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Banking and money as a foreigner in Russia

Banking and money as a foreigner in Russia
21 July 2022

Foreigners in Russia can always get a bank account (such as at Sberbank or Tinkoff), which is fast and can be used right away. The challenge today is transfer money to this account so you can pay for things in Russia, as most foreign cards do not work. Due to current restrictions on cross border banking, however, it is harder to do this than before. However, it is very much legal and possible. Here is a guide to banking and money as a foreigner in Russia:

Acquaintances 

As any Russian will tell you, knowing the right people in Russia is very important. Here it is the same. Having a local who can help you with financial issues is easiest, as you do not have to pay for any services. Not everyone can do this, but this is a reminder that one should first and foremost look for help from those you know.

KoronaPay

Banking restrictions apply to some, not all. Companies that wish to can continue to take cross border transactions. KoronaPay is a service, similar to Wise or Western Union, available in European and post-Soviet states. For several months after February 2022, users continue to use the service, which at the moment is still up and running. You can use this service to transfer money from a European bank account to a Russian one, for example. The downside is that there is a limit of transactions of up to around 1000 EUR per month (rules may vary for different countries).  

Bank of China 

Chinese banks are not under sanctions, so it is possible to open a bank account at the Bank of China in Moscow. Foreigners need a notarised translation of their passport for this. You can then get a Chinese bank account, and can transfer money from a European bank to this Chinese bank. Your Chinese credit card will work in Russia, as no sanctions are in place. The downside is that you will pay commission for exchanging currencies twice, as you will use the Chinese yuan as an intermediary.

Cash withdrawal abroad

Those living in Saint Petersburg or Russian border regions can go on a short trip abroad. You can withdraw money where it is allowed, before carrying it back into Russia. Assuming no visa issues relating to your passport, this is also a workable solution. The downside is that it may take time to travel back and forth this way, especially if you do not live near the border with another country.

Your Embassy

Most Embassies have a Consular section to help their citizens who have problems and need help while in a foreign country. In this case, you should contact your Embassy as they can for example assist you with an emergency loan or other practical help. Different Embassies will have different policies on this matter, so ask them in advance to see what can they do for you.

For other practical information on traveling to Russia in 2022, see here.

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