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Registering your visa in Russia

Tourist Visa Registration

According to Russian law, your Russian visa must be registered within 7 working days of your arrival (excluding weekends and official holidays).

So, if you stay in Russia seven working days or more, or you are involved in a civil ceremony such as getting married, then you need to register your visa.

We will send you a guide on registration when you order your visa.

What is visa registration?

Registration of visas is a form of migration control within Russia managed by UFMS (Federal Migration Service Organisation). It is not aimed specifically at tourists or business people, rather its general aim is to control illegal immigration from the former Soviet Republics into the Russian Federation, though as the law is all-encompassing, foreigners including tourists are also required to register.

Basically, registration involves placing a stamp either in your passport or on your migration card and obtaining a registration slip. The stamps and registration slip show the period you are registered to stay in any one place. In addition to the dates it will also contain the name of the hotel, accommodation or apartment, where you are staying and the name of the sponsor organisation.

Please be aware that the Russian militia often stop people to check their passports and travel documents, especially around train stations, metro stations, bus stations and areas such as the Kremlin, so remember to take your passport, migration card and registration slip with you every time you leave your hotel or apartment. There is nothing unusual in this and there is nothing to be worried about if you are stopped, so long as you have registered correctly.

If you are stopped by the Militia for any reason, they will check that you are registered to be in the city / town and that the dates are valid.

New rules implemented from 25th March 2011 mean that you should register within 7 working days of arrival, rather than the previous deadline of 3 working days.

It is the responsibility of the visitor to register in each place where you spend seven working days or more. When registering in each new city (where your stay is seven working days or more), you have to hand in the registration slip from the previous city, so we recommend taking a copy of all your registration slips. You must hand in the final original registration slip at the border on departure from Russia. In St Petersburg, however, registration is usually completed by hotels and agencies through an online system so you may be advised by the hotel/agency to keep the original registration slip from your previous city of stay (where applicable) rather than handing it in to the St Petersburg authorities; in that case, you should hand in both original registration slips at the border on exiting Russia.

What will happen if I don't register?

Remember, your Russian visa is an exit as well as entry visa, and if you don't register then technically it may lead to serious problems with the authorities including fines, detention, deportation and even prevention of leaving the country.

In practice, more often than not, if you have not registered your visa within the time required by Russian law you will be exposing yourself to "fines" by the local militia or other officials who may stop and check your passport.

If you have registered your visa correctly, or you had no need to register your visa, when stopped by the Militia - for example if you had only arrived the day before - and you are told you need to pay a "fine", stand your ground and say "no", you have not broken the law, they are just looking for a bribe. If they persist, insist that you call your embassy to inform them you are the subject of police harassment; this will in most cases put them off.

If you are stopped by the Militia and you have not registered your visa within the prescribed time, the maximum fine according to Russian law is now about 2,000-5,000 roubles (approx. £40-£100) and, regardless of what the Militia say, at this point it is highly unlikely that you would be deported (the Militia do not have the power to do this) as it is only a civil not a criminal offence. They can, if they choose, take you to the Militia station for up to three hours to record and check your details and after this can apply for your deportation. Because of this, we have heard in the past of people who have paid up to $500 in "fines" as it is very difficult, if not impossible, to say "no" when faced with a couple of burley, unsmiling and armed militiamen in a foreign country and threatened with a trip to the local police station and the possibility of deportation procedures!

It is now the responsibility of the visitor to register their stay and be able to hand in the original registration slip on departure. When leaving Russia through passport control at an international airport, crossing a land border or flying internally through a regional airport if you do not have correct registration then there is a chance that you can be fined (up to £1,000.00). In extreme situations you may also be deported "on the spot" and if this happens you will not be allowed to enter Russia for five years.

It is important to understand that if you are "officially fined" (that is your details have been taken and you have been given a receipt) twice for breeches of registration rules then this information will be recorded and be made available to the Russian consulates worldwide. In such a situation you may be blacklisted from obtaining a Russian visa for five years.

The best way to avoid such unpleasant situations is to register the visa as soon as you arrive.

Can you tell me more?

If you still have more questions please feel free to look at our Frequently Asked Questions, our Forum or, contact us directly and we'll be delighted to help.

Finally, remember that while we keep this guide as up to date as possible, and include feedback from clients where relevant, you should be aware that it is not a comprehensive guide to all cities and situations, that Russian Federal visa and registration rules change on a regular basis, often without notice, that some registration authorities in the regions may also implement their own version or they may simply refuse to register your visa even if they should. If you encounter registration problems while you are in Russia, please get in touch with us immediately and we will do our best to resolve these through our Russian offices and partners.

I'm staying in a hotel, how do I register?

If you are staying in a hotel or hostel, the hotel/hostel should register your visa (tourist or business) for you on arrival and may make a charge of approx. 750 Roubles. They may keep your passport while they do this, so don't leave the hotel until you have it back (or get a letter from the hotel saying they’re holding your original passport for registration purposes and carry that along with a copy of your passport, visa and migration card); you will have problems if you are stopped by the police without it.

Once you have received your passport and registration back from the hotel, do check that the dates they have put on it are correct.

I have a visa, I'm staying in Moscow or St. Petersburg but I'm not staying in a hotel, now what?

  1. If you are staying in Moscow, then our Moscow office can register your visa for you. Within five working days of arrival:

  • We will need a photocopy of your passport photo page and entry-stamped Russian visa as well as a photocopy of your migration card that you will receive (and have it stamped) on entry to Russia (if required you can do this at our office).

  • If you have pre-paid for registration, you can send us clear copies of the above-listed documents to registration@realrussia.co.uk.

  • Please note that once your visa support document is issued the pre-paid registration fees are non-refundable.

  • Applications received at our Moscow office before 2pm will be ready for collection after 2pm the next working day. Please note that Wednesday is not considered a working day for registration processing so applications received on Wednesday or after 2pm on Tuesday will only be ready on Friday. However, Wednesdays do count towards the 7 working days within which you should register.

  • If you have not pre-paid for registration of your tourist visa then the registration fee payable in our Moscow office is $30 (USD), payable in Roubles at the prevailing bank rate. Please note that the tourist visa registration service is only available where we have either processed the tourist visa as a full service, or, where we have provided the visa support document.

  • For business visas the registration fee payable in our Moscow office is $60 (USD) for up to 1 month registration and $75 (USD) for up to 3 months registration, payable in Roubles at the prevailing central bank rate.

  • We will then complete the required forms and submit these to the local UFMS.

  • Once we have arranged your registration, you will need to collect the original registration slip from us (so that you can carry it with you and hand it in at the border on departure from Russia), or request that it is couriered to you (for an additional fee).

  • It is the responsibility of the visitor to register, and to hand in the registration slip at the border on departure in order to de-register. Remember, that if you do not de-register your visa then you may face fines when leaving Russia or have difficulty obtaining another visa for your next trip.

  • Remember, if you re-enter Russia again, even using the same visa, then you will need to register your visa again.

  • Please note if you fail to register within the seven working day window and want to register after this there is a fine of £150.00 levied by the Moscow UFMS - so if you are registering in Moscow through our office then we request that you visit us within five working days of arrival to avoid this.

  • If Moscow is not the first Russian city you visit and you arrive in Moscow after the seventh working day in Russia then the Moscow UFMS may apply an additional cost to your registration which is directly payable to our Moscow office. You will also need to provide proof of your date of arrival in Moscow (e.g. a copy of a train ticket).

  1. If you are staying in St. Petersburg, then our partner office can register your visa for you:

  • If you have pre-paid for registration then within five working days of arrival, you can send clear scanned copies of your passport photo page, entry-stamped Russian visa and your migration card that you will receive (and have it stamped) on entry to Russia to visas@realrussia.co.uk.

  • Alternatively, you can contact our partner office on arrival in St. Petersburg to arrange to take your documents to them in person (if required you can make copies of these at their office).

  • Please note that once your visa support document is issued the pre-paid registration fees are non-refundable.

  • If you have not pre-paid to register your tourist visa then the registration fee must be paid in our St Petersburg partner office directly, so you will have to visit them rather than sending your documents by email.

  • They will then complete the required forms and submit these to the local UFMS.

  • The partner office (or us in case you have pre-paid for registration and emailed the documents to us) will advise you when to collect your registration slip (this should be within 2 working days).

  • You must carry the original slip with you during your stay in Russia and hand it in at the border on departure.

  • Remember, if you re-enter Russia again, even using the same visa, then you will need to register your visa again.

  1. You may complete the required forms yourself and take these to the relevant UFMS office.

  • For all types of visas, the relevant UFMS is the one local to the place that you are staying and registering against

  • A photocopy of your passport page, your stamped migration card and visa

  • A copy of your landlord's passport and registration, and proof of ownership document

  • You will need to take the landlord with you to complete the notification of arrival form

  • You will be issued with an original registration slip, which you should carry with you while in Russia

  • When you leave Russia, you must hand in the original registration slip to "de-register" your visa. Remember, that if you do not de-register your visa then you may face fines when leaving Russia or have difficulty obtaining another visa for your next trip. If you re-enter Russia again, even using the same visa, then you will need to register your visa again.

I'm not staying in a hotel and I'm not staying in Moscow or St. Petersburg, what should I do?

If you are not staying in Moscow or St. Petersburg and you are not staying at a hotel, you will need to register your visa with the local UFMS (Federal Migration Service Organisation). While it may not be necessary, some places require an official letter requesting UFMS officials to register your with your other documents. Please make sure that you select "Registration support letter required" when you order your visa, and, when you receive your passport and visa:

Send us by email to registration@realrussia.co.uk or fax to +44 (0) 207 900 3633

  • A scan, or clear fax, of your visa
  • The full address of the private apartment that you will be staying at and the person who will be your host/landlord

We will then prepare your registration support letter and send it to you by email usually the same day we receive your details.

Please note that this is not the registration itself, it is a letter requesting registration. Print out the letter and when in Russia take this to the local UFMS along with your passport and migration card (which you received on entry to Russia); you should be accompanied by your landlord (who should take their passport, registration and property ownership proof). Your landlord will be asked to complete a notification of arrival form. The UFMS should then register your visa; experience shows that if all documents are correct it will usually takes about 15 minutes (after you work your way through the queues which can take several hours).

The registration will take the form of the completed tear of registration slip from the bottom of the notification of arrival form. You must carry this registration slip with you while in Russia.

When you leave Russia, you have to hand in the registration slip at the border to "de-register" your visa. Remember, if you do not de-register your visa then you may face fines when leaving Russia or have difficulty obtaining another visa for your next trip. If you re-enter Russia again, even using the same visa then you will need to register your visa again.

I don't want to go to the UFMS, what can I do?

In some regions and cities the UFMS can be an unpleasant place for foreigners to visit, while in others you will have no problems at all.

If you are staying in a private apartment and don't want to visit the local UFMS, then Russian Federal Law now allows you to register through the local post office. In almost all cases the documents you will need to take are:

  1. a clear photocopy of the photo page of your passport.

  2. a clear photocopy of your visa and migration card including the latest entry stamp.

  3. a clear photocopy of the photo page of your landlord's internal passport.

  4. a clear photocopy of the current registration stamp of the landlord, this must be the same as the address you are registering against.

  5. two completed notification of arrival forms.

  6. a large A4 envelope for posting the items to the regional UFMS; the post office will be able to supply you with the correct address; the landlord will also have to complete a couple of post office receipts detailing the contents of the package.

  7. there will be a fee to pay at the post office in Roubles that will depend on local UFMS policy, how long you are staying and the type of visa you have.

After queuing, assuming you have the correct documents, the whole process takes about 5 to 10 minutes, the post office will check your documents, compile the application and provide you with your registration slip stamped with a post office stamp.

When you leave Russia, you have to hand in the registration slip at the border to "de-register" your visa. Remember, if you do not de-register your visa then you may face fines or have difficulty obtaining another visa for your next trip. If you re-enter Russia again, even using the same visa, then you will need to register your visa again.

You may find in some cities that the post office is reluctant to register business visas, tourist visas or visas where the date of entry was more than seven days ago; in these cases you will be directed to the local UFMS.

As an alternative to registering with the UFMS, often in many provincial cities you can find a "friendly" hotel who will register your visa for you for a fee, even if you are not staying there. Some insist that you stay a night or two (or at least pay for the room) before registering your visa, while other just make a flat charge. This depends on the city and region, though typically is between $20 to $50. If you choose this option, please do so only if you are having difficulty registering at the local UFMS in time or for some other reason.

I have a private visa, how do I register?

While a private visa (obtained based on a private invitation sent from friends or relatives in Russia to you in the UK, or more simply if you are entering with a UK-based Russian spouse or parent) can be an exercise in frustration to obtain, a major benefit is that it is very easy to register to a private address (i.e. not a hotel) for a visit of up to 90 days.

Simply take your passport and migration card to the local UFMS office when you arrive in the town or city that issued the invitation and they will register the visa for you. You do not need to take a copy of the invitation document or anything else, all information is encoded on the visa. The hardest part can be actually getting someone to be interested in registering the visa for you, especially during the summer or holiday periods, but persevere and ensure that you get registered within seven working days.

Are there any cities that are difficult to register in?

Most cities throughout Russia are relatively straightforward to register in, and if you plan on staying in a hotel then you should have no problems with registration.

If you are staying in one of the following “restricted” cities and not in a hotel, you will need:

a. to list the city as one to be visited, when you are requesting your visa or visa support from us, and have a copy of your visa support documents with you when you arrive in Russia.
b. to get a registration support letter from us once you are in Russia.

If the UFMS (Federal Migration Service Organisation) fails to register your visa due to their interpretation of the Migration Law, you can use one of the following options:

  1. Try to register via a post office.
  2. Try to find a friendly hotel that will be willing to provide you with registration at a reasonable fee, without obligation to stay at the hotel.
  3. Send us a scanned copy of your passport photo page, as well as scanned copies of your visa and migration card to registration@realrussia.co.uk, and we will then register your visa via our Moscow office.

a. If you get registration via our Moscow office and plan on visiting one of the cities listed below, please make us aware, so that we can register your visa in Moscow to cover the entire duration of your stay in Russia.
b. Should you be stopped by the police while in one of the “restricted cities”, you will need to state that you are mostly staying in Moscow where your visa has been registered, and that you do not intend on staying in the “restricted” city for more than 7 working days.

If you didn’t have problems in one of the “restricted” cities mentioned below while staying in a private apartment or, vice versa, had problems but successfully managed to register your visa, please let us know by posting a message to our forum or send us an email to registration@realrussia.co.uk. Your feedback is greatly appreciated!

ASTRAKHAN

While Astrakhan is not technically a "restricted city" the local authorities request additional documents for registration if the individual is not staying in a hotel registered for foreigners. For registration periods over seven days the inviting organisation needs to provide:

  1. A copy of the passport of the General Director
  2. A company letter stating that the inviting company will take all responsibility for the invited person during their stay in Russia.

These conditions are not possible for our or almost any other Russian company to provide and you should consider this information when organising trips to this area.

BARNAUL

DIMITROVGRAD

While this area is not restricted, the local authorities penalise people who try to register non “private” visas at private addresses. So, if you have a tourist, business or other type of visa, and are staying in a private apartment, then you should not register this locally or you will be officially fined which can lead to a 5 year ban on entering Russia.

GORNO-ALTAYSK

KAMCHATKA and PETROPAVLOVSK-KAMCHATSKY

As of 01.02.2007 this region is now only allowed to be entered by foreign nationals who receive a special permit from the local authorities. It is not possible to request business or tourist visas to allow entry alone, the visa must be accompanied by the new permit, which can take up to three months to process.

If travelling on a tourist or business visa then a scan of your visa should be sent to the local FSB before you enter the region.

Here are contact details of a company who can help with the permit, however, you will need to book a tour with them:

Russian Discovery
Tel: +7 495 125-28-08
email: go@russiadiscovery.ru

NALCHIK

As with all cities in the Southern Caucasus region, it is very important that you have a copy of your visa support documents with you when entering and leaving the region otherwise you could face extreme difficulty with the authorities including repeated fines.

NIZHNY NOVGOROD

If you are flying directly into Nizhny Novgorod from outside of Russia, for example from Vienna, and wish to use a tourist visa, this now requires a special voucher which we are unable to provide.

This new voucher does not apply if you are using a business visa, or travelling to Nizhny Novgorod from a Russian city.

NORILSK

Norilsk is a closed city for foreigners and you need to obtain a business invitation from a local organisation to avoid the risk of being turned away at the local airport. You should not use a tourist visa under any circumstances.

NOVOSIBIRSK

PERM

PYATIGORSK

ROSTOV-ON-DON

SAKHALIN

If you are travelling to the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk / Sakhalin region, please note that this is a place of restricted passport control.

The Sakhalin local Authorities (Migration Department) exercise close control over all building sites, plant facilities, and other places where foreign citizens can work. If the Authorities find a foreign citizen working there on a business visa invitation processed by some "non-local" company they will deport these people. At the same time the Sakhalin Authorities will apply sanctions to the company that processed business invitations and also to the Sakhalin company that invited the foreign citizens for work.

Certainly, foreign citizens can enter Sakhalin on business visas provided by Real Russia if they intend to take a part in meetings, negotiations, conferences, etc. but not for work!

As such we may contact you to confirm the exact nature of your business in the region to avoid any potential problems.

SAMARA

SARATOV

TYUMEN

While this area is not restricted, the local authorities penalise people who try to register non “private” visas at private addresses. So, if you have a tourist, business or other type of visa, and are staying in a private apartment, then you should not register this locally or you will be officially fined which can lead to a 5 year ban on entering Russia.

YAMAL DISTRICTS

This region has many restricted and sanctuary zones you need to have a special permit to visit. Here are contact details of a company who can help with the permit:

http://www.welcome2yamal.ru/
Tourist Information Centre:
Telephone: +7(34922)-4-49-49
e-mail: visit@yamaltour.info

How long can I stay in Russia when I have registered my visa?

If you have a one or three month visa (tourist or business), you may stay in Russia for the entire validity period of the visa (though you may need to re-new your business registration if it was not done for the full 3 months straight away).

If you have a multiple entry visa then you are restricted to staying in Russia for a total of 90 days in a 180 day window. This 180 window starts from the first day that you use the visa.

Please remember, if you have a double or multiple entry visa, then you will need to renew your registration if you re-enter Russia.

Please note that effective 01.06.07, according to new Russian migration laws and dependent upon your nationality, there may be further restrictions on how long you can stay in Russia during any specific periods and this restriction if it applies will be written into the visa.

Do I only have to register my visa once?

In theory you should register your visa when you arrive in a city, or town within seven working days. So, if you arrive in Moscow and stay for 7 days and move on to St. Petersburg for 7 days then you need to obtain a registration slip in both cities (though you will hand in the first city’s registration slip in the second city when you get a new registration slip for your time there).

If you are not staying in a city or town for seven working days then there is no "technical" need to register, however, if you have the chance to register easily then you should do so as it avoids any potential problems with "gaps" in your registration.

Where you have been travelling between cities you should keep copies of any tickets to show the period of the journey if requested to explain gaps in the registration.

What if I am travelling and don't have a chance to register?

If you arrive in Russia and then continue to transit to your final destination without the chance to register your visa, for example arrive in Moscow on a Saturday and take the Sunday train from Moscow through to Vladivostok, which takes over 6 days, then you should keep copies of your plane, rail or other travel tickets and show these to any official who asks to show why you could not register.

When you arrive at your final destination, or if you have a chance en route then please ensure that you register your visa as soon as possible.

What is the migration card?

When you cross the border into Russia, for example by air from London into Moscow or overland by train from Helsinki into St Petersburg, then you will be given a migration card which you will need to complete. The card is in two parts, part "A" and "B", and both parts need to be completed (in block capitals) before you go through passport control.

Part "A" of the card will be kept by passport control on entry and part "B" is returned to you with an entry stamp on it - do not lose this card and keep it with your passport at all times. When you leave Russia you need to present passport control with part "B" of your migration card containing your entry stamp and your registration slip, if applicable.

If you have failed to register your visa correctly or lost your migration card or registration slip, then you may have problems with passport control when leaving Russia including fines of up to £1,000.

Part "B" of a migration card showing an entry stamp

UFMS registration stamp on the rear of part "B" of a migration card

 

In some cases, the migration card may only be in Russian and not have an English translation and you may find the following sample form below useful.

Sample migration card only in Russian with English translation of text

What is the notification of arrival form and registration slip?

The notification of arrival form is a form is required if you are not staying in a hotel and is filled in either in our office in Moscow or St. Petersburg if we are registering your visa for you, or at the local UFMS/post office if you are registering your own visa. The form is entirely in Russian. A sample of the form may be viewed by clicking here and remember that if you are printing this out for use later that it needs to be double sided on a single sheet of paper with the "tear off" registration slip aligned on each side.

The form contains personal information and data about you, your trip to Russia, your passport and visa details, the address and details of your receiving party (landlord of the property you are staying at) and details of your inviting organisation.

When this information is completed, at the UFMS they will tear off the bottom part of the form and give this to you; this is your registration and you should keep it with your passport and migration card at all times.

When you leave Russia, you have to hand in the registration slip at the border to "de-register" your visa. Remember, that if you do not de-register your visa then you may face fines of up to £1,000 when leaving Russia or have difficulty obtaining another visa for your next trip. If you are considered to have severely violated registration rules, you could face being blacklisted from obtaining a Russian visa for 5 years. If you re-enter Russia again, even using the same visa, then you will need to register your visa again.

Tear off registration slip showing "host" or "receiving person details" and UFMS stamp.