Moscow Points of Interest Moscow Tour Suggestions Moscow Activities Moscow Events Moscow useful Facts Moscow News Hotels in Moscow Transportation in Moscow Brochures in Moscow Russia
Phone Calls
Money Matters
Personal Safety
Weather Forecast
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 passport.

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.

Upon Arrival

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).

Phone Calls
Calling Home

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 nights.

Local Calls

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.

Money Matters:

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.

Credit Cards

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.

Personal Safety:
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 simple rules:

  - Avoid walking through unknown and deserted streets after dark.
  - 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.

points of interest | tour suggestions | activities | events | useful facts | news | hotels | transportation | Russia