Travelling to Russia in 2022 – Important Update
This article summarises important points to consider when travelling to Russia in 2022, in times of conflict, closed airspace and sanctions. As the situation can change quickly, it is always a good idea to check back with our booking department ([email protected]) for latest updates.
Entry restrictions and Russian visa
All COVID-related entry restrictions to Russia have been lifted. All Russian visa types are issued (check here if you need a visa) and all means of transport (air, sea, land) are allowed to enter Russia. No PCR test is required to clear the border. Vaccinations are not checked. Consult our visa page for more information on the Russian visa.
All countries that issued sanctions against Russia have closed their airspace and vice versa. The only airlines that still serve Russian destinations are Turkish, Serbian, Emirates, Qatar and a few others.
So how best to travel to Russia?
By air: Turkish Airlines offers the best connections but return fares are between EUR 1000 and 1500. Much cheaper are the two popular land borders to Finland and Estonia, both pretty close to St. Petersburg from where you can easily travel to other parts of Russia by plane or train.
Land border by bus: fly either to Helsinki, Riga or Tallinn. In Helsinki you can catch a bus to St. Petersburg directly from the airport. In Tallinn and Riga you need to transfer first to the bus terminal in the city. The trip to St. Petersburg can last anything from 7 to 12 hours, depending on the route. As long as you have not booked any onward travel on that day, just relax and enjoy the overland journey.
Land border by foot: if you travel to Russia from the Estonian border town Narva, you can also cross the border by foot. The Estonian and Russian checkpoints are only separated by the river Narva, so walking over will take you only about 15 minutes. This is the quickest way to enter Russia, as you don’t have to wait for the rest of the people on a bus. The onward journey to St. Petersburg lasts about 2 hours and can be done by taxi or local bus. Liden & Denz will help you to organise this individually or for your group.
Passport and custom controls when entering Russia
The atmosphere is relaxed on both sides of the border. Russian customs will screen your luggage. You might have to show cash currency you brought with you and you might be asked about the purpose of your travel. Very rarely border officials ask you to show your mobile phone. Why is that?
Social media censorship while travelling to Russia in 2022
Recent new regulations limit the use of social media. Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin are banned in Russia. You are allowed to use WhatsApp, Telegramm and VK. Any social media posts critical of Russian politics and the military campaign are likely to get you into serious trouble. Please also temporarily disable any news apps with content that can be interpreted as critical of Russia.
In the unlikely event you come across an anti-government demonstration, don’t take any pictures, turn around and walk away. Keep at least a copy of your passport/visa with you at all times. Apart from that, the streets are very safe and despite the geopolitical tensions, you don’t need to fear negative comments, even if your home country participates in Russian sanctions. Just do not enter in any public debates.
Online services and VPN
Quite a few online services are not available any longer in Russia and vice-versa Russian online services are blocked when accessed from outside Russia. It is therefore a good idea to set up VPN services to access Western sites while in Russia and for Russian sites (in case you need them) while still at home. Which services are blocked seems arbitrary and is hard to predict. The use of a VPN service inside Russia is legal.
Local SIM card
With your passport you can easily buy a local Russian SIM card. Some companies offer pre-paid cards. Roaming packages for Russia are still available but expensive, so you are better off with a local SIM card. You will need your Russian mobile number to set up apps for taxi, food delivery, local banking and many other online services.
Money and credit cards
Russians use debit or credit cards widely but please be aware that only cards issued in Russia work under current sanctions. For you this means that you should take cash USD or EUR with you to Russia (no need to declare cash below the equivalent of USD 10000). If you stay longer than a few weeks, it makes sense to open a non-resident bank account, deposit your money there and get a local Russian debit card.
Travel and health insurance
Your travel insurance might not be valid in Russia. Medical services inside Russia work as usual, but again be aware that your non-Russian debit and credit cards will not work if you need to go to the doctor.
There is no shortage of food, restaurants and bars are full till late. Domestic travel by metro, train and air transport works smoothly, as usual.
We are here to help
Contact us at [email protected] for updated information and use our normal emergency numbers if are stuck at the border.
Check travel warnings of your government authority about travelling to Russia in 2022.