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Russia Travel Logistics

Over the years we have received a lot of requests for information regarding travel to Russia and, in particular, to Chukotka, from our partners and collaborators. To help ease the burden of confusion and anxiety associated with travel to Russia, we have compiled some basic information.

visa time line

Travel to Chukotka, Russia

(Information for American cooperators traveling to Chukotka)

Inviting party

Your project partners in Chukotka are going to be your inviting party. They will need to initiate the paperwork for the special permission entry form and subsequent visa invitation.

Special permission

Chukotka Autonomous Okrug (Region) is a closed border region. In order to enter Chukotka, you will be required to have a special permission entry form issued by the Government of Chukotka Autonomous Region with an approval from the Russian Federation Security Service and Border Control Service. This entry form is known to Russians as propusk. It takes about 60 working days to process all the necessary paperwork associated with the special permission entry form. For details contact us or consult the Chukotka regional government's Web site.

Visa invitation

Crossin Anadyr' Lagoon on a barge (NPS photo by Katerina Wessels). Ferry Russian style - crossing Anadyr' Lagoon on a barge (NPS photo by Katerina Wessels).

In addition to a special permission to enter Chukotka, foreign visitors to Russia are required to have a Russian entry visa. To apply for a visa, you will need to have a visa invitation. Your project cooperator can possibly obtain a visa invitation for you through their organization if it has the appropriate authority and registration. You should ask your partner if they do or can obtain the visa invitation through a partner organization! Please allow 30 working days for the processing of all necessary paperwork associated with a visa invitation.

You can also obtain a visa invitation through an Internet-based tourist company specializing in visa support for Russian travel. The Consulate General of Russia in Seattle provides Internet links to some of these companies. Go to the Consulate General of Russia in Seattle Web site.

Visa

After you receive your visa invitation, you can apply for a visa directly with one of the Consulates General of Russia in Washington, D.C., New York, San Francisco, Seattle, or Houston via the web site. The consulate you apply to depends on the physical location of your current residence.

Alaska residents should apply at the Russian Consulate General in Seattle. You can obtain the application form and the list of all necessary documents at the consulate Web site. The visa application and all supporting documents can be mailed to the consulate via the U.S. Postal Service. The applicant is not required (except in some special cases) to travel to a consulate for a face-to-face interview.

You can also apply with the help of a tourist company specializing in Russia travel; however, it will cost you an additional fee.

Visa-free travel

In 1989 the U.S. and U.S.S.R. signed an agreement for visa-free travel between Alaska and Chukotka. A visa-free travel program was instituted by the governments of the United States and Russia in the early 1990s. The program was designed to provide an opportunity for the Native people of Northwest Alaska and Eastern Chukotka to reconnect with their relatives across the Bering Strait and restore their cultural links. Unfortunately at this point, there is no Web site in the United States that provides information on the agreement or program. For details on visa-free travel in Chukotka, check out the Chukotka Autonomous Region Administration Web site.

How to get there

Air travel

Flights from Nome, Alaska, to Provideniya and Anadyr', Chukotka, are available by charter service and with limited seat fare availability. Provideniya and Anadyr' are the only two international airports in Chukotka that will accept charter flights from the other countries. For charter services contact Bering Air at their Web site or by calling (907) 443-8988.

Travel inside Chukotka

Russian border guards checking Bering Air pilot's necessary paperwork (NPS photo by Katerina Wessels). Do you have your documents in order - Russian border guards checking Bering Air pilot's paperwork (NPS photo by Katerina Wessels).

Most communities and areas in Chukotka are very remote and cannot be reached via road or scheduled airplane service. General aviation practically doesn't exist there. Chukotavia, based near Anadyr' in Ugo'nye Kopi, is the only airline that operates inside of Chukotka with infrequent scheduled flights to Markovo, Cape Shmidt, Egenkinot, Provideniya, Beringovskiy, Lavrentiya, Pevek, and Keperveem. If you conduct your research in a remote location, you can get there by chartering a helicopter or by boat (if it is a coastal community). Please get cost estimates for a charter and make arrangements well in advance!

From Provideniya one can travel by road to New Chaplino, by boat in summer to Yanrakynnot and Lorino (around $800 for the boat), and by helicopter (around $180 round-trip seat fare) to Lavrentiya and Uelen.

Anadyr's airport is located across from the city on the other side of the Anadyr' Lagoon. There is no road from the airport to the city. Crossings are made during the summer via a ferry barge (around $120 one way), motor boat "Kamchatka" (about $11 per person), or hovercraft ($33 per person one way); during winter in a vehicle across the ice road (make the arrangements ahead of time); during spring break-up or fall seasons via helicopter (around $72).

Upon arrival

Please remember that if you intend to stay in Russia longer than three days, you must register your passport and visa with the local police (militia) department. Some hotels offer to take care of this process for their guests, and you will be asked to give your passport to the hotel clerk upon arrival. The passport will be returned to you within a period of a few hours to a day.

Lodging

Several hotels are available in the capital city of Anadyr'. Hotel rates in Anadyr' range from $160 to $260 a night for a single room with breakfast. Please ask your cooperators to arrange for private lodging if you are staying in communities outside Anadyr'. Estimated lodging costs are $70 to $100 a night.

Food and incidentals

Food and groceries are readily available in Anadyr', which boasts several restaurants, a nice supermarket, and a number of grocery stores; however, in the other communities food can be scarce. Please discuss this with your Russian host to find out if you need to bring some dried food supplies with you.

Marine mammal products – Don't break the law!

It is possible that your Russian hosts will present you with a Native craft. Please make sure that the materials it is made of do not contain any marine mammal products. The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) prohibits the importation of marine mammals and marine mammal products into the U.S. Your gift will be taken away from you upon crossing the U.S. border by a customs agent. For more information on the U.S. Customs regulations, please check with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Travel to other areas in Russia

(Information for American cooperators traveling to other areas in Russia besides Chukotka)

Travel to other areas in Russia besides Chukotka proves to be less complicated. You will not be required to obtain a special permission to enter, but will need a visa invitation and visa. For details refer to the sections above. The cost of lodging, food, and incidentals, as well as the names and locations of hotels and restaurants, can be obtained through the Internet. Many options are available for travel inside the country.

Travel to Alaska, USA

(Information for Russian cooperators, traveling to Alaska)

Inviting party

Your project partners in Alaska are going to be your inviting party.

Note to the inviting party:

When you plan your Russian collaborator's visit, please remember that in the instances when your guest resides in a remote location, it can take up to two months to travel for an interview at one of the U.S. consulates in Russia.

Visa invitation

If you plan to travel to Alaska to conduct your project, please remind your U.S. partner that Russian citizens, like citizens of many countries, require a nonimmigrant visa to visit the United States. In order to start the process of getting a visa, you will need an invitation from your U.S. partner. The invitation can be issued by any legitimate U.S. organization or by a U.S. citizen. The invitation must indicate the purpose of the proposed trip, travel time frame, host's name, and who is responsible for the payment of the travel costs. An invitation by an organization is issued in the form of a letter on the organization's letterhead.

Visa

A nonimmigrant visa application should be filed electronically with all necessary supporting documentation. Then an interview appointment should be scheduled through Pony Express courier service. For more details see the Web site of the United States Embassy in Moscow.

Travel to the U.S.

A variety of information on U.S. air travel, touring Alaska, lodging, food, and other travel matters are readily available on the Internet through a variety of Web sites. A traveler coming into the U.S. can obtain all information on crossing the U.S. border at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and learn about the U.S. border customs rules and regulations.

Last Updated: October 24, 2013