The Department of Foreign Affairs strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including evacuation by air ambulance, before travelling to the Russian Federation. You should check any exclusions and ensure that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.
Travellers should note that the Irish Government does not provide funds for emergency medical repatriation or for the repatriation of remains or for expenses incurred by Irish citizens as a result of a personal emergency while travelling.
Please note that Irish citizens require visas when travelling to the Russian Federation. We strongly advise all travellers not to overstay their visas.
Safety and Security
There is a high threat from terrorism in Russia, including suicide bombings in public places. Caution and vigilance in public places is advised. Attacks have occurred most frequently in Moscow and in the North Caucasus. As a result, the photographing of any military installation, establishment or site of strategic importance is prohibited; this includes airports and metro stations. People who do not observe this rule are likely to have their cameras confiscated, be detained for questioning and possibly arrested.
Given the volatile security situation in the North Caucasus, we strongly advise against all travel to Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan and to the eastern and southern parts of Stavropol Krai bordering Chechnya and Dagestan, including the Budyonnovsky, Levkumsky, Neftekumsky, Stepnovsky and Kursky regions. We strongly advise against all but essential travel to North Ossetia, Karachai-Cherkessia and Kabardino-Balkaria (including the Elbrus region). Terrorism and kidnapping are a risk in these areas.
Presidential elections were held on Sunday 4 March 2012. Political rallies took place before the elections and have continued to take place at intervals. You should check local media for the latest information, remain vigilant, and avoid any areas where large scale protests are planned or taking place.
• On 19 July 2012, the Mufti of Kazan was injured by a car bomb in Kazan. His former deputy was shot dead in Kazan earlier that day.
• From 18-21 February 2011, three Russian tourists were killed in attacks on a ski lift and minibus in the Mt. Elbrus area in Kabarno-Balkaria. Mt. Elbrus has becoming increasingly popular as a tourist destination in recent years. However, travel to the area is not advisable, given its proximity to insecure areas of the North Caucasus region.
• On 24 January 2011, a bomb exploded in the international arrivals section of Domodedevo Airport in Moscow. Over thirty people were killed and many more were injured.
• On 19 October 2010, the Chechen Parliament building was attacked in Grozny, resulting in the deaths of six people and injuries to seventeen.
• On 9 September 2010, a suicide bomber blew up a car in Vladikavkaz market square, in the North Caucasus republic of North Ossetia. Fifteen people were killed and over ninety injured.
• On 29 March 2010, two suicide bombings on the Moscow metro resulted in the deaths of thirty nine people and many others were injured.
• On 27 November 2009, an express train from Moscow to St. Petersburg was derailed. This is thought to been have been a deliberate act of terrorism. Twenty seven people died and it is estimated that a hundred others were injured.
Those intending to travel to or within the Russian Federation should avoid travelling on airlines subject to the EU operating ban. Further information about this ban is available on the website of the European Commission on http://ec.europa.eu/transport/air-ban/list_en.htm
The vast majority of visits to the Russian Federation proceed smoothly. However, you are advised to be vigilant at all times and also watch out for pickpockets and street crime, especially in large cities and in busy areas, e.g. railway concourses, particularly in St Petersburg, with tourists being targeted specifically. If you are stopped by police officers, always insist on seeing ID. Avoid openly carrying expensive items, or anything that might easily identify you as a tourist.
Racially motivated attacks by racist groups do occur in Russia. If you are of Asian, Afro-Caribbean or Southern European descent, we advise you to take extra care. Racially motivated attacks have also been known to take place on or around 20 April (Hitler’s birthday).
Please note that there is a zero tolerance policy on drink-driving in Russia and that long prison sentences are given to those found guilty of possessing drugs.
Those who wish to travel by taxi while in Russia would be advised to book an official taxi service through their hotel and to agree on the price of the journey in advance.
Tap water is not drinkable throughout Russia. Caution should be exercised and local advice sought. Bottled mineral water is widely available.
Those travelling to the Russian Federation should seek medical advice and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date.
Russia suffered several thousand cases of H1N1 Influenza (Human Swine 'Flu) in late 2009, with 16 deaths officially reported. Caution is advised with regards to infectious diseases, particularly in crowded areas such as the Metro system in Moscow. Pharmacies are marked by a green cross, as in Ireland, and in central Moscow and St Petersburg, most operate on a 24-hour basis.
Russia experiences a particularly harsh winter between November and March. Caution is advised for visitors during this time. Driving conditions outside city centres can become very difficult. When travelling on foot, pavements can become extremely icy, so good walking shoes are essential.
Local Laws and Customs
Homosexuality was illegal in the USSR up until 1993 when it was decriminalised. However, a federal law has recently been approved that prohibits the promotion of homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism in the Russian Federation. Fines can now be imposed on those who provide information about the homosexual, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities to minors. According to the legislation, public displays of affection or activities regarded as counter to the law may also lead to fines, arrests and deportations.
Irish citizens require visas when travelling to the Russian Federation.
Effective from 1 July 2011, the Russian Embassy is to continue its practice to accept only on-line electronic visa applications which should only be accessed at the following web-link: http://evisa.kdmid.ru/
Further details are available on the Russian Embassy website at www.ireland.mid.ru.
For further information on entry/exit requirements and immigration information for Russia, please contact the Embassy of the Russian Federation to Ireland:
We recommend that Irish citizens applying for a visa should do so as early as possible and ensure that their documents are completed according to the guidelines, as per the website. We also strongly advise all travellers to Russia not to overstay their visas.
It is a legal requirement in Russia to have your passport and your migration card with you at all times while in Russia.
All foreign nationals travelling to Russia are usually asked to complete a migration card on the plane. One part of the card is to be submitted to Immigration on arrival. Alternatively, at a number of Russian airports, you may instead be asked to complete a migration card on reaching Passport Control.
Please note that you must retain the other part of the card for the duration of your stay in Russia-it will be need to be shown when checking into hotels, when departing Russia and/or if asked for proof of identity by the police. You must complete a new migration card each time you enter Russia, even if you have a multi-entry visa. Losing your migration card could delay your departure from Russia and fines may be incurred.
Foreign citizens must register their presence in Russia if staying for more than seven days. If staying in a hotel, the hotel should organise this for you. If staying privately, foreign citizens must be registered by the owner of the property at the nearest branch of the Federal Migration Service (FMS).
Natural Disasters and Climate
• It is estimated that over 170 people died as a result of flooding in the Krasnodar region, particularly in the city of Krymsk, in south western Russia, on 7 July 2012. Further information and advice may be found on the website of the Ministry for Emergency Situations at http://www.mchs.gov.ru
• Following the difficulties experienced at the Fukushima nuclear plant after the earthquake that struck Japan on 11 March 2011, the Russian Ministry of Emergencies continues to monitor radiation levels in the Sakhalin, Khaborsky and Primorsky areas. Further information may be obtained from the following website: http://www.mchs.gov.ru/eng/
Additional Country Information
The Rouble is the unit of currency in Russia. If you wish to purchase roubles in Russia, we advise that you take Euro or US dollars to change. All notes should be in good condition. You should only change money at banks, hotels and recognised exchange kiosks. You will need to show your passport and visa to change money. It is an offence to change money from street traders. It is illegal to pay directly with dollars or euro. Most hotels, restaurants and larger shops accept credit cards, but smaller shops do not. ATMs exist in most major cities. Travellers’ cheques are not widely accepted.
Contact details for the Embassy of Ireland in Moscow are available here .
For emergency assistance, advice and support in the Russian Federation, Irish citizens should contact the Embassy on +7 495 937 5911.
The Embassy's website may be found at the following address: www.embassyofireland.ru
Please note that the Irish Embassy is not in a position to offer assistance to dual Irish/Russian citizens requiring consular assistance in Russia.Top