Visa: To enter Russia, travelers must possess a valid passport and Russian visa which is only valid for two exact dates, the earliest date to enter Russia, and the date by which must leave Russia. Travelers should also ensure that your visas reflect intended activities in Russia (e.g., tourism, study, business, etc.).
Document Checks: Russian police officers have the authority to stop people and check their identity and travel documents at any time, and without cause. Due to the possibility of random document checks, travelers should carry passports, migration cards, and visas with them at all times.
Migration Card: A two-part migration card must be filled by foreign visitor upon arrival, one part of the card is deposited with immigration authorities at the port of entry, and the other part has to be kept for the duration of your stay and submitted to immigration authorities upon departure.
Hotel Registration: Foreign visitors are required to present migration cards along with passports when registering at hotels.
Customs: Travelers enter/exit Russia with more than 10,000 U.S. dollars, or the equivalent in another currency including banker's draft and checks of any kind, must be declared. Upon arrival in Russia travelers must declare all items of value on a customs form, and the same form must be presented to customs officials at the time of departure. Russian rubles are not allowed to export.
Lost Luggage: Russian officials require that when luggage is lost on the way to Russia, the passenger must return to the airport and personally escort the bag through Russian customs. Under a strict interpretation of this law, airlines may not deliver a lost bag to the traveler’s final destination. Not all airlines will reimburse the traveler for any expenses related to retrieving the lost luggage.
Telephone: Calling Russia from USA, dial 011+7+phone number. Contact your cell telephone provider to determine if your phone operates on the Global System for Mobile Communications (GMS) and what, if any, activation may be required.
Time Difference from USA: Russia is 7 hours ahead of New York (EST) and 10 hours ahead of Los Angeles (PST).
Money Matters: The ruble (RUB) is the only legal tender currency in Russia, 1 RUB equals to 100 kopeks. It is illegal to use U.S. dollars or Euro in Russia except at authorized retail establishments. The rubles can be freely converted at banks, high-class hotels, stores and exchange offices. When exchanging money, be sure to keep the original receipts in order to convert RUB back to US dollars later on. Credit cards and traveler’s check are not popular in Russia.
Electricity: Electricity in Russia is 220V 50Hz. It is advisable to bring your own international travel converter and adapter.
Water & Foods: Russian cuisine is usually simple. Food in hotel is mostly provided in traditional Russian delights. Never drink tap water in Russia. Drink and brush your teeth only with bottled water. Bottled water is available to purchase everywhere. Be careful to avoid ice, raw foods and vegetables.
Climate & Clothing: Russia is a vast land and there is great difference in climate. In summer, the temperature can range from sunny and warm (80’s) to overcast and rainy (40’s). Bring comfortable casual clothing with you. A raincoat or an umbrella and warm jacket are useful in all seasons. Check websites for weather conditions before you go, and pack accordingly.
Shopping: A wide range of goods, such as watches, ceramics and glass, jewelry and toys may be bought in Moscow and St Petersburg. Traditional souvenirs like Matryoshka dolls (wooden dolls within dolls), engraved amber, and Fabergé eggs are widely available and attractive.
Photography & Etiquette: Be very alert to the surroundings. Be careful to obey its law, respect its traditions and cultures, and take precautions against assault, robbery, pickpockets, or walking alone. Be very careful about photographing stations, official-looking buildings and any type of military-security structure.