What else you need to do: Migration cards and registration

Unfortunately, just getting a Russian visa is not the only formality you will have to go through when traveling to Moscow. There are two further pieces of paperwork that you need to obtain upon arrival in Russia to ensure that you comply with the requirements of Russian law. Failure to do so can result in your being fined on departure from the country and, for the vast majority of travelers, these procedures take a minimal amount of time and effort.

Migration cards

The migration card is a piece of paper the size of two standard passport pages that records your entry into and exit from the Russian Federation.

If you are arriving at a major airport, the migration card will be printed for you with your details at passport control, and you will be handed only the right-hand part of the form. At land border crossings and other entry points, you may still have to fill out the form by hand. Blank migration cards are normally to be found at counters in the waiting area before passport control. You will need to fill out both sides of the form (Arrival and Departure), and you can do this in Latin script. If you have booked with Moscow Hotels and used our free visa support to get your Russian visa, then you should mark "Tourism" as the "Purpose of travel", and in the next field where you are asked for the "Name of host person or company", write "ZAO Moscow Hotels". When you go through passport control, the form will be torn in half and the right-hand part will be returned to you.

You will need to submit this part of your migration card at passport control when you depart. If you are unable to do so, there is a high probability that you will face fines and other possible problems and delays, so please keep your migration card carefully and be sure to make a copy if you have the opportunity.

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By Russian law, all foreign travelers are required to register their place of temporary accommodation with the Federal Migration Service within seven working days. If you change your place of temporary accommodation, whether by changing accommodation in one Russian city or area or by traveling to a different part of Russia, this change should also be registered, again within seven working days.

This sounds daunting, but in fact for the vast majority of travelers it is a barely noticeable process that requires only the payment of a nominal fee and no extra effort on your part. If you are staying in a hotel, hostel or with any other accommodation provider properly registered and licensed to host foreign travelers, then you will be asked to hand over your passport at check in, and the reception staff or equivalent will be able to enter your details into the Migration Service database there and then. Each entry into this database incurs a fee to the user, and this fee (less than $5USD at time of writing) is normally passed on to the customer. You will then be given printed proof of registration (see image below) This process will be repeated each time you change your accommodation.

If you are not traveling on a Russian Tourist Visa and/or have made alternative accommodation arrangements such as staying with Russian friends, you should check in advance that your hosts or the organization issuing you with visa support can arrange for your registration. While the greater burden of responsibility for your registration lies on the party that issues you with visa support, travelers who do not duly register their arrival and movement in the Russian Federation are also liable to be fined, and may have problems getting repeat Russian visas in the future.

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