Do I need a
visa to go to Russia?
Yes, almost all foreigners must have entry visa to visit Russia.
I get Russian visa?
To apply for visa you need an invitation from a Russian company or from a Russian citizen. These invitations have strict rules to write and register but then they may be sent to you
by fax. As soon as you have an invitation you can apply for Russian visa in the Consulate. It takes up to 2 weeks (ordinary way) but if you pay more you can have it in a few hours (express way).
What is OVIR registration? Is it possible not to
OVIR registration is a must. They put a stamp on your visa. Generally hotel provides
registration, you just leave your passport and visa at the reception desk for a
night. You must
register at every place you visit. If you are in Moscow for some days - you must register
there, if you go to St.Petersburg then - you must register in St.Petersburg etc. This is a
rule. If you
have a private invitation an inviting person must register you.
Note: OVIR registration requires a fee. Officially OVIR registration is less than US$5 per person but in some regions there are local rules and
add-ons. For example in Elbrus area official cost
was US$15 - (when the official were asked about it they say that actually there are two fees - OVIR fee itself and fee for visiting Elbrus region
avoid the registration?
You need at least 1 registration, to be sure that you will leave Russia without problems. It is possible not to register in every region but if a policeman stops you to check your
papers you may have a problem and may be fined if you have no registration in that region. Last season (summer 2000) almost every person was checked for OVIR registration at
Mineralnye Vody airport
(police post at the entrance to the departure hall). Penalty depends of an officer, if he lets the process go official way or not. Minimal official penalty is about US$ 25.
Anyway it will be not pleasant and rather long procedure at a police office.
I have Russian visa with
"Moscow" only because my invitation was from a Moscow company. Can I go to the
Yes, you can. Since 1999 year if you have a visa you can go everywhere except military and border zones. No other cities must be mentioned in your visa.
What is the border guard permission
Officially you must have a border zone registration just to go to Elbrus region, irrespective of climbing Elbrus or other mountains, as Elbrus region considered to be a border zone (border with
Georgia). No problems with this registration. You need just a list of people with names, passport details, dates of birth. Registration is a signature of an officer on this list plus a small notice
How can I get border guard permission to visit border
You or those people who invite you have to go to the nearest Border Guard office with the list of people going to go to that zone. However they can forbid you to go without any explanations (but
did not do it yet, as far as I know). In Elbrus region border guard office is in
Can I go without border permission?
It is possible to go without permission but if a border guard officer stops you to check your papers you will be taken to the border guard office and
fined. Risk to meet an officer is not high
My friends visited Caucasus without any registration and everything was
ok. Why should I do this fancy work?
That is just a a law. You can obey a law or violate it. To present day it was not controlled thoroughly, but the conditions may change for the worse at any time. Even in a week.
Are any climbing permits necessary?
No, no papers for climbing. However you can register in a local rescue service (it's free) to raise your safety in case of emergency.
Does police check the
This season 2000 local police started to check registrations thoroughly. To be protected from any problems with authorities you must
- OVIR registration. (this is a registration must be made in every region you stay more then some
days). This registration is a stamp on your visa.
- Border guard (border zone) registration. Elbrus region is a border
zone. This registration is a page where all the group member names are mentioned along with the guide
name. If you have a
guide he must be mentioned too.
That is really necessary especially OVIR registration. I just have returned from the Caucasus
(June 28, 2000) and our group was checked for the registration 3 times during our drive back to Mineral
Last season (summer 2000) almost every person was checked for OVIR registration at Mineralnie Vody airport
(police post at the entrance to the departure hall). Penalties depend of an
officer, if he
let the process go official way or not. Minimal official penalty is about US$ 25.
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