Russian migration card: a piece of paper that is far more important than it looks

Photo by Alex Robert on Unsplash

You got all your travel documents in order and you’re about to travel to Russia. Be warned that there is one more document you absolutely need to obtain upon your arrival to Russia. Fail to do so and you very well may get in trouble with Russian police while travelling and fined on departure from the country.

Meet the migration card.

The migration card is a piece of paper the size of two standard passport pages that records your entry into and exit from the Russian Federation.

Where to get the card

If you are arriving at a major airport, the card will be printed for you with your details at passport control. At land border crossings and other entry points, you may still have to fill out the form by hand. Blank migration cards are normally to be found at counters in the waiting area before passport control.

How to fill the card yourself

You will need to fill out both sides of the form (Arrival and Departure), and you can do this in English. If you have booked with Z hostel and used our visa support to get your Russian visa, then you should mark "Tourism" as the "Purpose of travel", and in the next field where you are asked for the "Name of host person or company", write “Hotels Pro LLC”.

Register yourself with Migration Police

In Russia every time you stay at a hotel or a hostel you have to be registered with the Migration Police for the whole period of your stay there. Staying at a private accommodation? Surprise, you should also be registered. The migration card is as important to this process you as is your passport. The absence of this registration will not allow you to perform any legal action and can be the reason for a penalty or arrest by police. Good news is the registration is pretty easy: just hand the card or at least it’s photocopy along with your passport to your hosts. They are obliged to do it for you.

Depart from Russia like a pro

You will need to submit your migration card at passport control when you depart. If you are unable to do so, there is a chance that you will face fines and other possible problems and delays, so please keep your migration card carefully for the whole duration of your trip to Russia. And just in case be sure to make a copy or a quick photo scan of this silly but extremely important document.