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Rights of foreign citizens and persons without citizenship in the Russian Federation

The legal status of foreign citizens and persons without citizenship in the Russian Federation is determined by the Law of the USSR "Regarding the Legal Status of Foreign Citizens" (this law remains in force to this day on the territory of the Russian Federation), the Rules Governing Entry of Foreign Citizens into the Russian Federation, and the Federal Law "Regarding Procedures for Entry into the Russian Federation and Exit from the Russian Federation".

Foreign citizens entering Russia must have a valid national passport, while persons without citizenship must have valid identity documents issued by an authorized body in the country of which they are permanent residents. Additionally, visitors to Russia must have an entry or entry/exit visa issued by a diplomatic representative office of the Russian Federation. When visitors pass through the Russian border at a border-control point, their passports and visas must be stamped to certify entry into Russia. The date indicated on the stamp is considered to be the first day of the visitor's stay in the Russian Federation.

In St. Petersburg and Leningrad Region visitors' national passports or other documents (in the case of persons without citizenship) must be registered at district departments of the passport and visa service in the course of the three days (excluding public holidays and weekends) following a visitor's arrival at his/her destination. In addition, the following rules apply:

  • visitors visiting Russia on personal business must submit a personal application for registration at the district department of the passport and visa service for the district in which they are staying;
  • visitors who have entered Russia in order to study must submit a letter of confirmation from the institution at which they are studying, and are to undergo registration at the district department for the district in which they are staying;
  • visitors who have entered Russia for purposes of work, commerce, tourism, or religion or for other purposes must submit a letter of confirmation from the organization which is receiving them, and are to undergo registration at the district department of the passport and visa service for the district where their receiving organisation is situated.

When national passports and visas have been registered, they are to be returned to their holders. Foreigners staying in Russia are obliged to carry on them passports and visas, and are to present these documents when requested to do so by members of law-enforcement bodies and other authorised bodies.

Hotels which have the right to register foreign visitors are to register the passports of all foreign citizens staying in them, regardless of the purpose or length of a visitor's stay in the country. In the event that a foreign citizen is staying in a private apartment or in a small hotel where there is no registration service, he/she must apply for registration to the nearest Department of Visas and Registration of Foreign Citizens at the local District Office of Internal Affairs. National passports are to be registered for the length of time indicated in a visitor's visa or tour document.

In the event that a foreign visitor loses his/her national passport or visa, he/she should submit written notification to the Office of Internal Affairs for the district in which he/she has been registered. Receipt of such notification is to be acknowledged by issue of a certificate to this effect. Foreign citizens must apply to their national consulates (embassies) to receive new national passports, and to the department of the Passport and Visa Service where they were registered in order to receive new exit documents.

Foreign citizens are entitled to move freely in areas of the Russian Federation which are open to foreign citizens. However, upon arrival at each new destination, they must register their stay with the authorities either at the hotel in which they are staying or at the local Office of Internal Affairs.

Procedures governing movements within the Russian Federation by foreign dozens whose national passports have been registered at the Ministry of Internal Affairs or the latter's representative offices are determined by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. These procedures likewise apply to employees of airlines, banks, trading companies, and other permanent representative offices of foreign organisations.

Foreigners may enter and move about within territories closed to foreign citizens only after permission has been obtained from the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

In Leningrad Region territories dosed to foreign citizens are: the islands in the Finnish Gulf and a 20-km wide strip of coast between the city of Lomonosov and the mouth of the River Narva. The city of Lomonosov itself is open to foreign dozens.

In order for a foreign sitizen to enter the above territories, the organisation which receives him/her must obtain permission in the manner established by law. Sanctions that may be used against foreign dozens or persons without sitizenship for violations of rules and legislation governing stays in the Russian Federation are: fines; reduction of the time for which the violator is permitted to stay in the Russian Federation; expulsion from Russia; criminal proceedings.

All foreign citizens committing violations of the law on Russian territory are to bear administrative and criminal liability on a parity with citizens of Russia and in accordance with Russian law. The liability of persons with diplomatic immunity for violations of the law is to be settled only through diplomatic channels.

Russian law allows that persons may be arrested, searched, or have their personal belongings or vehicles searched should this be the necessary in order to prevent violations of the law.

If you have questions or problems with registration in St. Petersburg, you may receive advice on tel. 164-21-86, 164-04-66.

(c) 2000