Money in Russia

Money in Russia is something that many people are concerned about, however, just as in all countries, if you are careful you will not have any problems.

Have a look at our short guide to money in Russia, and as usual if you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us.

What are the currency rates?

The currency of Russia is the Rouble, which, after a shaky period during the 1990s enjoyed a period of stability in the first decade of 2000. However due to economic and political problems the Rouble rapidly lost more than 50% of its value over the course of 2014/2015. It currently remains very volatile with exchange rate swings of 5% or more a day not uncommon.

Exchange rate data for 17 May 2016

ECB exchange rates 93.11 65.24 73.87
Typical cash rates 85.66 60.20 67.96

The rates shown above are the current European Central Bank exchange rates for today, however, you will not be able to buy (or sell) Roubles at this rate and it is for reference only. The "cash rate" shown is the rate that you will typically be able to buy your Roubles at in the UK.

If you want to take some Roubles with you then there are selected banks that you can order them from, or the post office though remember the rate is not the greatest typically being about 7%-8% less than what you will obtain in Russia yourself.

What sort of money should I take to Russia?

Although the Russian economy is rapidly modernising and credit cards are widely accepted, in many situations you will need cash.

Until recently, the US Dollar was the currency of choice to take and still is accepted everywhere, though in recent years the Euros also has become equally as well accepted.

British pounds and travellers cheques may be taken, but outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg you may find them difficult to change and even then the rates will not be so advantageous.

When you are leaving Russia you will find it easier to buy Dollars or Euros than British Pounds, and remember, that unless you want some Roubles as a souvenir you will find it nearly impossible to change them when you arrive back home.

If you want to take some Roubles with you then there are selected banks that you can order them from, or the post office though remember the rate is not the greatest typically being about 7%-8% less than what you will obtain in Russia yourself.

What will my money buy?

The prices you can expect to pay can vary from city to city, with the prices generally higher in the larger cities, such as Moscow and Saint Petersburg. You may also find that prices may be a little higher for you as a tourist than they may be for a local, this is particulalry true of taxi journeys.

In order to help you plan your spending while travelling through Russia we have put together a handy 'Russian Budget Planner' which can be found here. With this planner you can select how many of the most common items/expenses you think you will need to budget for while travelling, and we will offer an approximate total for how much money you may need to take with you; this will be presented to you in Roubles, Euros, Pound Sterling and US Dollars.

As a brief overview, in Russia you can expect to pay the following for these selected items/expenses:

  • A loaf of Bread — 20 - 35 Roubles
  • A trip on the metro — 50 Roubles
  • A bottle of beer — 70 - 100 Roubles
  • A bottle of Vodka — 375 - 500 Roubles
  • A short Taxi Journey — 150 - 200 Roubles
  • A cafe snack — 700 - 1,000 Roubles
  • A meal for two in a good Restaurant — 2,500 - 3,500 Roubles

Generally, all cash transactions are carried out in Roubles and prices will be marked as such. However, in some places, specifically those catering for wealthier clients, the prices may be marked in 'standard units', usually as 'YE'.

This 'standard unit' is often the US Dollars. Increasingly, though, this may be the Euro. So, if you think you have bought a glass of beer for 10 Roubles and the bill arrives as 300, you will know why!

Where can I change money in Russia?

Changing money in Russia is not difficult, in many respects it is a national past time! However, we do recommend that you do not change money with people on the street offering a "better rate" as not only is this illegal, it can also be dangerous.

Generally, you can change money in exchange booths, which you will see on every practically every street. These offer better rates than the hotels or banks, though, if you want to draw money using your credit card a bank or ATM is the better option. If you use your card to withdraw cash in a bank you will need to show your passport and it can take 30 minutes or more to complete the transaction. Note that most banks and ATM's will charge a percentage to issue the money even with a debit card, typically this is 1% to 1.5%.

To change money, all you need to do is hand over the cash and in some cases your passport. In official exchange booths or banks you will be given a document that details the exchange, please keep this in case you are asked on departure by the customs where you got your money from. Please see the section below on importing and exporting money.

When you change your money you will get a series of notes (Roubles) and coins (Kopeks). The main notes are:

Rouble Notes £ (GBP) $ (USD) € (EUR)
1000 £10.31 $14.91 €13.33
500 £5.15 $7.45 €6.66
100 £1.03 $1.49 €1.33
50 £0.52 $0.75 €0.67
10 £0.10 $0.15 €0.13

Do I need to Tip?

Tipping is not widely spread in Russia, though has recently become common in the larger cities frequented by foreign visitors. If you choose to leave a tip a figure of 10% of the total bill is the accepted practice. If you are tipping for service, make sure that you give this directly to the person serving you, otherwise they may not see it!

Tipping in a place that you visit several times will ensure that you are afforded extra special service.

What about Credit Cards?

Many places in Russia will take credit card payments, however, caution should be used when paying using them. While I personally don't know anyone who has been the victim of credit card fraud, it is generally highly reported in Russia.

Hotels and Banks are considered safe, though when paying using your credit card, make sure that you keep all receipts in case of any problems when you return home.

Importing and Exporting Money

You may "import" into the Russian Federation up to $10,000 (or equivalent) and "export" up to $3,000 without declaring it at the customs. If you export from the country a sum of money over $3,000 and up to $10,000 it must be declared on departure.

If you are exporting from the country a sum of over $10,000 you must provide documentary proof that you either imported it into the country or have legally obtained it whilst in the country.

If you complete a [declaration] form to state that you are bringing in more than $3,000 you must ensure that it is stamped by a Customs official at your port of entry or it will not be valid. [declaration] forms are freely available at the ports of entry.

If you cash travellers cheques, or obtain money from a bank, make sure you keep all documents as proof. Please note, that travellers cheques may be difficult to cash and be charged at a premium, outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg. Sterling may also be difficult to change so we recommend you take either US dollars or Euros.

NOTE! If you fail to complete a declaration form on arrival or to get it validated by Customs officials your foreign currency and non-declared items may be confiscated when you leave Russia and you may be fined.