What is an immigration card

Immigration card and customs in Russia

In this article I will explain to you the formalities that have to be completed in Russian airports between leaving the plane and leaving the airport: immigration, baggage collection and customs. You will also find information about the various services offered by Russian airports: money exchange, ATMs, shops, restaurants, etc.

If you arrive in Russia on an international flight, a number of formalities and steps await you at the airport:

  1. The first check you have to pass is this the passport and visa. There you also have to Immigration card (also called “Migration Card” or “Migration Card”).
  2. Once you've passed passport control, you'll need your Pick up luggage (as long as you have not only traveled with hand luggage).
  3. Then it goes through the inch: green gear if you have nothing to declare and red gear if you have something to declare.
  4. After the customs control you will get to the Airport Arrivals Hallin which you multiple facilities and services can be found: money exchange, ATMs, tourist information, shops, restaurants and also the transport service to the city center.

I've traveled to many Russian airports and it's more or less the same process in all of them. In the following I will explain the different areas that await you after leaving the aircraft:


1. Passport control and migration card

As soon as you get off the plane, you will pass it passport control at the immigration counters. There are two queues there: one for Russians and one for foreigners.

The passport control usually takes no more than 15 or 30 minutesas long as not many flights arrive at the same time. If this is the case, which sometimes happens in summer, then you have to expect about an hour or more waiting.

At these counters, a number of immigration officers will thoroughly check your passport to ensure that the information is correct and that there are no tears in your passport.

If you are wearing a hat, sunglasses, or something that covers your face, then you will need to take it off as immigration officers will carefully check that the photo on your passport matches your appearance.

In addition to verifying your passport, immigration officers will fill out one Migration card with your personal data and the dates of entry and exit. It consists of two parts, each with identical information. The customs officer will receive one of the two parts and you will keep the other part. Since the card is the same size as your passport, it is a good idea to keep it in it. Be careful not to lose them, however.

You need the migration card to register at the hotel. You will also have to hand this in when you leave the country.

At Domodedovo and Sheremetyevo Airports in Moscow, customs officers fill out this card in printed form, while at Polkovo Airport in St. Petersburg, customs officers usually fill out this card manually.

In smaller airports, this card is sometimes given by the flight crew shortly before landing and the passengers are asked to enter their details. If you don't get it on the plane, forget to fill it out or don't have a pen with you (and nobody wants to lend you one), you can find additional migration cards and pens at the airport. The migration cards are in Russian and English and are therefore very easy to fill out. Here is an example of a completed immigration card (the model may vary from airport to airport, but the information to be filled in is the same):

You have to fill in these data:

  • Surname: Surname
  • Given name: First name
  • Patronymic: You can leave it blank
  • Date of birth: Date of birth
  • sex: Mark with a cross man (male) or woman (female)
  • Nationality: Nationality
  • Passport: Your passport number
  • Visa number: Number of your visa (indicated on the page of your visa as "Visa ID")
  • Purpose of travel: Reason for your trip (e.g. tourism, business, etc.).
  • Name of host person or company: Name of the agency that issued your letter of invitation (you can find this in the visa and also in the letter of invitation, e.g. Travel Econom, Voyage Expo, HotelsPro, etc.)
  • Duration of stay: Duration of your stay in Russia in day / month / year format
  • Signature: Signature


  • It is necessary to have the card with a blue ballpoint pen in capital letters to be filled out. A field must be used for each letter.
  • The card can of course be in latin letters be filled in and not in Cyrillic.
  • You have to fill in both parts (A and B). The immigration officer will give you Part B with a stamp of the date of your entry into Russia.

2. Collection of luggage

Once you have passed through passport control, you can go to the Baggage claim walk. If passport control was quick, you may have to wait a while for your luggage to arrive on the treadmill, otherwise your luggage will already be waiting for you there.

If your luggage is nowhere to be found, go to the Lost baggage counter. This is usually located directly in the baggage hall.

The chances of losing your luggage in a Russian airport are no greater than in any other airport in the world. If baggage is lost, in most cases it is due to the airline you are traveling with and the connections between flights.

3. Customs Control: Limits and Restrictions

As soon as you have picked up your luggage, it goes through the inch. There are two courses: greenif you have nothing to declare and redwhen you have something to declare.

Usually, most of the tourists who travel to Russia have nothing to declare and thus go through the green aisle. However, in certain cases it is necessary to go through the red corridor and that Customs declaration form (Customs Declaration Form) to be filled out. The customs regulations are relatively complex and anything but brief, but can be summarized as follows:

  • When entering Russia
    • The import of products with a value of less than 10,000 euros is permitted by air (for private individuals), provided that they do not exceed 50 kg and are intended for personal use. If these limit values ​​are exceeded, the products must be declared.
    • You can bring alcoholic beverages and beer in quantities of no more than 3 liters and a maximum of 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250 grams of tobacco. If the limit is exceeded, the products must be declared.
    • There is no limit to the importation of foreign currencies, but if you import more than $ 10,000 into Russia (or the equivalent in other currencies), you must declare this to customs. In these cases you should make sure that the registration form is stamped by a customs officer so that you can prove possession of the money upon departure (unless you have spent everything during your stay).
    • The ban on the import of food from the EU into the Russian Federation does not apply to private individuals. This means that the importation of products of animal origin by private individuals (including sausage products, cheese, ham, pies or canned food) is permitted as long as they do not exceed 5 kg and are in their original packaging. If the amount exceeds 5 kg, you must also specify these products.
  • When leaving Russia
    • If you are exporting prohibited or restricted goods, you must submit this in the customs declaration form. This is e.g. This is the case, for example, with works of art or antiques, fish and seafood in quantities of more than 5 kg (including sockeye salmon caviar) and also with black sturgeon caviar in quantities of more than 250 grams.
    • If you are exporting rubles, foreign currency and travelers checks worth more than $ 10,000, you must state this on the customs declaration form and go through the red aisle.

In a nutshell, You must Not through the red corridor go when the quantities of products you carry with you for personal and not for commercial use can be viewed. If you exceed these quantities or are carrying prohibited or restricted goods with you, you must state this in the customs declaration form and go through the red aisle.

You can of course easily pass through customs with your personal items such as mobile phone, tablet, camera, video camera or laptop.

If you exceed the set limits or bring products with restrictions, you have to declare them by filling out a form. In this case, it is very likely that you will have a Import tax have to pay, which can amount to up to 30% of the value of the goods:

If you have any doubts about filling out the form, you can ask the customs officers for help.

What drug It should be noted that in June 2016 new legislation was passed requiring travelers bringing their own medicines to Russia to show a prescription with the name of the traveler, the name of the medicine and the amount prescribed.

The customs police are generally quite strict with tourists. In summer, however, due to the long queues, it can happen that you are processed faster. In months when not so many people are traveling to Russia and the police have a little less to do, however, it can happen that they open suitcases and check them thoroughly. But as long as you don't have kilos of black sturgeon caviar, ancient works of art or illegal products with you, you shouldn't have any problems with customs control.

4. Russian airports: services, shops and currency exchange

As soon as you leave the customs area, you enter the Airport Arrivals Hall. To save time, it is always advisable to find out about the airport's services in advance, especially if you want to change money or withdraw money from an ATM.

Major Russian airports (including Moscow and St. Petersburg) often offer passengers a wide variety of services, such as:

  • Currency Exchange
  • ATMs (which you can use to withdraw rubles - see this article for more information)
  • Phone shops where you can buy a Russian SIM card to connect your smartphone to the internet cheaply.
  • Svyaznoy stores in Moscow airports where you can buy a Troika card to use the city's public transport.
  • Taxi service
  • Restaurants
  • Free WiFi
  • Tourist information (there is tourist information at Sheremetyevo and Vnúkovo airports in Moscow and at Pulkovo airport).

The largest Russian airports have one English version of their websitewith which you can find out which services are offered there and where they are located.

There are around 270 airports in Russia. The 8 airports with the highest passenger traffic and whose websites are also available in English are the following (in brackets the number of passengers in 2015):

  • Moscow
  • St. Petersburg
  • Ekaterinburg
  • Novosibirsk
  • Samara
  • Kazan
    • Kazan (1.8 million travelers)

If you visit the website of one of these airports you will find all information about the services offered and also Maps showing the location of the individual servicesso that you can find them quickly and not waste time.




I hope this article has helped you get an idea of ​​what to expect when entering and leaving Russian airports. Have you ever traveled to Russia? How was your experience I would be happy if you could tell me about it in the comments below!



Categories: 1. Russia Visa