All foreigners entering Russia must fill out a two-part migration card upon arrival. You will leave one part of the card with immigration authorities at the port of entry, and keep the other part for the duration of your stay. When you leave, you must submit the card to immigration authorities. Note that the departure date you write on your migration card is binding. You must leave on that date or earlier. If your travel plans are not firm, you should enter the last day of your visa’s validity.
Migration cards are available at the port of entry and are distributed to passengers on incoming flights. Replacing a lost or stolen migration card is extremely difficult, and can only be done through the sponsor listed on the visa. While authorities will not prevent you from leaving the country if you cannot present your migration cards, you could experience problems when trying to re-enter Russia at a future date.
In addition to the migration card, any foreigner spending more than three days in Russia must register their place of residence within three business days (the day of arrival counts, regardless of what time you arrive) with the local Federal Migration Service Office. This registration must be facilitated by a Russian organization, or a Russian citizen or permanent resident. For the vast majority of visitors to Russia this means their registration will be taken care of by their employer or the place they are studying/visiting.
If you move, for example, from temporary hotel accommodations to an apartment, or even take a brief trip out of town (to a destination listed on your visa application), you must change your registration. This applies whether or not you maintain your principal residence in Russia while traveling – if you spend more than three days in one location in Russia, you must be registered there. If you spend less than three days in one place, you may still want to register, or, if not, at least keep copies of tickets, hotel bills, or itineraries in order to prove compliance with the law.
If you stay in a hotel, the hotel will process your registration for you and provide you with registration papers the following day. If you are employed or studying the organization which invited you should register you. Registration requires a detailed registration form and photocopies of your passport, including the main photo page and the visa, your migration card, and the apartment owner’s passport, including main photo page and their registration stamp at that address. The necessary documents can be submitted at any local post office. The fee for registration is about 200 RUR. The post office will provide you with two stamped registration slips; one for your employer and one for you.
If you do not register in time, the organization registering you will face fines, and you will need to register your residence in person at the local Federal Migration Service Office.
After you leave a place of residence (even if only temporarily), your registration papers must be mailed back to the Federal Migration Service to notify them that you have left. If you stay in a hotel, this will happen automatically. If you’re staying in a private apartment, you should verify that your landlord has done so to avoid potential problems re-entering Russia at a later time.
You should carry your original passport (with visa), work permits (if applicable), migration card, and registration with you at all times. These documents may all be required for common activities, and may also be requested by police. Russian police officers have the authority to stop people and request their identity and travel documents at any time, and without cause. You should always be prepared to present them and although you are advised never to surrender your documents in practice you may not have a choice.
Federal Migration Service of the Russian Federation
V. Radishhevskaya St. 4-1
Tel: (495) 698 00 78
You can call the central office to find out the address and phone number of your local office. (Have your address handy.) Registration issues must generally be settled at your local division.
In general, you can expect best results in person, but a phone call to confirm reception hours is advisable. Appointments are not available, and you should be prepared to queue for a while to see FMS staff. Do not attempt to resolve registration issues on your own; you must be accompanied by the owner of your residence or an authorized representative. If this person is unavailable, bring a trusted native speaker of Russian with you, but be prepared to come back at a later time with your landlord.