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Russian authorities strictly enforce all visa and immigration laws. The Embassy of the Russian Federation website provides the most up to date information regarding visa regulations and requirements. In accordance with Russia’s Entry-Exit Law, Russian authorities may deny entry or reentry into Russia for 5 years or more and cancel the visas of foreigners who have committed two administrative violations within the past three years. Activities that are not specifically covered by the traveler’s visa may result in an administrative violation and deportation.
Under a bilateral agreement signed in 2012, qualified U.S. applicants for humanitarian, private, tourist, and business visas may request and receive multiple-entry visas with a validity of three years or a single entry, three-month validity visa. (Please note that other types of visas are not part of the agreement and those visa holders should pay close attention to the terms of their visas.) You cannot enter Russia prior to the date on your visa, and you must exit Russia before your visa expires. The maximum period of stay is shown on the visa.
You must have a current U.S. passport with the appropriate visa. Russian visas in an expired or canceled passport are not valid.
You must obtain a valid visa for your specific purpose of travel before arriving in Russia, unless you are arriving as a cruise ship passenger (see below information for passengers of cruise ships and ferries). Do not attempt to enter Russia before the date shown on your visa. If you are staying in Russia for more than 7 days, you must register your visa and migration card with the General Administration for Migration Issues of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Passengers of Cruise Ships and Ferries at St. Petersburg and Vladivostok are permitted to stay in Russia for 72 hours without a visa when accompanied by a tour operator licensed by Russian authorities. Ferry schedules may not permit visitors to stay more than two nights without exceeding the 72-hour limit. If you plan to sightsee on your own, you must have a tourist visa. A visa is also required if you plan to depart Russia by another mode of transportation.
Cruise ship passengers in St. Petersburg should seek assistance from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow for all emergency and passport services.
Cruise ship passengers should be aware that loss or theft of a passport and/or migration card could result in the inability to obtain lodging. Hotels and hostels may not allow guests to check in without a passport, a migration card, or Russian visa.
We recommend U.S. citizens obtain a Russian visa before traveling to Russia, in case of an emergency while in the country, such as unexpected medical issues or if you are not able to return on the cruise ship for any reason.
Students and English teachers should be certain that their activities are in strict keeping with their visa type. Students must not teach or coach English, whether compensated or not, while traveling on a student visa as it is considered a visa violation and may subject you to detention and deportation.
Transit visas: We recommend that all passengers transiting through Russia obtain a Russian transit visa.
Dual Nationals: Anyone entering Russia who has claim to Russian citizenship, regardless of any other citizenship held, is fully accountable to the Russian authorities for all obligations of a Russian citizen, including the required military service.
U.S.-Russian dual nationals and Russian citizens who are Legal Permanent residents of the United States must register their dual nationality/foreign residency. Registration forms and further information (in Russian only) can be found on the website of the General Administration for Migration Issues of the Interior Ministry of Russia.
U.S.-Russian dual nationals must both enter and exit on a Russian passport. You will not be permitted to depart on an expired passport. Applying for a passport can take several months.
U.S.-Russian dual nationals who return to Russia on a “Repatriation Certificate” are only permitted to enter Russia and will not be permitted to depart Russia until they obtain a valid Russian passport.
Minors who also have Russian citizenship and are traveling alone or in the company of adults who are not their parents, must carry a Russian passport as well as their parents’ notarized consent for the trip, which can be obtained at a Russian embassy or consulate, or a U.S. notary public. A consent obtained in the United States from a U.S. notary public must be apostilled, translated into Russian, and properly affixed. Authorities will prevent such minors from entering or leaving Russia if they cannot present this consent.
Crimea: Follow the guidance in the Travel Advisory for Ukraine and do not travel to the Crimean Peninsula.
Documentary Requirements for obtaining a Russian visa: Consult with the Embassy of the Russian Federation for detailed explanations of documentary requirements.
HIV/AIDS Entry Restrictions: Some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions exist for visitors to and foreign residents of Russia. Applicants for longer-term tourist and work visas or residence permits are required to undergo an HIV/AIDS test.