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Russia travel guide

About Russia

Russia is at once breathtaking and baffling. Winston Churchill’s much-quoted line that the world’s largest nation represented “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma” is as true today as it was back then.

Monumental in every respect, it’s a land where burnished imperial splendour coexists with icy Siberian tundra, where timeworn Soviet-era monuments backdrop uber-hip urban cultures and where everything from the ruling party downwards functions in its own, impenetrably Russian, way.

The west of the country draws the most visitor attention, thanks to the presence of two extraordinary cities. St Petersburg and Moscow serve up sweeping postcard sights by the dozen. Moscow is the rapidly beating heart of the “New Russia,” where Asia and Europe combine to create a boisterous, enigmatic metropolis on a grand scale. St Petersburg, meanwhile, with its living film-set of palaces, cathedrals and waterways, is the grandest and most European of Russia’s cities, yet still retains a deeply complex character.

Exploration beyond these two main hubs, however, is well advised. The Golden Ring, a collection of ancient towns northeast of Moscow, still has plenty of period architecture and is easily accessed from the capital. By cruising along the mighty River Volga, meanwhile, it’s possible to travel south towards the Caspian Sea and see the country beyond its increasingly westernised veneer. And those heading east, into Siberia, will find a land of varied, often sublime natural beauty. From Lake Baikal to the old imperial city of rkutsk, and from the mountains of the Altai and the shamans of Tuva, Siberia has many secrets.

A combination of the above is drawing an increasing number of tourists to the Russian Federation – that it remains as obscure and mysterious as ever is all part of the charm. As the poet Fyodor Tyutchev once said: “Russia cannot be understood.”

Key facts


17,100,000 sq km (6,602,347 sq miles).


144,300,000 (2016).

Population density:

8.4 per sq km.




Federal republic.

Head of state:

President Vladimir Putin since 2012.

Head of government:

Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin since 2020.

Travel Advice

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.

FCDO advises against all travel to Russia

Your travel insurance could be invalidated if you travel against FCDO advice. Consular support is also severely limited where FCDO advises against travel.

FCDO advises British nationals against all travel to Russia due to the risks and threats from its continuing invasion of Ukraine. The situation in Russia is unpredictable. This includes:

  • security incidents, such as drone attacks, happening in some parts of the country
  • lack of available flights to return to the UK
  • limited ability for the UK government to provide consular assistance

There is also a high likelihood that terrorists will try to carry out attacks, including in major cities. See ‘Safety and Security’ section.

Security situation in Russia

The Russian invasion of Ukraine continues. There are reports of drone attacks and explosions in areas in western and southern Russia, particularly near the Russian border with Ukraine, Moscow and St Petersburg.

Political rallies and demonstrations can take place in Moscow, St Petersburg and across Russia. Check the local media for the latest information. Be vigilant and avoid any political demonstrations or gatherings.

The situation remains unpredictable and could escalate without warning.

Leaving Russia

FCDO advises British nationals to consider leaving Russia.

If you do not need to be in Russia, we strongly advise you to consider leaving.

You cannot fly directly from Russia to the UK or through EU countries. Commercial flight options are limited and can sell out quickly. Check with your airline or travel provider.

British nationals should exercise extreme caution at all times. Travel within or out of Russia is at your own risk.

By air

You cannot fly direct from Russia to the UK or through EU countries. There are limited commercial airlines with indirect flights via the Middle East, Serbia and Turkey. Check the latest information with your airline or travel provider.

By road

Land borders may be busy. Be prepared for a long wait to exit Russia. You may also be questioned at the border. During periods of unrest, check the local media for updates on the situation before travelling.

Road border crossings between Finland and Russia will be closed until at least 11 February 2024. Consult the Finnish border guard website for up-to-date information. Further changes may be announced at short notice.

Some European countries have restricted or banned the entry of vehicles registered in Russia, this includes:

If you plan to drive a vehicle registered in Russia into Europe check that you are eligible to do so.

By bus

Some bus companies have international routes. The situation may change quickly. From 18 November 2023, Finland will restrict entry at some road border crossings (See ‘Travelling from Russia to Finland’). Check these companies for availability of buses, timetables and tickets:

  • Ecolines – buses to Riga (Latvia), Tallinn (Estonia), Vilnius (Lithuania) and other destinations in Europe
  • Baltic Shuttle – buses from St Petersburg to Tallinn (Estonia)
  • Lux Express – buses from St Petersburg to Riga (Latvia), Tallinn (Estonia)

Travelling from Russia to Latvia

Check the travel advice for Latvia.

See the Latvian government website for information on crossing the border.

Travelling from Russia to Finland

Check the travel advice for Finland.

Road border crossings between Finland and Russia will remain closed until further notice. Consult the Finnish border guard website for up-to-date information. Further changes may be announced at short notice.

The border crossing points for maritime traffic at Haapasaari, the port of Nuijamaa and Santio will be closed to leisure boating from 15 April until further notice.

The train service from Russia to Finland is no longer available.

Travelling from Russia to Estonia

Check the travel advice for Estonia.

See the Estonian police and border guard website for information on crossing the border.

From 1 February 2024, it is not possible to cross the border by vehicle via the Narva-Ivangorod crossing point, whilst construction works take place on the Russian side. The crossing is open to pedestrians.

Travelling from Russia to Lithuania

Check the travel advice for Lithuania.

If you’re planning to cross into Lithuania by road from Kaliningrad oblast at the Kybartai border crossing point, see the Lithuanian state border crossing website.

Travelling from Russia to Norway

Check the travel advice for Norway.

Staying in Russia

If you decide to stay in Russia, you should:

  • keep your departure plans under constant review
  • ensure your travel documents are up to date
  • follow local media
  • stay alert to security warnings and follow the advice of local authorities
  • take cover in buildings or underground and avoid windows in the event of drone attack
  • sign up to email alerts for Russia travel advice

Read FCDO advice on what to do if you’re affected by a crisis abroad and how to prepare.

Support for British nationals in Russia

The British Embassy in Moscow and British Consulate Ekaterinburg are open, but the situation could change at short notice.

In person consular support in Russia is limited. It is very limited in parts of Russia because of the security situation and the size of the country, particularly in the North Caucasus.

If you need consular assistance, call our 24-hour helpline +7 495 956 7200 and select the option for consular services for British nationals.

Contact the Russian emergency services on 112.

Dual nationals

Dual British-Russian nationals are treated as Russian nationals by local authorities. The consular support FCDO can provide is severely limited. If you are arrested or detained, Russian authorities are unlikely to allow us consular access.

In 2022, Russia declared a partial mobilisation of Russian citizens to join the military forces. Military recruitment continues. Anyone with a Russian passport could be conscripted.

In August, Russian law was amended to stop Russian nationals eligible for military conscription from leaving Russia from the day their draft notice appears on the federal electronic conscription register.

Before you travel

No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide as well as support for British nationals abroad which includes:

  • advice on preparing for travel abroad and reducing risks
  • information for women, LGBT+ and disabled travellers

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this advice is updated.

Travel insurance

If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.

This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Russia set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact Russia’s embassy or consulate in the UK.

COVID-19 rules

There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Russia.

Testing at airports

For passengers leaving Russia who require a test for their next destination, express COVID-19 tests can be carried out at some airports. In Moscow, express COVID-19 tests are available in Sheremetyevo, Domodedovo and Vnukovo airports. They may need to be booked in advance and pre-paid. In St Petersburg, express COVID-19 tests can be carried out at Pulkovo airport.

Passport validity requirements

Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months after your visa expires.

You cannot enter Russia using a visa in an expired passport, even if you’re also carrying a new, valid passport. You will need to apply for a new visa or visa transfer.

Sign your passport before you travel if it was issued after January 2017. Some British nationals have been denied entry for not signing their passports.

Dual nationals and passports

If you have dual British-Russian nationality and travel to Russia to renew your Russian passport, it may take up to 4 months to get your new passport. You will not be able to leave Russia on your British passport if you entered Russia on your Russian passport. You will have to stay in Russia until your new Russian passport is issued.

Children born overseas, outside of Russia, and added to their parents’ Russian passports may need their own passport to leave Russia. Check with the Russian Embassy in the UK before you travel.

Visa requirements

You must get a visa before you travel. See the Russia Visa Centre for further information on how to apply for a visa, including processing time and fast track services.

If you live in the UK and are aged 12 years or over, you must go to a visa application centre in London, Manchester or Edinburgh to submit biometric data (fingerprints).

If you’re a British national with a Russian national in your immediate family, you can apply for a multi-entry private visa for up to one year. Check what you need for your stay with the Russian Embassy in the UK.

The Russian authorities strictly enforce visa and immigration laws. Before you travel, check:

  • your visa details are correct
  • the terms and conditions of your visa

Overstaying your visa

If you overstay your visa, you may face fines, court hearings, deportation or a ban from re-entry.

Immigration cards

You must sign an immigration card at passport control every time you enter Russia.

Immigration officials keep one half. They return the other half to you. You must keep it and show it at passport control when you leave Russia or your departure could be delayed.

You will need to show your immigration card when exchanging money or when checking into you accommodation.

Questioning on arrival in Russia

There have been intensive security checks on foreign nationals at the Russian border. Some British and dual Russian/British nationals have been stopped and questioned, often about political views and contacts with Ukraine or Ukrainians. Fingerprints and DNA swabs have also been taken. Security staff sometimes ask for access to data on phones and other electronic devices.

Some visitors have been held for several hours for identity checks, but are then usually allowed to continue their journeys. Some British Nationals have also been refused entry to Russia. You should:

  • tell family, friends or colleagues about your travel plans and explain that the arrival process might take longer than usual
  • stay calm and avoid confrontation if you are stopped

Registering accommodation

You must register with the local authorities if you’re staying anywhere for more than 7 working days. Your hotel will do this automatically. If you’re staying with someone, check that they’re doing this. You must show evidence of your registration at passport control when you leave Russia. Police also carry out routine checks. If you cannot show your registration and passport, you may be fined.

Travelling between Russia and Belarus

By air

You will need to go through immigration control if you fly to Russia from Belarus or from Belarus to Russia. Contact the nearest Russian embassy or consulate to check if you need a transit visa.

By road

There are no immigration checks on the land border between Russia and Belarus. This means you will not be able to have your passport stamped and will therefore be entering the country illegally. If you’re planning to drive to Russia, you will need to drive through a different country.

By rail

Contact your train or tour operator before booking your travel to make sure you enter Russia through an immigration checkpoint. Contact your nearest Russian embassy or consulate for advice on rail travel.

Vaccination requirements (other than COVID-19)

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the vaccinations and certificates you need in TravelHealthPro’s Russia guide.

Customs rules

There are strict rules about goods that can be brought into and taken out of Russia. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty.

Money or goods

You can import and export foreign currency up to 10,000 US dollars (or equivalent) without declaring it.

You cannot export foreign currency over 10,000 US dollars (or equivalent), even if you declare it.

You must complete a customs declaration form if you import over 10,000 US dollars (or equivalent) or certain types of goods, including:

  • electrical items
  • jewellery
  • antiques
  • valuable musical instruments

Electronic items

You must get a licence before you travel if you want to import certain electronic items, such as GPS instruments. Check with the Russian Embassy in the UK before your travel.

Antiques and art

There are strict regulations on the export and import of antiques, artworks and historical items. You must get an export permit from the Ministry of Culture and declare each item when you leave. It is illegal to import or export items without a permit.

Customs declaration forms

Make sure your customs declaration form is stamped by a customs official when you enter. If not, your money or items may be confiscated when you leave or you could be fined.

Keep receipts of any purchases in case you need to show them when you leave Russia.

Accessing money in Russia

The Russian economy is unstable. This could make access to goods and services difficult.

Mastercard and Visa are not operating in Russia. Mastercard and Visa cards issued outside Russia will not work at Russian shops or ATMs. Cards issued inside Russia will work in, but not outside, Russia. You may not be able to access your money through Russian banks or make payments to Russian businesses with non-Russian credit or debit cards.

For all other credit or debit cards, let your provider know you’re travelling to Russia to avoid your card being blocked for anti-fraud reasons.

Make sure that you have enough money to cover your stay.

Buying Russian roubles

It is illegal to pay directly for general transactions in Russia using foreign currency. It is difficult to get Russian roubles in high street banks in the UK. If you want to buy roubles in Russia, you must take US dollars or euros to exchange.

Only change money at banks, hotels and exchange bureaus. It is illegal to change money from street traders.

The British government has sanctioned several major Russian banks. This means British nationals are banned from making funds available to these banks. See more information about Russian sanctions and what this means for British nationals.

You should also read FCDO’s overall travel advice.


There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. You should remain vigilant.

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.

Terrorism in Russia

Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Russia.

Attacks could be indiscriminate and target:

  • large gatherings, such as concerts
  • popular tourist sites
  • seasonal, festive, or religious activities in public places
  • areas that are not controlled by security, such as open-air events and markets
  • transportation networks

Terrorist attacks have taken place in Moscow and St Petersburg and other Russian cities in recent years, resulting in large numbers of casualties. Russia’s aviation has also been targeted. 

In early March, the United States Embassy in Moscow issued a travel advisory warning of imminent extremist plans to target large gatherings in Moscow.

On 22 March, a terrorist attack took place at the Crocus City Concert Hall in Krasnogorsk near Moscow. Additional counter-terrorism procedures and restrictions may still be in place across the country. Follow the instructions of local authorities.

Terrorism in North Caucasus

Since 2015, Daesh has been active in North Caucasus. They have carried out a number of small-scale attacks (mainly in Dagestan), targeting security personnel. Levels of violence, and the risk of terrorism, could rise quickly.

Security services carry out regular counter-terrorism operations in the North Caucasus and across Russia. These can be at happen at short notice and may lead to travel restrictions.

Political situation

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues. The situation is unpredictable and could escalate without warning. Stay alert and follow the advice of local authorities.

Russia has heightened security measures in place. Security measures are set by local authorities and will differ between regions. Security measures could be introduced at short notice. This could include curfews, restrictions on movements and public gatherings and seizure of private property.

Risks around arrest and detention

If the authorities suspect you of engaging and supporting activities contrary to Russian law, even if activities took place outside Russia, you may be subject to:

  • deportation
  • detention
  • investigation
  • prosecution

Activities could include:

  • displaying LGBT+ symbols like the rainbow flag
  • expressing support for Ukraine on social media
  • assisting Russian nationals to evade conscription

Mobile phones and other personal items may be seized and inspected.

Dual British-Russian nationals are treated as Russian nationals by local authorities; in the event of arrest or detention, Russian authorities are unlikely to allow FCDO consular access.

Restrictions on publishing and distributing information

Journalists have been arrested for gathering and publishing information.

There are severe restrictions on publishing and distributing information related to the Russian armed forces and any military operations. People charged under these laws face heavy sentences.

If you publish or distribute information considered ‘fake’ or from non-official Russian government sources, including posting of sharing content on social media, you could be fined or face a prison sentences of up to 15 years.

International sanctions against Russia

In response to Russia’s invasion, the UK and other governments have placed sanctions on Russia, including on its airlines. This can affect the situation in Russia and anyone travelling there. See more information about Russian sanctions and what this means for British nationals.

International businesses and services have restrictions in place, including Mastercard and Visa, which means you may not be able to access money or other services. Read FCDO’s overall travel advice and entry requirements.

Protests and demonstrations

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, there have been anti-war protests across Russia. Demonstrators have been detained.

Authorised rallies and demonstrations are allowed in cities and towns in Russia. Under Russian law, a single person can constitute a protest and could be subject to repercussions by Russian authorities. Unauthorised demonstrations can become violent, with a strong response from security forces.

Check local media for the latest information, be vigilant, and avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings that may be considered political. Do not take photographs of or film political activities.


Protecting your belongings

Be alert to the possibility of mugging, pickpocketing and theft in the main tourist areas, around the main railway stations, vehicles and hotel rooms. You should not:

  • leave your bags unattended
  • openly carry expensive items or anything that might identify you as a tourist
  • walk about late at night alone
  • look after possessions of people you do not know
  • agree to go to a bar or a club with someone you have just met

Be wary of groups of people begging.

Look after your passport, especially in major transport hubs and busy areas. British nationals have had passports stolen or lost in Moscow airports. Take care when passing through airports, particularly in the baggage collection area and outside the arrivals hall.

Drink spiking

Drink spiking, leading to robbery, violence or abuse, can happen. Victims are often left unconscious outside. This can be life-threatening in winter. Buy your own drinks and always keep them in sight.

Violent crime

Foreign visitors are not usually the targets of violent crime. However, in St Petersburg gangs have targeted tourists for street crime.

Dating services scams

Dating services scams have affected British nationals. Never send money or buy items for anyone you have not met in person.

Money transfer scams

Be wary of sending money through untraceable transfer services. British nationals have lost money when sending it to unknown recipients without checking they’re genuine.

Fake police checks

The police do not need a reason to stop, question or detain individuals. Fake police officers have harassed and robbed tourists. If you’re stopped, always insist on seeing identification. Report any harassment or crime to the nearest police office.

Laws and cultural differences

Passport checks

Always carry your passport with you as ID. Police carry out random checks, especially during periods of high security. You could be fined or detained for up to 48 hours if you cannot show your passport when asked. Copies are not accepted.


Do not use or carry drugs. You can be prosecuted for possessing even small quantities of any drugs.

Restricted military areas

Access to certain areas, such as military and border zones, is restricted. You must get permission from local authorities before entering. You can find a list of restricted areas online (in Russian and the site may not be accessible from outside of Russia).

If you do not have permission, you may be arrested, fined or deported. Check with your tour operator or the Russian Embassy in the UK if you’re unsure whether a tour or excursion will take you into a restricted area.

Photographing military sites

Photography is not permitted at any military, secure or official sites (including airports). There may not be warning signs in locations where photography is banned. You could be detained or arrested if you break the law.

Using drones

Due to current military activities, some regions have prohibited the use of all drones. Check restrictions with the local authorities.

You must get permission from the Russian aviation authority (in Russian) before using any unmanned aircraft systems (drones) in Russian airspace. You must tell them the flight route at least 24 hours in advance and keep in regular contact with them before and during the flight. You will be fined if you do not comply.

Cybersecurity laws

There are increasing restrictions to limit accessibility and content posted on the internet, including social media platforms. Meta (Facebook and Instagram), Twitter and LinkedIn are blocked in Russia. Access to other websites can be unreliable.

More information is available from the Federal Service for Surveillance of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (in Russian).

Racial discrimination

Most visitors experience no problems but racial discrimination can happen in some areas. If you’re of African, Asian or Caribbean descent, you may receive unwanted attention in public places. Take care, particularly when travelling late at night.

LGBT+ travellers

Homosexuality is not illegal in Russia but there are considerable legislative restrictions which target the LGBT+ community. In January 2024 a Russian Supreme Court judgement came into force banning the so-called ‘international LGBT movement’ and designating it as ‘extremist’. ‘LGBT propaganda’ legislation bans people from promoting ‘non-traditional sexual relations’. If charged, foreign citizens could face: 

  • fines 
  • up to 15 days in jail 
  • deportation

Attitudes towards the LGBT+ community and LGBT+ issues are less tolerant than in the UK and vary in different locations. Government officials have made derogatory comments to LGBT+ individuals. Public displays of affection may receive negative attention.

There are no laws to protect LGBT+ people from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Recent laws targeting LGBT+ communities include:  

  • in 2012, Moscow Pride was banned for 100 years  
  • in 2022, a ban on the ‘demonstration of LGBT information, promotion of non-traditional sexual relations and change of gender’ to children and adults through the internet, films, advertisement, audio visual services and books (the “gay propaganda” law)

In November 2023, the Russian Supreme Court banned the so-called ‘international LGBT movement’, designating it as ‘extremist’. The court provided no definition of ‘international LGBT movement’.

Displaying ‘extremist’ symbols and being a member of and donating money to ‘extremist’ organisations are criminal offences. This decision came in to force in January 2024. It is unclear how the authorities will implement the ruling but there have been reports of persecution for displaying the rainbow flag, considered by the authorities as a ‘symbol of an extremist organisation’.

Harassment, threats, and acts of violence towards the LGBT+ community have increased.

The North Caucasus republics are particularly intolerant of the LGBT+ community. There have been reports of the arrest, torture and killing of gay men in Chechnya, allegedly conducted by Chechen regional authorities.

Read FCDO advice for LGBT+ travellers.


Russia has banned surrogacy for all foreigners except those married to Russian citizens. Read about surrogacy arrangements in foreign countries.

Religious activities

Some religious activities are restricted, including preaching and distributing religious materials.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are considered an extremist organisation in Russia. They can face harassment from authorities, including detention, particularly at places of worship.

Some other minority religious groups, like Scientologists, also face discrimination.

Transport risks

Road travel

If you’re planning to drive in Russia, see information on driving abroad and read the RAC Russia guide.

You need either a 1968 international driving permit (IDP) or a valid UK driving licence to drive in Russia. The 1949 IDP is not accepted anymore. You cannot buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel.

If you have a residence permit or acquire Russian citizenship you will be required to obtain a Russian driving licence within one year from obtaining the permit or acquiring citizenship. See ‘Living in Russia’ page.

Road safety in Russia is poor and road conditions unpredictable. Take care when driving, take account of weather conditions and consider avoiding driving at night. Do not drive alone at night or sleep in your vehicle on the side of the road. Do not pick up hitchhikers.

Traffic police will often stop drivers for spot checks.

Bringing vehicles into Russia

If you plan to drive into Russia, you must declare your vehicle to the customs authority on entry. You can bring a vehicle into Russia without paying import taxes for up to one year.

Green cards are no longer accepted as proof of car or road insurance. Check insurance requirements before entering.

For questions about bringing a vehicle into Russia, contact the Russian Embassy in the UK.

Avoiding unregistered taxis

British nationals travelling in unregistered taxis have been victims of crime. Taxis that look official can be unlicensed. You should:

  • use a local taxi app to call a registered taxi
  • ask your hotel to call a taxi or give you the number of a reputable company
  • agree the fare before getting into the taxi or check that the meter is working

Do not flag down a taxi or share a taxi with strangers.

Rail travel

Railway stations have airport-style security. Many railway services require passengers to show their passports on boarding.

If you are travelling by overnight train, store valuables in the container under the bed or seat. Do not look after luggage for other travelers or let it be stored in your compartment.

Do not leave your sleeping compartment empty, as some compartments only have a simple lock on the sliding door. On some trains, there may be an extra security device attached to the fitted handle or lock. There may also be a steel switch at head-height on the door panel which, when pulled down, prevents the closed door from being opened.

Air travel

Air space will close during drone attacks. This has led to frequent and unpredictable delays, diversions and cancellations to flights in and out of airports in European Russia.

There are restrictions on domestic flights to a number of airports in southern Russia, with disruption to internal flights to and from Moscow and other cities. Check the latest information with your airline or travel provider.

Air safety

The UK Air Safety List (ASL) lists all known airlines in Russia that do not meet international safety standards and are banned from operating commercial air services to, from, and within the UK. Check the UK Air Safety List when considering which airlines to fly with. The list is maintained by the Department for Transport, based on advice from the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

The UK government has sanctioned:

  • Aeroflot
  • Rossiya Airlines
  • Ural Airlines
  • Russian Railways

British nationals can buy flight tickets as long as the journey is starting in, or within, Russia without breaching UK sanctions. See more information from the Office for Financial Sanctions Implementation (PDF).

British government staff do not travel on banned airlines. If staff need to travel internally, they may use airlines which also fly to internationally to countries where international safety standards are maintained or on Western manufactured aircraft.

Travellers with limited mobility

Wheelchair access can be limited in some public areas. Facilities for people with limited mobility vary. They can be poor or non-existent in some areas.

See FCDO advice on disability and travelling abroad.

Natural disasters and extreme weather

Earth tremors

Earth tremors are recorded throughout the year without consequences. To learn more about what to do before, during and after an earthquake, see the website of the US Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Forest fires

There are areas of wildfires in western and southern Russia.

Arctic travel

Parts of Russia are in the Arctic Circle, including some very remote areas of land and sea. Emergency medical assistance and search and rescue are limited in these areas. See Arctic travel safety advice.

Before you travel check that:

  • your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
  • you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation

This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.

Emergency medical number

Dial 112 and ask for an ambulance.

Contact your insurance or medical assistance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Vaccinations and health risks

At least 8 weeks before your trip check:

Altitude sickness

Altitude sickness is a risk in parts of Russia, including in the Western Caucasus mountains. Read more about altitude sickness on TravelHealthPro.


There is a higher rate of HIV and AIDS in Russia than in the UK. Take normal precautions to avoid exposure.

Air quality

Air quality can worsen in some weather conditions. Monitor local media and the regional websites for the Ministry of Emergencies for more information.

Health examinations

If you’re in Russia for more than 90 days, you must have a regular comprehensive health examination. This applies to foreigners who are:

  • visiting
  • working
  • on highly qualified specialist visas
  • family members of any of the above, including children aged 6 and over

The examination includes tests for sexually transmitted infections and chest X-rays. You will have to submit fingerprints and other biometric data.

People working or on highly qualified specialist visas must complete the initial health check within 30 days from when you arrive in Russia.

People visiting, and in any other categories, must complete the health checks within 90 days.

Check with your employers and the Ministry of the Interior for the latest requirements.


The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.

If your medication contains narcotic or psychoactive substances, you must carry a prescription in your name, translated into Russian, and notarised. Notarisation services are available in the UK from a notary public.

Read best practice when travelling with medicines on TravelHealthPro.

The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad.

Healthcare facilities in Russia

FCDO has a list of English-speaking doctors in Russia.

European and Global Health Insurance Cards (EHIC and GHIC) are not valid in Russia. Any foreign national has a legal right to free medical care in life-threatening circumstances.

Medical care may not meet Western standards. Hospitals do not accept all health cases and may request payments before treatment.

In remote areas, hospitals may not use disposable intravenous (IV) supplies, syringes and needles as standard practice. You may want to have your own supply.

COVID-19 healthcare in Russia

Anyone with symptoms of a respiratory illness will normally have PCR and rapid antigen tests taken by their doctor. People who test positive for COVID-19 must self-isolate for 7 days.

Travel and mental health

Read FCDO guidance on travel and mental health. There is also mental health guidance on TravelHealthPro.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.

Emergency services in Russia

Telephone: 112 (ambulance, fire, police)

Contact your travel provider and insurer

Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.

Refunds and changes to travel

For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.

Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:

  • where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
  • how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim

Support from FCDO

FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:

Contacting FCDO

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this travel advice is updated.

You can also contact FCDO online.

Help abroad in an emergency

If you are abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

FCDO in London

You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.

Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)

Find out about call charges

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