Last Updated on November 24, 2023 by Irena Domingo
Registration is the process by which the Russian authorities are informed of the place where a foreign citizen will be staying. In the case that you are a tourist or traveling to Russia for business or studies, you don’t need to worry because you don’t have to address any organization to notify your registration or waste your time. It’s the inviting party that should take care of the entire registration procedure. I’ll explain it in detail below.
I'm going to talk about ...
- Foreigners’ Obligations under the New Regulations
- 1. What is immigration registration in Russia?
- 2. Who Should Perform Immigration Registration?
- 3. What is the deadline for registration in Russia?
- 4. Who is not obliged to register?
- 5. How much does registration cost in Russia?
- 6. What does the registration procedure involve, and what documents are needed?
- 7. Where is the registration of a foreign citizen notified?
- 8. What happens if the inviting party doesn’t register you?
- 9. Can I check if I’ve been registered?
- 10. In conclusion
Foreigners’ Obligations under the New Regulations
Until recently, the regulations governing immigration registration in Russia were not very clear, and everyone interpreted them in their own way.
I suppose this is why there are still many articles on the internet that talk about the obligation of tourists to register and how failing to do so could lead to hefty fines, a ban on entering Russia for up to 5 years, or even deportation to Siberia to live in an ice cave and eat snow.
Jokes aside, none of this is true. The obligation to register lies with the inviting party (hotel, guesthouse, tourist accommodation, etc.). The tourist doesn’t need to waste time doing any registration; they’ve already gone through enough getting their visa processed.
Since 2020, there’s been a new regulation amending the existing legislation, clarifying many points that previously led to various interpretations. The legislation presents two possibilities:
- Registration of foreigners visiting Russia for tourism, business, studies, or visiting friends or relatives (and who do not have a residence permit). In this case, it’s the inviting party’s obligation to register.
- Registration of foreigners with temporary or permanent residence in Russia who must register at their place of residence. In this case, the foreigner must register if they own property in Russia or if they will reside in someone else’s property with the owner’s consent. There’s an electronic procedure enabled by the Russian government for requesting registration, which costs 350 rubles and must be done within 7 business days.
This article focuses on the first case, i.e., foreigners traveling for tourism, business, studies, or to visit friends or family.
1. What is immigration registration in Russia?
Registration is essentially the process by which you inform the Russian authorities, upon your arrival in Russia, about the place where you will be staying.
It’s an informative registration for the responsible immigration authorities of the Russian Federation, with, among others, the following objectives:
- Develop and implement State policy in the migration sphere.
- Have updated information on the movements of foreigners in the Russian Federation and conduct state statistical monitoring in the migration sphere.
- Contribute to the economic development of the territories of the Russian Federation.
- For crisis management such as the Covid-19 pandemic.
- To combat illegal immigration.
The objectives I just mentioned aren’t made up; they are some reflected in the regulations governing immigration registration:
- Federal Law 109 of July 18, 2006, which has undergone many amendments, the latest in 2023, regulating immigration registration in the Russian Federation.
- Decree 9 of January 15, 2007, which details the procedure for registering foreign citizens.
- Order 856 of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia dated December 10, 2020, approving the administrative regulations for immigration registration, including all the official forms used in the procedure.
2. Who Should Perform Immigration Registration?
The regulations state that the registration must be done by the inviting party, which can be:
- A citizen of the Russian Federation
- A foreigner with a residence permit in Russia
- A legal entity in Russia.
In other words:
- If you travel for tourism, the hotel, guesthouse, or tourist accommodation (including health resorts, spas, etc.) must register you. It doesn’t matter if you included one hotel in your invitation letter and ended up staying in another since any hotel is obliged to carry out the registration.
- If you travel for business, the Russian company inviting you should register you.
- If you travel for studies, the Russian educational institution where you study must register you.
- If your trip is for private reasons to visit friends or family in Russia, then your friends or family should register you.
3. What is the deadline for registration in Russia?
The registration deadline depends on the nationality of the foreigner.
For foreign citizens from the vast majority of countries, there’s a 7-business-day period from the day of arrival at the place of stay to register, except for hotels, guesthouses, camps, sanatoriums, or other licensed tourist accommodations, where the registration notification must be made within 1 business day. In this case, the hotel or tourist accommodation usually does it electronically.
However, for citizens of some “friendly” countries to Russia, the registration period is longer and can extend up to 30 business days. This applies to citizens of the Eurasian Union countries: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.
4. Who is not obliged to register?
The regulations establish some exceptions to the registration obligation.
It is not mandatory to register in the following cases:
- Foreign citizens staying in Russia for a period not exceeding 7 business days, except those staying in hotels or other licensed tourist accommodations, where the registration notification must be made within 1 business day. The 7-business-day period starts from the day following the foreigner’s arrival. This count of business days excludes weekends (Saturdays and Sundays) and holidays in Russia. For example, if you arrive in Russia on a Saturday with a private visa to visit a friend or family member and leave the following Tuesday, your friend or family member in Russia won’t need to register you since you will have been in Russia for a period not exceeding 7 business days.
- Heads of State or Government of foreign countries, as well as members of parliamentary delegations or international organizations invited by the Russian Government, and their family members.
- Crew members of ships, aircraft, trains, or other international transport vehicles, under certain conditions detailed by law.
5. How much does registration cost in Russia?
Registration is free for trips for tourism, business, studies, or visiting family or friends. The inviting party cannot charge any amount to the foreigner for this service. Although I must say, I’ve received emails from people traveling to Russia who have turned to companies offering registration services and have been asked for more than $150 to carry out the procedure.
For foreigners traveling to Russia with temporary or permanent residence permits, there’s a small fee of 350 rubles through the electronic procedure enabled on Gosuslugi, the informative website of the Russian Government where multiple electronic administrative procedures can be performed.
6. What does the registration procedure involve, and what documents are needed?
If you’re traveling for tourism, the procedure is as follows:
Step 1: Upon your arrival, the hotel reception or administration will request the following documentation:
- Passport: The hotel will make a copy of the personal information page and, if applicable, the paper visa and entry/exit stamps. If you’re traveling with an electronic visa, they will also make a copy.
- Immigration card: This card is given to you upon entering Russia. If lost, you’ll need to replace it to proceed with the registration.
Please note that the hotel cannot keep your original passport or immigration card; thus, they must make copies of your documents.
Step 2: With your passport and immigration card details, the hotel will fill out the “notification form for the arrival of a foreign citizen to the Russian Federation” and notify the Russian immigration authorities within 1 business day. Russian authorities need to approve the registration, which usually happens quickly (less than 1 day). The tourist accommodation will provide you with the approved registration certificate. Sometimes hotels do not hand this certificate to the client, but you can request it.
Some points I’d like to highlight:
- The form filled out by the hotel is entirely in Russian, making it impossible for a foreign tourist to fill it.
- If you change accommodations, your new hotel will take care of registering you there.
- The police cannot request the registration certificate from you on the street.
- Upon exiting Russia, you only need to present your passport and visa. The registration certificate is not required.
7. Where is the registration of a foreign citizen notified?
Hotels and tourist accommodations usually notify the Ministry of Interior electronically, but it can also be done in person at municipal public services, Ministry of Interior offices, or through any post office.
8. What happens if the inviting party doesn’t register you?
Sometimes, the inviting party may not proceed with the registration. This might occur in apartments without a tourist license. There’s no problem. The responsibility lies with the inviting company, which might face a fine (ranging from 2,000 to 5,000 rubles), not the tourist.
In any case, I recommend booking accommodation with a tourist license. On major Russian accommodation booking platforms like Ostrovok, hotels and apartments with a tourist license are advertised, so they typically handle the registration without issues.
9. Can I check if I’ve been registered?
If the inviting party hasn’t provided you with the registration certificate, you can request it. As far as I know, the Russian government hasn’t set up any electronic procedure for foreign citizens to check it themselves.
10. In conclusion
If you’re traveling to Russia for tourism or business, forget about the registration. Just follow the instructions of the inviting party regarding the documentation required (passport, visa, and immigration card), and most importantly, enjoy your trip 🙂
I hope this article has provided you with a better understanding of how the registration procedure works in Russia. Below, you can share your experience.