While visiting Russia there are safety precautions that need to be taken. Safety is a large concern when visiting any foreign country.  Obeying a few simple and basic rules as you travel will insure you a fantastic and memorable experience while in Russia.

The Seasons:

Russia's climate is predominantly continental, though European Russia is more maritime-continental under the influence of the Atlantic Ocean, the Baltic Sea, and the Black Sea. The main thing to remember is that Russia is BIG; consequently its climate ranges from steppes in the south through humid continental in much of European Russia; subarctic in Siberia to tundra climate in the polar north; and its winters vary from cool along Black Sea coast to frigid in Siberia, while summers vary from warm in the steppes to cool along Arctic coast. In effect there are only two seasons, winter and summer; spring and autumn are brief periods of rapid change from one extreme to the other.

Electricity:

Electricity throughout Russia is 220 volt/50 Hz. The plug is the two-pin thin European standard.  Be sure to bring your own converter as most places in Russia do not carry them.

Taxes:

There is no sales tax. However, in most cases, VAT (Value Added Tax) is 18%. There are reduced rates of VAT of 10% that refers mainly to children's products and food products.

Tipping:

Depending on the service, 10-15% percent is a customary tip in restaurants. 

Tourism:

The largest country in the world, Russia offers a broad array of travel experiences, from treks up the slopes of glacier-capped mountains to strolls along the shoreline of Earth’s oldest lake. Historical sites and cultural activities in the country’s great cities abound as well. Whether you’re exploring the grounds of Moscow’s Kremlin or wandering through the steppes of Mongolia, a visit to Russia is an adventure not soon forgotten.

Security:

Due to continued civil and political unrest throughout much of the North Caucasus region of Russia, the Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens against travel to Chechnya and all other areas of the North Caucasus, including North Ossetia, Ingushetia, Dagestan, Stavropol, Karachayevo-Cherkessiya, and Kabardino-Balkariya. The U.S. government's ability to assist U.S. citizens who travel to the North Caucasus region is extremely limited

 Crime:

While visiting Russia, be alert to your surroundings. In large cities, take the same precautions against assault, robbery, or pickpockets that you would take in any large U.S. city: keep wallets in inner front pockets, carry purses tucked securely under arms, wear the shoulder strap of cameras or bags across the chest, walk away from the curb, and carry purses and other bags away from the street. The most vulnerable areas include underground walkways, the subway, overnight trains, train stations, airports, markets, tourist attractions, and restaurants. Foreigner travelers who have been drinking alcohol are especially vulnerable to assault and robbery in or around nightclubs or bars, or on their way home. 

Vaccinations:

No vaccinations are required, however consult with your doctor to make sure you are up-to-date on routine vaccines before every trip and consider including vaccinations for diphtheria, typhoid, and hepatitis A and B.  

Money:

Forget about travelers' cheques and bring enough cash to last you for a few days, as occasionally communications networks handling ATM and credit card transactions are not available.  Russian law forbids payments not in rubles. Fortunately, currency exchange offices (called bureaus in Saint Petersburg) are common throughout Russia. Banks and small currency exchange bureaus offer very good rates; hotels are generally expensive and thus not recommended. You need to show your passport at banks. Be sure to take your time to count how much money you got — different ways are sometimes used to trick the customer.

You will have an easier time changing money if your banknotes are absolutely clean, and dollars should be the most recent updated design, as few places will accept the older versions.

ATMs, called bankomats, are common in large cities and can generally be found in smaller cities and towns. Though some may not accept foreign cards. English language interface is available. Some may also dispense US dollars. Russian ATMs will often limit withdrawals to about USD 1,000 per day. Big hotels are good places to find them.

What to Bring:

The FIFA World Cup is being held during Russia’s warm summer months of June and July.  Pack a mixture of lightweight and medium weight clothing – natural fibers such as cotton and linen are best. Sturdy shoes are always a good idea, no matter what time of year.

Taxis:

Official taxis cannot be stopped in the street, but need to be ordered in advance. Prices are not always charged by meter, so need to be agreed when booking or before setting off. Most drivers don’t speak much English, so it can be worthwhile asking a Russian speaker to order a taxi and to write the destination address in Russian.

Public Transportation:

Russia is an immense country and there are many ways to get around. In cities such as Moscow and St Petersburg, the comprehensive public transport facilities include world-class metro systems. Even in smaller urban areas and rural areas, there are good train and bus services.

For travelling between cities, the rail network is well developed and gives a true feeling for the country. Air travel provides the quickest way for the longest domestic journeys, as well as being the most common way to arrive in Russia.

Theft:

While visiting Russia, be alert to your surroundings. In large cities, take the same precautions against assault, robbery, or pickpockets that you would take in any large U.S. city: keep wallets in inner front pockets, carry purses tucked securely under arms, wear the shoulder strap of cameras or bags across the chest, walk away from the curb, and carry purses and other bags away from the street. The most vulnerable areas include underground walkways, the subway, overnight trains, train stations, airports, markets, tourist attractions, and restaurants. Foreigner travelers who have been drinking alcohol are especially vulnerable to assault and robbery in or around nightclubs or bars, or on their way home.

Embassies in Russia:

In case of a stolen passport, report immediately to the local police and contact the nearest U.S. consulate or Embassy.

U.S. Embassy Moscow

Bolshoy Deviatinsky Pereulok No. 8
(Consular Section located at Novinskiy Bulvar 21)
Moscow 121099, Russian Federation

Telephone: +(7) (495) 728-5000 or +(7) (495) 728-5577

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(7) (495) 728-5000

Fax: +(7) (495) 728-5084

moscowwarden@state.gov

CONSULATES

U.S. Consulate General St. Petersburg
15 Ulitsa Furshtadtskaya,
St. Petersburg 191028
Russian Federation

Telephone: +(7) (812) 331-2600

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(7) (812) 331-2600

Fax: +(7) (812) 331-2646

StPetersburgACS@state.gov

U.S. Consulate General Vladivostok

32 Ulitsa Pushkinskaya,
Vladivostok 690001
Russian Federation

Telephone: +(7) (4232) 300-070

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(7) (4232) 710-067

Fax: +(7) (4232) 300-091

vladcons@state.gov

U.S. Consulate General Yekaterinburg
Ulitsa Gogolya 15a,
4th floor, Yekaterinburg 620151
Russian Federation

Telephone: +(7) (343) 379-3001

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(7) 89-02-84-16-653

Fax: +(7) (343) 379-4515

consulyekat@state.gov

U.S. Consular Agent - Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk

Lada Hotel Suite 203
154 Komsomolskaya Street
Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia

Telephone: +(7) (4242) 42-49-17

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(7) (4232) 71-00-67