FACTS AND THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT RUSSIA
Country’s Full Name – The Russian Federation
Capital - Moscow
Total Area - 17,075,200.00 sq. km
Population - 144 mln people (as of 2014)
Native (State) Language - Russian
Religions - Russian Orthodox, Muslim, others
Government Type – The Federation
Currency - 1 rouble (R) = 100 kopeks
Non-Russian citizens, upon arrival in Russia, will be expected to fill in two copies of the migration card. Passport control officers will tear off one half of the migration card and leave you with the other half, and it should be stamped. Keep track of this card as you will need it to register your visa and for your departure from Russia. CUSTOMS RULES AND RESTRICTIONS ON ARRIVAL IN RUSSIA
When entering Russia, one should fill in the customs declaration (to be kept until leaving Russia) mentioning the imported sums of foreign currencies as well as list of antiques, works of art, and musical instruments imported.
When leaving the country, one should fill in the customs declaration if exporting from Russia foreign currency amounts exceeding USD 3,000.
It is not allowed to export from Russia any items of cultural value, including pieces of art produced more than 100 years ago, and items of special cultural importance irrelevant to the date of manufacturing (the authorized certificate should be presented to this). While souvenirs and cultural items of mass production need no permission to be taken out of Russia.
Everywhere in Russia 220 Volt and 50 Hz AC current supplies are used. Most of the sockets are of the standard European-size for double round-pin plugs, the same as in France or Germany. Appliances from the US, Canada, Britain will need adaptors (it is better to bring them with you, as it is rather hard to find them in Russia).
It's better to have some cash (USD200-400 is enough for initial expenses - transport, accommodation, food) when you come to Russia and have the rest on your credit card. If you are going to small towns, on cruises, tours or to the countryside, it is better to take cash only, because you might have problems withdrawing cash from the cards or travelers' cheques.
To call anybody within the city, dial + 7 495 or + 7 499 (landline) and then the number of the telephone subscriber.
To make a long-distance phone call (landline), first dial «8»; then dial «10»; dial the code of the country, the code of the city and the number.
If you urgently need a medical assistance, you are to dial the “03” (landline) phone number (24 hours a day). Any medical institution must help you or call for the ambulance with a medical team fit in your case. When delivered to a hospital, you have to show your medical insurance policy.
You can call a taxi from your hotel or a restaurant. There are taxi stops around the city centre. You can also use different mobile applications, e.g. Yandex Taxi.
Tipping is expected at restaurants. Tip 10-15% depending on service.
The public transportation system in main Russian cities is quite extensive. Public transport is rather pretty cheap, and you can get around by metro (subway), bus, tram and taxi. Getting around Russian cities buying a good dual-language map is essential, since not all the street names and metro signs are posted in Latin. The most popular and convenient method of travel is metro. Tickets are very cheap and are purchased in metro stations.
Contemporary Russian cuisine is truly delicious and healthy because it mostly relies on naturally grown ingredients. It is also very filling because dishes contain vegetable oil, sour cream and mayo. Russian national cuisine uses lots of grains and roots, vegetables and lots of fish, mushrooms and berries. Also soup is a must during lunch. Aside from alcoholic beverages and vodka many Russians drink tea, coffee, and a variety of juice. Also very popular is a beverage called Kvas, a drink made from fermented bread.
Time and Open hours
The Time in the European part of Russia is 3 hours ahead Greenwich meridian time or two hours the central European part. (+3 GMT or +2 CET).
Weights, Measures, Numbers
The Russian system of weights and measures is similar to the one used in Continental Europe: Russians use kilometers, meters and centimeters to measure the length, and kilograms and liters to measure the weight.
The Celsius temperature scale is used in Russia. 0 degrees Celsius equals 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
Russian souvenirs reflect the national character and soul of Russian people. Lively, carved and painted figurines, nesting dolls, birch boxes and accessories, Gzhel and Majolica Ceramics, Mstera, Kholuy, Palekh and Fedoskino wooden boxes, tin soldiers, clocks, wooden figures are to everyone's liking. These examples of Great Russian culture will decorate your house and bring you back memories of Russia.
Season for travelling
You can visit Russia in every season of the year. April through to October is considered by many to be the best time to visit; from June till September are the busiest tourist months. The coldest months are January and February with an average temperature of 9’C below 0. The first snow falls at the end of October and remains until the beginning of April. In summer the average temperature is about 20’C degrees, with much warmer temperatures in July and August.
CUSTOMS RULES AND RESTRICTIONS ON ARRIVAL IN RUSSIA
You go through customs at an airport after you have collected your baggage and while passing through “green” or “red” channels. When crossing the Russian border by train or car, you pass through customs. You should pay attention to the color signs (green and red arrows or signs). Passing through the green channel is equivalent to stating that you have nothing to declare, so if you accidentally take the green channel and items to be declared are found in your baggage during a random check, it will be categorized as a proven administrative violation for which you will face severe penalties.
THE FOLLOWING ITEMS ARE SUBJECT TO MANDATORY DECLARATION ON ARRIVAL:
Imported by air transport, customs value of which exceeds the equivalent of 10,000 euros and a total weight exceeding 50 kilograms;
Imported by other transport, customs value of which exceeds the equivalent of EUR 1,500 and the total weight of which exceeds 50 kilograms.
Additional information for point 6. Foreign nationals may temporarily import without paying customs duties the items they need for personal use in the Russian Federation throughout the period of their temporary stay (excluding vehicles). Only those temporarily imported goods that have been declared can be re-exported without paying duties. If you fail to re-export the goods declared on arrival in the country, duties will be levied on them that can amount to 30% of the cost of an item. The full list of Russian customs restrictions can be found on the website of the Customs Service of Russia: eng.customs.ru/index.php
CUSTOMS RESTRICTIONS ON DEPARTURE FROM RUSSIA
You go through customs at an airport after you have checked in for your flight and handed in your luggage and before passing through passport control (the “green” or “red” channel). When crossing the border by train or car you go through customs on the border.
THE FOLLOWING ITEMS ARE SUBJECT TO MANDATORY DECLARATION ON DEPARTURE:
In particular, an export permit is required to export icons, paintings (even if they were painted a day before by amateur artist), carpets, and non-electric samovars. Most galleries will assist you in obtaining this permit if you make a purchase. You can also apply for an export permit on your own to the Department of Conservation of Cultural Heritage of the Russian Ministry of Culture or an intermediary agency. Please note that the Ministry of Culture is not obligated to issue such a permit. You will be refused an export permit for objects of over 100 years old as their export is prohibited by law.
The full list of customs restrictions can be found on the website of the Customs Service of Russia: eng.customs.ru/index.php
NB!!!! If your tour starts not in Russia and you arrive to Russia after visiting another country( f.e. Finland or any other neighbour country) and if your luggage was lost upon arrival to this country and was not found until you reach Russia you are obliged to fill in customs declaration when crossing the Russian border in which you have to fix that your luggage was lost and still not found. Otherwise when your luggage will be delivered to Russia you'll have to pay for customs clearance (4 euros per each kilo).