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Russia and visa registration

Travel Forums Europe Russia and visa registration

Last Post This thread is marked as being about Russia
1. Posted by aharrold45 (Travel Guru 1281 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Later in the year, if I get issued this Russian visa, I'll be going for a quick trip to Russia. I will be going to both Moscow and St Petersburg. The regulations require you to pre-book accommodation and then register your visa within 72 hours. I have had the idea to try and homestay using the hospitality club or Couch Surfing website whilst there seeing accommodation is rediculously expensive for the most part in Moscow and St Petersburg. Can anyone tell me from your experience, how you are able to do a homestay of some nature while in Russia with the strict regulations they have with the pre-booking of accommodation to put on the visa support letter?

Is there any place in Moscow and St Petersburg which will register me for the whole time I am in Moscow and St Petersburg, so that then I would be able to do a home stay somewhere? Then the messed up Russian Government, would see I was staying at ...... place when I was really actually staying at a persons house.

If a lot of hotels or hostels will actually register you despite the fact you didn't get the visa support through them, does this visa support crap mean that when you go to a certain hotels or hostels, for the fee they charge they phone up and register you. But when they call up they say you are staying at whatever the hotel/hostel's name is on the visa support form and they don't say you are staying at the place you really are staying at?

Thanks in advance for any help you can give.

2. Posted by Odysseas (Full Member 1359 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

I got my visa with a fake booking from a corrupted agency.In russia then,I only spent one night in a big hotel to get my registration.
So the fact is,if you manage to get your visa,then once you got into Russia you only have to register once,it has no importance if it is in the hotel you booked or not.
The registration is just a stamp in your passport that confirm you are allowed to stay in Russia during the dates indicated on your visa.From then on u are free to go wherever u want.
Good trip! ;)

3. Posted by coldwarspy (Travel Guru 1108 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

yeah same with me. I didnt bother makin this registration and had to go to some dodgy agency that charged me 50 US to stamp my visa! and it took me about 3 hours to find the joint as its not exactly marked on the street ;)

so arrange a hotel/hostel for first night and get them to stamp u. it will save so much hassle and money.

4. Posted by Peter (Admin 6418 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Last time I went to Russia, both the hotel in Moscow and St Petersburg took care of registration. My understanding was that it needed to be done for every city you visited. I believe it is possible to do it yourself as well, rather than get a hotel to do it.

The invitation needed to gain the visa in the first place is a seperate thing. It doesn't actually need to come from a hotel as is popularly believed. Any company that is correctly registered in Russia can do this kind of thing. Hence the various websites which offer them for sale. They are perfectly legit. Sounds like you're already past that part though.

I would suggest that when you arrive in each city you either a) check into a hotel/hostel for one night to get the registration taken care of or b) ask your couchsurfing / hospitality club person if they will go with you to take care of registration. Though personally, I could live without deealing with Russian beaurocracy and would go for the hotel option!

Make sure it is done in every city though - you don't want to give corrupt police officers any reason to extort you. Oh, and always carry a photo copy of your passport page with registration. If a police asks for your passport, give them the photocopy. And if you can, carry the phone number of your embassy (and a working phone) with you in case they start being difficult.

And no, it is a myth that you need to book everything in advance!

5. Posted by Odysseas (Full Member 1359 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

C'mon Pete,russian ppolice is not that awful.

Have u never been to Kazakhstan?Russian police is a nursery in front of that...

6. Posted by Peter (Admin 6418 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

I'm not speaking from personal experience in these matters thankfully. I've heard it around the place from enough sources that I trust. Greg, one of our members had a story about police harassment in Russia and pretty much recommened the same; that you should never hand over your passport to them. And I've heard of enough people who were saved a great deal of trouble by simply threatening to call the embassy.

I was in a taxi in St.P once when he ran a red light and was then pulled over by a cop. The taxi driver basically ended up bribing the police officer to let him go and tried to get us to foot the bill!! If I remember correctly, we simply got out of the cab and caught a different one. So yes, I have no doubt that there is a lot of corruption in the Russian police force. That's not to say Kazakhstan isn't worse :)

7. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

Officially, you have to register everywhere where you stay for more than 72 hours on business days, and if you don't have one, you will have to prove why not (i.e. produce train tickets etc). In practice, you can often get away with holes in your registrations if you leave via Moscow or St. Petes where there is a large foreign turnover. The more obscure and less frequented border, the more likely you are for some overly officious immigration officer causing you big trouble and you paying.

Despite what the official regulations say, nobody (or very few) actually bothers prebooking all of their accomodation. If you get your visa through a hostel/hotel and stay the first night with them, they will register you. Most online agencies etc have offices in major cities (or partners) where you can get your visa registered.

In both Moscow and St.Petes, you do get stopped routinely and have your papers checked. If you look in any way, erm, dodgy (or sadly, black/asian etc), you will stopped more often. Carry a photocopy of your passport page and visa, and if they complain, say its at the hotel. Threatening to phone the embassy (and having the number in your mobile phone) tends to stop most harrasment.

I would suggest that when you arrive in each city you either a) check into a hotel/hostel for one night to get the registration taken care of or b) ask your couchsurfing / hospitality club person if they will go with you to take care of registration.

I would strongly suggest option (a), for everybodies sanity!

CS and HC are fine and easy to use, BUT particularly in Moscow, try and stay somewhere else first to get a stamp on your passport, because trying to get it yourself at the OVIR can be absolutely horrible. You will likley loose at least a day, and the paperwork is a nightmare for both you and your host. It's not quite as bad if you have a business or tourist visa (compared to a personal invite which is the one that technically you should get if you are staying with people - they are a nightmare), but isn't pretty. Last year in Chelyabinsk, it took me 7 days to finally get registered....

Basically, book one night in a hotel/hostel first (especially Moscow - you don't want to have to do it yourself there unless you really want to see Soviet beaurocracy and queuing at it's finest, and checks are quite frequent), get your your stamp (some will register you for longer than your stay if you ask/pay them/offer them a "gift") and then move on to a host. I got my last visa through's British partner (Real Russia?) and they had an office in St. Petes where for a fee i got registered and they didn't ask where I was staying or anything.

All hotels that accept foreigners will register you automatically, (and by law, if they don't and are caught, they are in trouble, not you). Of the few hostels that exist, some say that they can only register if you got your visa through them, although they normally do anyway.

8. Posted by passenger2 (First Time Poster 1 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

if you have a return ticket you may not bother with registration. when you are stopped by militsia you just show them your air tickets to your home country (or to the third country). thats it.

9. Posted by GeoReb (Full Member 4 posts) 12y Star this if you like it!

I'm an American who has been living and working in Moscow for the last three years, and not once have I ever been stopped by the police and had my papers checked. There are quite a few inexpensive traveler's dorms here that will register you when you arrive, but whether or not you can leave anything of value in your room I can not say. The last thing you should do is try and register yourself, it is one big aggravation, waiting in line outside some police station, if your lucky only for an hour, if not all day. There is a web page, or used to be a web page called, "Uncle Sasha's" or something like that which listed a lot of fairly inexpensive places to stay here in Moscow, mainly for students coming here during summer vacation and others on a budget, might be worth looking for on the Internet. Moscow is a city that can be both as expensive as you want or as inexpensive as you want. But I have been here three years and love it here, so much that I got permanent residence here. Most of what you hear about crooked police is a crock, yes there are crooked police here, just like in the US and every where else. The only time I ever was stopped was once I was taking photos around the Kremlin one night using a tripod, I kind of stood out from the tourists and one guard asked to see my professional photographers permit, which I did not have. I told the guard I was not a professional photographer and he let me continue taking photos and did not bother me again. Moscow is a great city, truly one of Europe's best kept secrets