The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.
The authorities in the country or territory that you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
To enter Russia you’ll need to get a visa before you travel. Make sure you allow enough time to get your visa. The Russian Embassy advised in March 2018 that it takes around 20 business days (4 weeks) to process most visa applications. For further information, see the Russian embassy website and the website of VFS Global who manage Russian visa applications.
Special arrangements are in place if you’re travelling to Russia for the 2018 World Cup and have official match tickets. Visit our Be on the Ball page for more information.
As part of the visa application process, all applicants over the age of 12 will need to visit a visa application centre to submit biometric data (scanned fingerprints). The Russian government has also announced plans to introduce biometric fingerprinting for all foreign nationals, including British nationals, when entering Russia. No dates have been confirmed for this.
On receiving your visa you should check the details carefully including the validity dates and passport number to make sure they are correct. Make sure you’re aware of the terms and conditions attached to your visa (for both entry and exit) before you travel. You should adhere to the validity and conditions of your visa while you’re in Russia.
If you intend to stay longer, you should arrange an extension of your visa before it expires. Overstaying your visa without authorisation can result in a delay to your departure, as well as the possibility of fines, court hearings, deportation and a ban from re-entry.
Cruise or ferry passengers can stay in Russia for 72 hours without a visa if they have booked tours through officially licensed companies. You are free to use any authorised travel agency (not just cruise ship tour companies). However, the visa-free exception applies only to those who join an organised tour.
Cities where this applies are:
- St Petersburg
- Korsakov (Sakhalin Island)
If your passport is lost/stolen while ashore and you get a replacement Emergency Travel Document, or you plan to continue your journey by air or land, you must get an exit visa to leave Russia.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months after the expiry date of your visa.
If you’re travelling on a British passport issued since January 2017, you should make sure you’ve signed your passport before you travel. Some British nationals who haven’t signed their new passports have been denied entry into Russia.
On entering Russia you must sign a migration card, which is produced electronically at passport control in the major airports. Some airports may still require you to complete the migration card manually. You must complete a new migration card each time you enter Russia, even if you have a multiple entry visa.
The card is in two identical parts. One part will be retained by the Immigration Officer on arrival. You should keep the other part with your passport. You will need it when you leave Russia, as well as if you’re stopped by the police for an ID check during your stay. There are many hotels and hostels that will not check in guests if they don’t have the immigration card with them. If you lose the second part of the card you’ll be fined and your departure from the country could be delayed.
Travelling between Russia and Belarus
By air: British nationals flying to Russia from Belarus or to Belarus from Russia are subject to immigration control. If you’re transiting Russia when flying to/from Belarus, please contact the nearest Russian embassy or consulate to check if a transit visa is needed.
By road: There are no legal grounds for foreigners (including British nationals) to cross the land border between Russia and Belarus. If you’re planning on entering Russia by road, you’ll need to take an alternative route through a different country.
By rail: If you’re planning on travelling by rail between the two countries, you should contact your train or tour operator when you make your booking to seek their advice. You should also consider contacting your nearest Russian embassy or consulate for advice on the latest situation for rail travellers.
You should make sure you have all the necessary visas for the duration of your travel.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, landside transit and exit from Russia only if they contain a valid Russian visa. The Russian authorities will only put a visa for Russia in an ETD in limited circumstances. Contact the nearest Russian embassy or consulate outside Russia or local migration office in Russia to find out if a visa can be issued. You also need to check with the Russian embassy, consulate or migration office on the required length of ETD validity.
UK ETDs without a visa are accepted for airside transit only. You should check with your travel company or airline that transit zones will be available at the airports of your planned route.
Travelling with medication
You can normally bring prescription and over the counter medication into Russia for personal use. However, if your medication contains narcotic or psychoactive substances (details available on the Rossiyskaya Gazeta website in Russian), you must carry a prescription in your name which has been translated into Russian and then notarised. Notarisation services in the UK are available from a Notary Public.
If you’re unsure whether you need to provide a prescription and notarised translation to bring your medicines into Russia, check with the Russian Embassy in London before you travel.
You can import and export foreign currency up to USD 10,000 (or equivalent) without declaring it.
If you import over USD 10,000 (or equivalent) or certain categories of goods (eg electrical items, jewellery, antiques, valuable musical instruments), you must complete a customs declaration form.
If you wish to import certain advanced electronic items (eg GPS instruments), you must get an operating licence from the Russian authorities before you travel. Check with your nearest Russian embassy or consulate for advice before your departure.
If you complete a declaration, make sure the form is stamped by a customs official at your port of entry, otherwise your foreign currency and non-declared items may be confiscated when you leave Russia and you may be fined.
Keep receipts of any purchases in case you need to present them when you leave Russia.
There are strict regulations covering the export of antiques, artworks (including modern art and posters if they’re particularly rare or valuable) and items of historical significance bought in Russia or imported to Russia from abroad. You’ll need an export permit from the Ministry of Culture to export this type of material and each item must be declared at the point of departure. Don’t attempt to import or export items that require permits without the relevant paperwork as this is a serious offence.
For further information visit the website of the Russian Federal Customs Service.