Local laws and customs

Don’t become involved with drugs. You can expect a long sentence for possession of even small quantities of drugs, regardless of whether they are ‘hard’ or ‘soft’

You must carry your original passport at all times. A copy will not be sufficient. If you can’t produce your passport when asked, you will be fined.

Homosexuality is legal in Russia, but there is still intolerance among some sections of the population. Be careful about public displays of affection.

In June 2013 a law banning the promotion of ‘non-traditional sexual relations’ entered into force, but the definition and scope of prohibited activity is vague. Foreign nationals convicted under this law could face arrest and detention, fines and deportation. There have been reports that instances of harassment, threats, and acts of violence towards the LGBT community have increased following the introduction of the law. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

Photographing any military establishment or site of strategic importance (including airports) is banned. You are likely to be detained for questioning or arrested if you are caught.

You’ll need to get official permission from the Russian aviation authority before using any unmanned aircraft systems (drones) in Russian airspace. You must inform them of the flight route at least 24 hours in advance and keep in regular contact with them before and during the flight. Failure to do so will result in a fine.

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. Export permits are never issued at the airport. You must get one in advance.

You may also need to present the items at Customs. You may not be able to get an export permit for items over 100 years old. Don’t attempt to export items that require permits without the relevant paperwork as this is a serious offence in Russia.

Keep receipts of any purchases in case you need to present them when you leave Russia.