Living in Russia
Information for British nationals living in Russia, including advice on health, education, benefits, residence requirements and more.
This guide sets out essential information for British nationals residing in Russia, including advice on health, education, benefits, residence requirements and more. We are unable to provide any guidance on general lifestyle enquiries apart from the information and links listed below. See our information on what consulates can and cannot do for British nationals.
Entry and registration requirements
Russia is a country with a strict visa regime. When applying for a Russian visa you should make sure that visa type is consistent with the purpose of your visit. It is visa holders’ responsibility to check that information in the issued visa is correct. The visa terms must be complied with.
Foreign citizens must register their stay with the local branch of the Federal Migration Service via their visa sponsor. Violation of rules of migration registration may entail administrative responsibility of a foreign citizen in the form a penalty from 2,000 to 5,000 roubles, in certain cases accompanied with expulsion from the territory of the Russian Federation. A foreign citizen who has been administratively expelled may be further banned from entry to the Russian Federation for the period of up to five years.
Photocopies of the passport, migration card and detachable part of the Notification, in case of their loss or any other unforeseen circumstances, would help to confirm that the foreign citizen indeed has the documents and observes the rules of migration registration. Please see our Travel Advice for more information.
In case of damage or loss of the migration card, you can obtain a duplicate of the damaged or lost migration card at the nearest territorial office of the Federal Migration Service. At the same time documents allowing entry to the Russian Federation must be submitted. Migration card duplicate is issued free of charge.
Federal Migration Service (FMS) of Russian Federation in Moscow
42 Pokrovka St.
- Monday 9am to 6pm
- Tuesday 9am to 6pm
- Thursday 9am to 6pm
- Friday 9am to 4pm
- Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday - closed
- Lunch 12:45pm to 2pm
Once you enter the building you should go to the left and approach window 2. There are no English speakers at FMS as the policy of Migration Service is to deal with Russian visa sponsors, not foreign citizens directly, although a foreign citizen can contact them directly as well.
To replace a lost/ damaged migration cart at St Petersburg please visit:
Krasnogo Tekstilshchika Street 15
- Monday and Friday 10am to midday
- Wednesday 2pm to 4pm.
Registering with us
If you live in Russia, you do not need to register with the British embassy or consulates-general. The embassy no longer keeps a register of long term British residents in Russia. We encourage British nationals in Russia to sign up for Travel Advice e-mail alerts and to follow the UK in Russia on social media including Facebook and Twitter. Here you will find information and news for British nationals in Russia.
If you have a child in Russia and your child has an automatic claim to British citizenship, you can register the birth of your child with us, but it is not a legal requirement.
If a British national dies in Russia, you can register the death with us, but it is not a legal requirement.
Criminal Record Checks
Russia’s visa regulations state that proof of no criminal record is required for foreign nationals applying for a resident or, in some cases, work permit. Russian authorities often refer to it as “certificates of good conduct” or “police clearance certificates”. The UK police do not issue these certificates, however foreign ministries and embassies will generally accept a police reply under the subject access provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 as a suitable equivalent. To obtain a criminal record check, covering time spent in the UK you can:
contact the UK police authorities nearest to where you lived at the time seek records via the Association of Chief Police Officers Criminal Records Office. General enquiries about the ACPO Criminal Records Office should be made Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 430pm United Kingdom time. Call: 01489 569 800. International callers should dial +44 1962 871 111, or alternatively email email@example.com
if you work or are seeking to work with children, you can also apply via ACRO for an International Child Protection Certificate. The ICPC is a police check available to overseas schools and organisations with no formal link to the UK, who are recruiting British nationals (or any national who has spent time living in the UK) to work with children. Note that you, not your employer, must apply for an ICPC. Employers can ask you to provide an ICPC or can contact the Disclosure and Barring Service
check the information from the Disclosure and Barring Service (formerly the Criminal Records Bureau) to see if a DBS check is suitable for you or your employer’s requirements. The Russian authorities require for this document to be “legalised/apostilled”. The process of legalisation involves submitting a UK public document to the Legalisation Office
The British embassy, or consulate generals, in Russia have no authority to conduct criminal record checks and are unable to provide British nationals with proof of no criminal record. If you wish to obtain a criminal record clearance from the Russian authorities, you will need to contact:
- Main Analytical Centre of the Russian Ministry of Interior at the following address:
67 Novocheryomushkinskaya Street
Telephones: +7 495 332 3058, +7 495 332 3245, +7 495 332 3177 Applications accepted Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 9am to midday, Thursday 1pm to 5pm, Friday 1pm to 3pm
- Information Centre for Petersburg and Leningrad Region
6 Liteyny Prospect
Tel: +7 812 573 3572 Monday to Friday 10am to 1pm, 3pm to 5pm
- if you are in the UK you can contact Russian Embassy in the UK to obtain a certificate of no criminal record.
You can also ask for a copy of your police records from the UK
If you become sick or are injured abroad you should seek medical attention locally if you feel you need it. Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel. It should cover most medical expenses.
If you have travelled with a tour guide or have a tour representative you should contact them in the first instance if your condition is not serious.
Please be aware that medical facilities abroad may differ from those in the UK. State medical facilities in the Russian Federation are generally poor. Private clinics and hospitals offer a better standard of care, though these do not always meet western standards and practices. If you are involved in an accident or taken ill, it is likely that you would be taken to a state hospital unless you can show that you have comprehensive medical insurance cover.
A reciprocal health care agreement operates between the UK and the Russian Federation. This entitles British nationals to free treatment in a Russian hospital. However, any treatment you receive is likely to be limited, would only cover emergency treatment and will not exceed the amount of free medical help local national get in similar circumstances.
The embassy/consulate can assist you in contacting family or friends who may be able to help and support you. We cannot pay for your treatment or intervene in your treatment.
Social ethics and traditions
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT)
In Russia homosexuality is legal. Same-sex marriage, same-sex couples as de facto couples or civil partnerships are not recognised.
In June 2013 a nationwide law signed banning distribution of “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” among minors (under 18). The law subjects Russian citizens found guilty to fines of up to 5,000 rubles and public officials to fines of up to 50,000 rubles. Organizations or businesses will be fined up to 1 million rubles and be forced to cease operations for up to 90 days. Foreigners may be arrested and detained for up to 15 days then deported, as well as fined up to 100,000 rubles. Russian citizens who have used the internet or media to promote “non-traditional relations” will be fined up to 100,000 rubles. Some regions have their own legislation banning “propaganda of homosexuality, bisexuality and/or transgenderism”.
In June 2012, the Moscow City Court upheld a new law banning gay pride parades in the city for the next hundred years.
For more information please see our Travel Advice.
Driving licences and vehicles
See our Travel Advice for general information on driving in Russia. If you intend to stay in Russia for longer than one year, you should apply for a Russian driving licence from the Russian State Automobile Inspection website (site is only in Russian).
Property and property disputes
If you are considering buying a property in Russia you will need to bear in mind that the legal system and steps to follow are different from those you have experienced in the UK. You are strongly recommended to obtain the services of an independent lawyer before committing yourself to purchasing property or paying a deposit or the property’s full costs. We define “independent lawyer” as one who has no connection with either the seller or an agent of the seller: an agent can be an estate agent or anyone acting on behalf of the seller.
You can find practical advice which to consider when purchasing a property overseas in our guidance for buying property abroad.
The British Government cannot become involved in private legal disputes, provide legal advice or assistance or investigate crimes. If you experience problems involving the purchase of property in Russia you are recommended to engage a lawyer to act on your behalf and to seek legal redress through the courts or, if necessary, to lodge a complaint with the police of public prosecutor.
If you live in Russia and are considering returning to live in the UK (for example on retirement), you should consider how you will support yourself and how non-British members of your family may be able to accompany you. There is information available to help you make informed choices about living abroad.
If you have not made full National Insurance (NI) contributions, remember you may not be eligible for state benefits or support. HM Revenue & Customs provide some useful information on returning to live in the UK for non-residents, including how to make NI contributions from abroad.
Your entitlement to free NHS treatment depends on length and purpose of your residence in the UK, not your nationality. You must be able to show UK residency to be eligible for free treatment, even if you are a British citizen. The Citizen’s Advice Bureau or National Health Service can provide further information.
If you wish to return to live in the UK with family members who do not hold British citizenship, they will need to meet the UK’s immigration requirements for settlement in the UK. See the UK Visa and Immigration page for more details.
For advice on claiming your state pension from abroad, please contact the Department for Work and Pensions international pension centre.
This information is provided as a general guide and is based upon information provided to the embassy by the relevant local authorities and may be subject to change at any time with little or no notice. The FCO and the British embassy will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information. British nationals wishing to obtain any further information must contact the relevant local authority.
Published: 7 March 2014
Related guides: Notarial and documentary services guide for Russia