Updates on travel to and through Russia

  • WRITTEN BY Brent McCunn
  • DATE August 19, 2020

We still get questions about travel to Russia – at this time. Our bottom line is still – do not.

While some parts of Russia are making great efforts to minimise problems (Russian Railways – read article) other sectors are not. Their health system struggles, especially if you are away from a major centre. Border closures to most nationalities are in force and the rail borders between Mongolia and Russia and Mongolia and China are still closed to non-freight. Why would Mongolia risk its great record? And try to get a flight in or out of Vladivostok! Keep dreaming and planning, but otherwise stay local to where you live.

For a summary of how some internal media see the tourism situation here is a summary from RBTH.

Who can enter Russia
At the time of writing, Russia has opened its borders for citizens of the following countries:
• Abkhazia
• Belarus
• Great Britain
• Tanzania
• Turkey
Citizens of these countries can freely enter and leave Russia subject to visa regulations. That is, citizens of the UK, Tanzania and Turkey need to obtain a visa prior to arrival in Russia. As for Abkhazia and Belarus, Russia has a visa-free regime with these countries.

Additionally, on August 2, 2020 Russia opened its borders for Swiss nationals, but international flights to and from Switzerland will only resume on August 15. Flights will be operated once a week on the Moscow-Geneva-Moscow route.

• Nationals of other states can also enter Russia if they:
• are family members of Russian citizens (family members include spouses, parents, children, carers and guardians). Grandparents and siblings are not included on the list. When applying for a visa, you will need to provide documents showing proof of kinship;
have permanent residency in the Russian Federation. A temporary Russian residence permit is not accepted;
• are travelling to attend the funeral of a close relative. To enter the country, they will need to provide the death certificate and documents showing proof of kinship;
• are travelling to look after close relatives. To enter the country, they will need medical certificates and documents showing proof of kinship;
• are travelling to Russia for medical treatment. To enter the country, they will need to provide a certificate issued by a Russian state-run or private clinic. The document must state the date of the medical appointment, the patient’s full name, the name of the procedure and also the particulars and stamp of the medical organization.
• There are several categories of foreign nationals to whom Russia has not prohibited entry. They include:
• Diplomats;
• Employees of consular establishments in the Russian Federation;
• Truck drivers delivering goods to Russia;
• Members of official delegations and persons who hold official visas;
• Aircraft crews, sea and river vessel crews and train and locomotive crews of international railway services.
In all other cases, crossing the border of the Russian Federation will be regarded as illegal. People violating this law can be fined up to 200,000 rubles (approx. $2,668) or face compulsory labor or imprisonment for up to two years.

No travel without a certificate
On July 27, 2020, Anna Popova, the head of the Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Welfare (Rospotrebnadzor), signed an instruction under which all foreigners coming to Russia must, on boarding their flight, have a certificate confirming they have tested negative for Covid-19.
The certificate must be issued no more than three days prior to arrival in Russia and the document can be printed in either Russian or English.
There is no longer a mandatory two-week period of self-isolation on arrival in Russia – Popova lifted that requirement from July 15, 2020.

Traveling out of Russia

The following categories of citizens can also travel out of the country:
• Persons with dual nationality;
• Persons with permanent residency in another country;
• Citizens in possession of a work visa or a visa issued for medical treatment in another country.
Resumption of air travel and flight cancellations
Despite the lifting of restrictions on travel to and from Russia, Russian passenger airlines have started to experience problems with international flights. From early June, the Russian flagship carrier Aeroflot was selling tickets for flights from Moscow to dozens of cities, including Frankfurt am Main, Paris, London, New York, Rome, Seoul and Tel Aviv.
Another large airline, S7, is also operating flights from Moscow to Alicante and Nice, and promised to resume flights to Turkey from August 10.
Aeroflot was suspected of illegally selling tickets to countries with which air links remain restricted. This was point out by the Federal Antimonopoly Service. As a result, on August 6, 2020, Aeroflot announced the cancellation of practically all of its international flights. A full list of cities to which the airline will not be operating flights up until August 31 has been published on the air carrier’s website.

According to the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency’s (Rosaviatsiya) website, the majority of Russian airlines are primarily planning to resume flights to Turkey, which is a popular summer vacation destination among Russians.

Russian Railways in fighting COVID-19 pandemic