Is it possible to visit Russia as a tourist right now? (Q&A)

Alexander Kryazhev/Sputnik
Russia continues to soften the rules on entry of foreign tourists into the country in the wake of the COVID pandemic. Here are the latest updates.

Who can enter Russia as a tourist?

At present, people from 80 countries can enter Russia. There are two main conditions: first, one must be a citizen of that country or have a permanent residence permit; and second - one needs to enter Russia by plane. The primary document that regulates entry during the coronavirus pandemic is Order no. 635-r (March 16, 2020), which is regularly updated. 

Some of the countries on the list include the United States, Britain, Greece, Germany, Tunisia, Israel, Japan, Armenia, Qatar, Portugal, Mexico, Croatia, Belgium, China, France, Denmark, New Zealand, Iran, Peru, Norway and Argentina. Click here for the full list. 

In the meantime, any country with which Russia currently has a travel agreement can serve as the port of departure (however, the transit country must be on the above list).

What type of visa is required?

Those who already have a valid Russian visa - and citizens of the above countries - can enter Russia using that visa. Those who do require a visa can submit their documents at the Russian consulate in their home country.

What is still not possible at this point is obtaining a unified electronic visa (a type of visa that is valid for up to 16 days, takes only four days to process and does not require submitting any documents relating to the purpose of visit). Therefore, in order to receive a regular tourist visa (valid up to six months) it is necessary to have a confirmed accommodation booking or an agreement with a travel agency.

Is a COVID test required?

Yes, PCR tests must be performed no earlier than 48 hours before arriving in Russia. The results must be printed in Russian or English (this is required even if you received a Sputnik-V vaccine shot). If you’re flying with children, they, too, must obtain a test, irrespective of age. And a form for arrivals must be filled in before entering the country.

Who is not affected by the rules? 

These restrictions don’t apply to foreigners with a valid Russian residence permit or those with close relatives. They can enter Russia from any country using any means of transportation, including by land.

They also do not apply to partially recognized republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as well as citizens of Belarus (or those with Belarusian permanent residence permits), Kazakhstan and citizens of the Donetsk and Lugansk national republics. Entering by land is also possible when traveling from Mongolia or China. 

Furthermore, if Eurasian Economic Union citizens cross over by land, they don’t have to submit a coronavirus test or fill out the arrivals form. 

Is vaccination required? 

No. The QR codes required for visiting public gatherings before spring (including cafes, bars, hotels, etc.) are no longer required in the majority of regions. The same goes for various other COVID restrictions: regions have the final say, but almost all have been lifted.

What about masks?

Masks are also no longer a requirement. However, some regions still require people to wear masks in some places, including stores, pharmacies, shopping malls, movie theaters and so on. In Moscow, the rule on masks has been completely lifted, while, for example, in Kaliningrad, some places still enforce them. 

Are there any quarantine regulations in place?

No, you will not be required to quarantine on arrival to Russia. However, if you get sick in Russia, you will have to be quarantined for a period of seven days at your own expense. Those who have come in contact with infected people do not require quarantining (provided they did not contract the coronavirus). 

Important! In many countries, there are still restrictions on LEAVING for the purpose of tourism, so having a Russian visa does not guarantee you will get permission to leave your country. This must be clarified before making any trips.

The information listed here is valid as of June 1, 2022. 

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