|What To Know:
Most visas can be obtained through your local travel agency. Upon arrival,
all foreign entry visas should be registered in OVIR (visa and registry
department) by the hotel administration. If staying in private apartments,
foreign guests should register themselves in local offices of the OVIR
department within three days of arrival.
Tourist visas are valid up to thirty days, and may be obtained at your
local travel agency by filling in an official application form.
Business visas last sixty days, and can also be obtained at a travel
agency if you present a written invitation from a Russian firm or partner,
three personal photographs, and a photocopy of the first six pages of your
Repeated entry visas (issued for a period of up to six months), which
may interest businessmen who come to Russian on a regular basis. These
visas are issued based on applications submitted by the Russian companies,
joint ventures, etc., to OVIR departments. Foreign companies stationed
in Russia should appeal to the Consular Department of the Russian Ministry
of Foreign Affairs. The application should include all explanations regarding
the requirement for the repeated entry visa.The travel agency will then
forward the info and the application to Russian Embassy.
Visitor visas require a personal invitation and an accommodation guarantee.
Before passing through customs you have to fill in the customs declaration
and indicate the available amount of foreign currency in cash and traveler's
checks. It is also advisable to mention the valuables your are carrying,
especially if you have any jewelry made in Russia or other CIS countries
and expensive electronics (including PC notebooks, video cameras, etc).
The customs declaration should be kept up to the end of your stay in Russia,
as it may be required for departure formalities.
No customs duty is required for your personal belongings for a price
of $2,000 U.S., (the goods priced at up to $200 are duty free, if sent
by international mail). However, the amount of some items brought into
Russia is limited by the local customs regulations. These are, for example,
alcoholic beverages, etc. The customs requirements are subject to frequent
changes, but any Russian Consulate, when issuing your entry visa, should
always provide you with the information about the latest charges, if any.
A foreigner may also bring one car, duty-free, for the period of their
stay. The car cannot be sold or transferred to any other person.
It is prohibited to import into Russia narcotics, toxic and radioactive
items, explosives, explosive devices, or weaponry.
Before passing through customs you must fill in a customs declaration.
No duty is necessary if the total cost of items taken out from Russia is
less than $750 U.S. Items under $75 may be sent duty-free via international
mail (over $75 worth costs 60 percent of the customs value of the item).
When calling home, it is significantly cheaper to use a public phone
rather than a hotel phone. There are public, card-operated phones of the
entrance halls of Moscow's Metro stations. The cards are available in cashier
windows at the same Metro stations. The approximate price is $15 U.S. The
credit left on the cards is shown on the phone's digital display. You may
also call from post offices, where an operator will connect you to the
required number. Phone cards are also available at post offices. It is
always cheaper to call on weekends, international holidays, and weekday
Making calls in Moscow is free from your hotel phone. Tokens for the
public telephones are available at the Metro entrances, but it is much
more convenient to use plastic phone cards (with one card you can phone
50 times, provide the duration of each call is three minutes or less).
The card operated phones are available at the Metros. Using the card, you
may also call other cities and towns in Russian and the CIS. When doing
so, dial an 8 first, followed by the city code and the local number.
All payments in
Russia are made in rubbles. However, in many shop prices are often indicated
in German marks are U.S. dollars. The rate of the rubble changes all the
time (decreases, mainly), which is why standard units are used. On October
1, 1997, one U.S. dollar equaled 5,864 rubbles. In shops, the exchange
rate may be higher than the official listing.
You can exchange your money for rubbles at commercial banks, exchange
offices, and hotels. Look for a board with the sign (tk Cyrillic). It the
currency exchange office is a small one, it will only accept dollars or
marks. You can also reconvert rubbles at the offices. You may also be approached
by "fartsovchiki" (gamblers), who may offer their services for
currency exchange. We advise that you stay away from these people, however,
as they may try to cheat you.
Some hotels and restaurants will let you pay in foreign currency, but
it must always be either dollars or marks.
Most hotels, shops, and restaurants, especially those near the city
center, accept all major credit cards. Sometimes you may be asked to show
your passport or identifying documents. Traveler's checks haven't yet become
popular in Moscow, but you may always exchange them for cash in exchange
offices, hotels, and banks.
|The local mass media says a lot about the criminal
situation in Russia, but most cases of murder and many other crimes are
directly related to the local Mafia and financial intrigues. If you have
no intention of conducting illegal activity in Moscow, you'll be safe and
protected. The best advice is to simply stay away from people who you don't
trust or like. Never give your advice or telephone number to people you
don't know. Like you would in any other city, it is best to follow these
- Avoid walking through unknown and deserted streets after
- When walking through crowded streets, big stores, or marketplaces,
check your pockets regularly.
If pickpockets see that you are on your guard, they'll
be less likely to single you out.
- Never carry a lot of money with you. Most stores and restaurants
downtown accept credit cards.
- The crowded public places (like railway stations and the
Arbat, e.g.) are full of Gypsies, who may offer to tell your fortune. Most
are legitimate, but some can be thieves. Be on your guard.