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Travel Advice for 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games

Advice for people travelling to Sochi for the XXII Olympic Winter Games 7-23 February and the XI Paralympic Winter Games 7-16 March 2014.

As well as the advice below, you should check our travel advice for Russia before you travel. You can sign up for alerts to receive updates to the Russia travel advice. You may also wish to visit the official Sochi Olympic Games website and guide for spectators, and the official website of the Olympic Movement. You can also download our handy leaflet: Top tips for travelling to Sochi

Passports, visas and health insurance

Please check your passport and visa details:

  • British citizens need a visa to travel to Russia, and your passport should be valid for a further six months after your Russian visa expiration date

  • if you’re staying for more than 7 working days you must register with the local branch of the Federal Migration Service; most major hotels will do this automatically – if you’re staying in private accommodation the owner of the property must do this for you

  • your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is not valid in Russia, so travel insurance is essential, even if you’re only going for one night – it could save you a lot of money if you find yourself in difficulty

  • it is essential you carry your passport with your Russian visa and migration/registration card with you at all times, as the police conduct ID checks and want to see original documentation – you should carry your passport to the Games’ venues to gain entry

  • if you lose your passport or have it stolen, you should report the loss to the local police as soon as possible in the first instance and obtain a police report or confirmation of loss from the police; the British Embassy can then provide you with an emergency travel document (ETD) and advice on how to obtain an exit visa so that you can leave Russia and return home

Terrorism

Please check the latest travel advice regarding the threat from terrorism in Russia regularly.

Local and regional travel

Advice for travelling in the region:

  • please check the latest travel advice on local travel within Russia

  • Sochi borders the Georgian breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which you should avoid entering – please see our travel advice for Georgia

Tips

Minimise the risks:

  • please comply with security procedures and the rules/regulations at the venues, which are in place to ensure a safe games for everyone; the police conduct ID checks and want to see originals, so carry your passport at all times

  • prescription medication will only be allowed into the Games venues if it is accompanied with a copy of the prescription

  • carry a note of the address of your hotel (in both English and Russian) – it can help people give you directions and ensure that taxi drivers know where you want to go

  • keep the number of valuables you carry to a minimum - passport, a credit card, your phone and some money – and ensure they are secure (not in back pockets)

  • change money at a bank, hotel, or in exchange kiosks – it is illegal to exchange money in the street

  • carry the contact number for your travel insurer at all times

  • carry the address and telephone number of the Embassy so you can call for help

  • leave a copy of your passport and other important documents safe in your hotel in case you lose the originals

  • homosexuality is legal in Russia, but there is still a degree of intolerance among some sections of the population; be careful about public displays of affection

  • a law banning the promotion of “non-traditional sexual relationships” entered into force in June 2013, which may affect public statements and assemblies on Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) issues; it is unclear how this law will be applied, but it includes tougher penalties for non-Russians including arrest, fines and deportation

  • although most visitors experience no difficulties, racially motivated attacks do occur in Russia; if you’re of Asian or Afro-Caribbean descent you should take extra care

  • political rallies may occur in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other places across Russia – check media for the latest information, be vigilant, and avoid any demonstrations

  • as in any other city beware of pickpockets and bag snatchers at airports, railway stations, around the town centre and when using public transport; only carry what you need, leave spare cash and valuables in hotel safety deposits

  • be vigilant when drinking – pickpockets may operate in some bars

  • don’t leave drinks unattended – drink spiking is not uncommon

  • beware of strangers offering to buy drinks for you

  • Russia operates a zero tolerance policy on the possession and use of drugs, whether hard or soft; penalties are severe and can result in long jail sentences

At the games

For the spectator pass:

  • in order to attend games events and the Olympic park you’ll need to purchase a ticket, complete the registration process and pick up your spectator pass at one of the spectator registration centres

  • since May 21 2013 you’ve been able to obtain a spectator pass at the registration portal and also at registration centres; the first registration centre has opened in Sochi at 31 Kurortny Prospekt, from 10:00 to 19:00, Tuesday to Saturday

  • for further information you can call 8 800 550-00-14 (Free calls all over Russia, +7 (495) 663-39-02 (Calling from abroad)

What the British Embassy can and cannot do

British Embassy officials will be present in Sochi for the duration of both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. If you require assistance while in Sochi, please contact the British Embassy in Moscow (contact details below).

Advice on how we can help:

  • if you lose your money or are robbed, the Embassy can help you transfer funds from friends or family in the UK – but cannot provide you with money

  • if you lose your passport or have it stolen, the Embassy can issue you an emergency travel document (ETD) so that you can leave Russia

  • if you’re detained or arrested in Sochi, insist on contacting the British Embassy in Moscow on 8 495 956 7200 (from within Russia) or +7 495 956 7200 (if calling from a UK mobile) – this number is available 24 hours a day

  • Embassy staff can make sure you’re being treated fairly, but if you’ve broken the law they cannot arrange for you to be released from detention, nor can they pay fines

  • in the case of serious injury or illness, the Embassy can help you contact a member of your family and your travel insurance company

Britsh Embassy Moscow contact details

British Embassy in Moscow
Smolenskaya Naberezhnaya, 10
Moscow 121099

British Embassy Moscow

Embassy Switchboard: +7 495 956 7200

Emergency numbers

International emergency number (from your mobile): 112

Police: 02 (from Russian public phones only)

Ambulance: 03 (from Russian public phones only)

International SOS (Private, English-speaking ambulance): +7 495 937 5760