions include dissemination of information (for example, through public statements) and public displays of affection. Same sex marriage is not recognized in Russia. Homosexuality isn’t socially accepted.
General safety information and advice for LGBTQ2 travellers abroad
Dual citizenship is not legally recognized in Russia.
If local authorities consider you a citizen of Russia, they may refuse to grant you access to Canadian consular services. This will prevent us from providing you with those services.
General information for travellers with dual citizenship
You may also be subject to certain legal obligations, including military service. Seek advice from the nearest Russian embassy or consulate before travelling to Russia.
If you are also a Russian citizen and reside in Russia or hold permanent residency status in another country, you must declare this citizenship or residency status to your local migration office.
More details on this requirement and consequences of non-compliance -Federal Migration Service of the Russian Federation (in Russian only)
Religious activity is heavily regulated in Russia. If you plan to engage in religious activity, such as missionary work, make sure you are not inadvertently violating local laws.
You should carry an international driving permit.
You may drive with a Canadian driver’s licence if you carry it and a Russian translation. You must obtain a local permit if staying longer than 6 months.
The legal blood alcohol content limit is significantly lower than in Canada. Those found guilty of drinking and driving can expect heavy fines, suspension of their driving permit and immediate detention. Repeat offenders may face prison sentences.
The traffic police can impose fines on drivers for traffic violations. They can conduct identity checks on pedestrians, but they are not authorized to impose fines. The same is true of police in the underground metro systems.
More about the International Driving Permit
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.
If you are travelling with medication, even over-the-counter medication, you must have a doctor’s note translated to Russian confirming that you need the medication. Contact the Embassy of the Russian Federation for up-to-date information.
Foreign diplomatic missions and consulates in Canada
Imports and exports
The importation and use of electronic equipment are strictly controlled. Foreigners have faced charges of espionage for possessing improperly certified GPS 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 may have cultural value. Customs officials may conduct thorough baggage searches and can arrest you if you don’t have the necessary certificate.
Contact the nearest Russian embassy or consulate, or consult the Federal Customs Service prior to departure for up-to-date information on customs requirements.
The currency of Russia 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; well-worn or used U.S. banknotes may not be accepted. ATMs are common in main cities. ATMs will accept cards with 4-digit pin numbers, but you may experience problems with cards with 5- or 6-digit pin codes. In major cities, you can usually exchange Euros and U.S. dollars at various banks.
Natural disasters and climate
Parts of Russia, such as Chechnya, the Kamchatka Peninsula and the Kuril Islands, are prone to seismic or volcanic activity.
Spring flooding and summer forest fires occur throughout Siberia and parts of western Russia.
In the summer months, the Moscow region can be affected by forest fires. The air quality in areas near active fires may deteriorate due to heavy smoke. In case of a major fire, stay away from the affected area, particularly if you suffer from respiratory ailments. Always follow the instructions of local emergency services personnel. Monitor local media for up-to-date information on the situation.
In case of emergency, dial 112 or:
- police: 102
- medical assistance: 103
- firefighters: 101
Moscow - Embassy of Canada
Vladivostok - Consulate of Canada
For calls originating inside Russia the “7” should be replaced by an “8”.
For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada in Moscow and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are 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 to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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