What to pack.
| The days of having to bring your
own bottled water and toilet paper have gone long time ago, although you may still find
them useful in regional cities. Now it is possible to easily find basic food, bottled
water and toiletry items in many places around Moscow. However, the following are items
some tourists prefer to bring for themselves.
|1. Bring your own
toiletries and pharmaceuticals. Although there are many stores carrying western medicines,
you may not be able to read the Russian or European labels.
2. Comfortable, waterproof and warm, (if winter) boots or shoes. It is frequently wet in
Moscow from snow or rain, and you will probably walk a lot.
4. Adapter for small appliances like hair dryers. Russia has the same 220 watt currency as
Europe and electrical sockets take round two prong plugs.
5. Travel alarm clock.
6. All phone numbers and addresses you will need.
7. Enough cash for your entire stay. Bring clean, crisp, new bills.
8. Travel money holder/conceiler. Pickpocketing is not uncommon, especially in the center
of town and incrowded markets.
9. Photocopy of passport and visa.
10. Warm hat, coat, clothes and gloves in winter.
11. Camera and film, of course.
12. Leave your expensive jewelry at home. You don't need to be conspicuous.
13. Locks for your luggage. Make sure to secure all your baggage with heavy locks.
|Currency: Rouble (Rub) = 100
kopeks. Notes are in denominations of Rub 500, 100, 50, 10. Coins are in denominations of
Rub 5, 2 and 1.
Currency exchange: The ruble is the only legal tender. It is
illegal to pay for goods and services in U.S. dollars. According to the Rusian law foreign
currency should only be exchanged at official bureaux. Bureaux de change are numerous and
easy to locate. Large shops offer their own exchange facilities. You may see many
individuals there who would offer you better exchange rate. Please, be careful and under
no circumstances exchange money from them. It is advisable not to change large amount of
money at a time unless you really need a lot of Roubles. Exchange rate is unpredictable
and may change very fast even during one day. All dollar bills must be recent and clean.
The Russians are all concerned about getting stuck with an outdated bill that will no
longer be honoured, even though this is also a violation of currency laws.
Contact us to get more info on today's best exchange rate quotes.
more about money...
| Major European and international
credit cards, including American Express, Visa and Diners Club, are accepted in the larger
hotels and at foreign currency shops and restaurants.
Some ATM'S in Moscow are now accepting EC cards together with your PIN number - if
you want to get roubles. Compared to most other possibilities of getting roubles, this is
a cheap (compared to credit cards) and time saving (compared to travellers cheques)
method. Depending on the Russian bank that maintains the cash machine, you may be charged
a 1% - 4% commission fee, on top of what your credit card charges.
| Are a big hassle in Russia. Very
few places take them and you pay a premium to cash them. If you're not willing to go all
cash, credit cards are much better. AMEX traveler's checks may be cashed at the American
Express office at Sadovaya Kudrinskaya 21a in the center of town. Expect to pay a 3%
commission for cashing the checks. Selected Russian banks will also cash them for a
|0900 am - 0500 pm Monday to Friday.
Some of bureaux de exchange are open 24 hours.
- New Year,
Jan 7 - Russian
Mar 8 - International womens
Apr 15 - Russian Orthodox Easter,
May 1-2 - Spring and Labour Day,
May 9 - Victory in Europe Day,
Jun 12 - Russian Independence Day,
Aug 22 - National Flag Day,
Nov 7 Constitution Day.
| Calling abroad from ALL Russian hotels is a rip-off. For example, to call USA would cost you
about US$ 5 per minute, Australia - US$ 8 per minute. To make sure you pay your phone bill most of the hotels require a deposit of a quite a
large amount of money or your credit card information. Without it you won't be able to dial an outside line. There is a solution, however. In our
office you can obtain pre-paid phone cards of a few Russian telephone companies (US$ 5, US$ 10, US$ 20, US$ 25 and US$ 50) and call from your hotel or
home for as low as 25 cents a minute to the USA and Europe. All you need is a touch-tone phone. Some of the hotels in Moscow and in St.-Petersburg
and almost all hotels in all other cities in Russia do not have touch-tone phones. But you still be able to use those cards if before you leave home you
buy a bipper (cost about US$ 5 in the USA). With the bipper all you have to do is to dial a number shown on the card and then use the bipper to enter your
access code and destination phone number. Please, contact us for more information.
To call USA from Moscow for as low as 13.5 cents a minute you can use Net Phone Card. Follow this link to check it out. Or just click on the Net Phone Card banner on our first (entrance) page to go there. You can also use it to call from anywhere to anywhere.
| The State Customs Committee has
stated that there are no restrictions on bringing laptop computers into the Russian
Federation for personal use. The software, however, can be inspected upon departure; and
some equipment and software have been confiscated because of the data contained in
them, or due to software encryption, which is standard in many programs.
HIV Testing Requirement
| Any person applying for a visa
for a stay of more than three months must present a certificate showing that the
individual is HIV negative. The certificate must contain the applicant's passport data,
proposed length of stay in Russia, blood test results for HIV infection, including date of
the test, signature of the doctor conducting the test, medical examination results,
diagnostic series, and seal of the hospital/medical organization. The certificate must be
in both Russian and English and valid for three months from the date of medical
examination and blood test. For information concerning entry, exit, and HIV requirements,
travelers can contact the Russian Embassy, Consular Division, 1825 Phelps Place, N.W.,
Washington, D.C., 20008; telephone (202) 939-8918, or the Russian consulates in New York,
San Francisco or Seattle.
| Medical care is usually far
below Western standards, with severe shortages of basic medical supplies. Access to the
few quality facilities that exist in major cities usually requires cash payment at Western
rates upon admission. The U.S. Embassy and consulates maintain lists of such facilities
and English-speaking doctors. Many resident Americans travel to the West for virtually all of their medical needs; such travel can be very expensive, if
undertaken under emergency conditions. Therefore, travelers may wish to check their
insurance coverage and consider supplemental coverage for medical evacuation. Elderly
travelers and those with existing health problems may be at particular risk. The cost of a
medical evacuation from the Russian Far East can be as high as $50,000. It is helpful to
carry a letter, in Russian, from your health care provider, describing the nature of any
personal medication that you carry into Russia. Further information on health matters can
be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers
hotline (404) 332-4559, or via the CDC home page on the Internet at http://www.cdc.gov/.
Bring with you all prescription drugs. Tap water is not to be drunk without first boiling.
A good mosquito repellant is recommended for summer.
Areas of instability
| Travel to Chechnya, North
Ossetia, Ingushetia, Dagestan, and the areas surrounding Chechnya is extremely dangerous
due to political instability and frequent kidnappings. Two U.S. citizens have disappeared
in Chechnya and remain unaccounted for. In addition, public gatherings and demonstrations occur frequently
in Russia, particularly in Moscow. Although such demonstrations are usually peaceful,
travelers are urged to exercise caution when in areas where large groups are
Passports and visas
| Carry them with you at all times. When you are out walking and you see some motley looking guys with black leather caps and jackets with dark gray uniforms, these are the police. They listen for English language being spoken and they will love it if they stop you and you are without your passport and visa. If you don't have your visa and passport, they will escort you to the nearest jail and try their best at expropriating whatever funds they think they can get out of you. Usually, the fine (bribe) is $50 and there won't be anything we can do for you to get you out of it. If the cops haul you in and you do have your visa and passport, call us immediately and we will rescue you. Your visas, if registered through us, will be in perfect order. Don't pay them anything if, once again, you have your visa and passport in your possession.
| Air travel within Russia is
often unreliable, with unpredictable schedules and difficult conditions, including
deterioration of the quality of service. Russian based airlines certified to operate
internationally meet higher standards than domestic-only air carriers and fly to most
Traffic safety and road condition
| Inclement weather and lack of
routine maintenance of roads and vehicles make road conditions throughout Russia highly
variable. Drivers and pedestrians should exercise extreme caution to avoid accidents,
are commonplace. Many accidents involve drunk drivers. Traffic police sometimes stop
motorists to extract cash "fines," and bandits occasionally prey on
| Crime against foreigners is a
problem, especially in major cities. Pickpocketings, assaults, and robberies can occur
frequently and at any time or place. The most vulnerable areas include underground
walkways and the subway, overnight trains, train stations, airports, markets, tourist
attractions, restaurants, hotel rooms, and residences, even when locked or occupied.
Groups of children are known to assault and rob foreigners on city streets or underground
walkways. Foreigners who have been drinking alcohol are especially vulnerable to assault
and robbery in or around nightclubs or bars, or on their way home. Robberies may occur in
taxis shared with strangers. Travelers have found it safer to travel in groups organized
by reputable tour agencies. The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported
immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. If you receive
a replacement for your lost or stolen U.S. passport in Russia, your exit visa must also be
replaced, with assistance from your sponsor, so that the passport number written on the
visa matches your new passport. This requires a Russian police report. The Department of
State's pamphlet "A Safe Trip Abroad" provides useful information on guarding
valuables and protecting personal security while traveling abroad. Additional information
on the region can be found in the brochure "Tips for Travelers to Russia and the
Newly Independent States." Both publications are available from the Superintendent of
Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington D.C. 20402.
Crime Against Foreign Businesses: Extortion and corruption are common in the
business environment. Organized criminal groups target foreign businesses in many cities
and have been known to demand protection money under threat of serious violence. Many
Western firms hire security services which have improved their overall security, although
this is no guarantee. Small businesses are particularly vulnerable. Over the past several
years, several American business people have been attacked, kidnapped, and even killed.
U.S. citizens are encouraged to report all extortion attempts to the Russian authorities
and to inform consular officials at the U.S. Embassy or nearest U.S. consulate.In general,
when staying in Moscow avoid walking through dark, unknown, deserted streets in the
evening; check your pockets and purses, while walking along the crowded streets, do the
same in big stores and market places. The crowded public places (i.e. close to railway
terminals, Arbat, etc.) are full of Gypsies (people, mainly women, wearing pictures skirts
and shawls), who may tell you your fortune by hand, playing cards, etc. Of course, not all
of them are thieves or pickpockets, try to get rid of them as soon as possible. When
visiting somebody don't get into lift cabin with persons you don't know. It is also
advisable to have a telephone number of your tourist agency or a close friend, whom you
may always call in case of need or emergency.
Embassy location & registration
| All American citizens who reside
in Russia for three months or longer are encouraged to register at the U.S. Embassy or at
one of the U.S. consulates. Americans who will remain for shorter periods may also
register and inquire about updated travel and security information. Registration allows
for quicker replacement of a lost or stolen passport, as well as contact in case of
The U.S. Embassy is located in Moscow at Novinskiy Bulvar 19/23; phone (7)(095)
252-2451; fax (7) (095) 956-4261. After hours emergencies: phone (7-095) 956-4422.
U.S. consulates are located in:
St. Petersburg: Ulitsa Furshtadskaya 15; phone (7-812) 275-1701; fax (7-812)
110-7022. After hours emergencies: phone (7-812) 274-8692.
Vladivostok: Ulitsa Pushkinskaya 32, phone (7-4232) 268-458 or 300-070; fax
(7-4232) 300-091. After hours emergencies: (7) (4232) 471-644 and (7) (4232)
Yekaterinburg: Ulitsa Gogolya 15a, 4th floor; phone (7-3432) 564-619; fax (7-3432)