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.
You’ll need to get a visa before you travel. The Russian Embassy advised in March 2018 that it takes around 20 business days (4 weeks) to process most visa applications.
As part of the visa application process, all applicants based in the UK aged 12 or over will need to visit a visa application centre to submit biometric data (scanned fingerprints). These are located in London, Manchester and Edinburgh. 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 before you travel. You should adhere to the validity and conditions of your visa while you’re in Russia, as the authorities strictly enforce all visa and immigration laws.
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.
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 if 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.
It’s not possible to enter Russia using a visa in an expired passport, even if carried with a new, valid passport. You will need to apply for a new visa in your new passport.
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.
You must sign an immigration card every time you arrive in Russia. This will be given to you at passport control. The card is in 2 identical parts. One part will be retained by the Immigration Officer. You should keep the other part safe as you’ll need to submit this at passport control when you leave Russia. Should you lose it, your departure from Russia could be delayed. There are also many hotels and hostels that will not accept guests without an immigration card.
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 driving to Russia, 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
If your passport is lost or stolen while you are in Russia, then you will need to obtain a police report from the nearest police station and get a UK Emergency Travel Document (ETD). Once you obtain these, then you will need to apply for an exit visa to leave Russia.
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.
You can import and export foreign currency up to USD 10,000 (or equivalent) without declaring it. And you can export foreign currency up to USD 3,000 (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.