Russian visas for TV production and Customs.

Important information about Russian visas and customs procedures when visiting Russia for filming purposes.

Which visa do I need to film in Russia? How can I bring filming equipment into the country? Do I need a media (journalist) visa to visit Russia for filming purposes? How to apply for a Russian business visa, what should I do first? Russian visas for a film crew in 2020.

Russian visas.

There are four main types of visas in Russia:

  1. Tourist
  2. Business
  3. Cultural
  4. Media

We made a quiz to define which visa type you need. Please answer a few questions for finding out the type of visa that is required for your production. 

First of all, you need to understand what, where, and how you plan to film. Depending on this, you may use one of the following visa categories:

The outlook of a russian tourist visaTourist visa. Probably it is enough for filming in Russia? 

A tourist visa works perfectly for small filmings that don’t need getting special permits or getting access to official events like press conferences or competitions. So if you need to make a bigger project and you only can get a tourist visa for some reason, renting equipment locally or hiring a cameraman in Russia would allow you to film some things that require accreditation or official access.  Also, bringing lots of equipment on a Carnet ATA to Russia is possible, but comes with several difficulties.

If, during your filming in Russia, you will need to get access to government-owned institutions like museums, hospitals, or schools, a Russian tourist visa will not work for you.


Tourist Russian visas work if you plan on filming:

  • Landscapes
  • Monuments
  • Public places
  • Privately owned locations

Russian tourist visa don’t work if you plan on filming

  • Press conferences
  • Competitions
  • Hospitals, schools
  • Filming close to border zone areas

The outlook of a russian business visaBusiness visa. Can I film in Russia while having a business visa?

This works perfectly for any kind of filming in Russia that doesn’t require access to official (governmental)  press conferences. Another restriction is filming in trains and getting access to border zone areas. For filming inside a train (or at any location owned by the Russian Railroads), a journalist visa is a must! Contact us to get assistance in getting business visas to Russia.


Business visas work if you plan on filming in Russia

  • Landscapes, monuments, public places, privately owned locations
  • Museums
  • Commercial structures
  • National reserves
  • Most sports events

Russian business visas don’t fit to your filming requirements if you plan on filming:

  • Official press conferences or press events organized by the state or the russian government
  • Filming inside Russian trains or filming anything that belongs to Russian Railroads
  • Filming any military base or object, including filming at Cosmodrome Baikonur.
  • Entering for filming near border zone areas.

The outlook of a russian media visaRussian journalist visa.  When do I need a journalist visa in Russia? How do I get one?

It’s a bit trickier to get journalist visas to Russia than business or tourist visas, but sometimes it’s mandatory to go for it. A journalist visa is a must for getting official accreditations from Russian ministries. So for covering official press conferences, big sports events, filming space launches from a cosmodrome… with the journalist visa you will be able to film everything that is possible to legally film in Russia. Very important! Having a journalist visa doesn’t mean that you don’t need to apply for a filming permit or accreditation in Russia. It only gives you the possibility to apply for a permit. Contact us to get all the required filming permits for filming in Russia.

Getting a journalist visa is the only way to legally film inside a train in Russia.

A journalist visa works if you plan on filming

  • Landscapes, monuments, public places, privately owned locations
  • Museums, commercial structures, national reserves, most sporting events
  • Filming at a press conference
  • Visiting big sports events for filming purposes as a representative of any foreign media in Russia
  • Filming inside a train or any location owned by Russian Railroads
  • Filming a space launch from the Cosmodrome Baikonur

Journalist visa don’t work if you plan filming in Russia:

  • Something that legally can’t be filmed. Military bases, some factories, and the work of customs officers.
  • Something where you don’t have a permit from the owner. Contact us at info@filmspb.tvso our fixers can help you in getting all the filming permits that are required for filming in Russia.

Russian media accreditation

After getting the journalist visa you should apply for a media accreditation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As a result, they will give you a press-card that will verify that you are recognized as a journalist in Russia.

Cultural visa for visiting Russia. When do I need it?

It’s nearly similar to a business visa. Sometimes it’s easier to get a cultural visa if the purpose of your visit to Russia if filming inside a national reserve or in a museum.

Customs procedures for entering Russia with filming equipment.

The outlook of a carnet ATABringing filming equipment to Russia using the Carnet ATA

If you want to bring the equipment with you instead of renting it locally, we recommend using the carnet ATA. You can bring the equipment using a carnet ATA when holding any kind of visa. We recommend having a business or journalist visa for this because you may be asked to explain the purpose of your visit. Nevertheless, if for some reason you only can travel using a tourist Russian visa – our fixers in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Irkutsk, Krasnoyarsk, and Yekaterinburg will help get you through customs.

Customs procedures upon arrival to Russia

Very important: the goods that were brought to Russia have to be cleared at the customs that is situated in the city where you first enter the country. E.g if you plan to film in lake Baikal in Siberia and you fly having a connection flight in Irkutsk – you have to undertake the customs procedure in Moscow.  Consequently, you will have to get all the luggage that is part of the carnet and bring it to the customs. Please pay attention and double-check that your connection is not shorter than 2.5 hours.

It’s highly recommended to have with you a USB flash drive with the photos of the content of the bags as well as a translation to Russian of the carnet contents. As a result, the customs procedure will take less time.

Airport guide: Where to find the customs in Moscow and Saint Petersburg?

SVO Terminal D where are the customs

If you are entering Russia via a SVO (Sheremetyevo) airport – for stamping the carnet upon arrival you will have to undertake a small quest. First, you will have to find your way from the arrival zone to the departure zone and you will find the customs desk in a corner of Terminal D (see attached scheme).

Second – after you get the carnet stamped you have to go back to the arrival zone, to knock to the red corridor doors and to show that you have the carnet stamped. After completing this procedure your equipment will officially be in Russia.

where are the customs at DME airport in Moscow

Arriving in DME (Domodedovo Airport) is much easier for bringing the carnet into the country.

You will be directly guided through the procedure at the red channel and you won’t have to go anywhere upon arrival.

LED (Pulkovo) in Saint Petersburg is also quite straightforward with the procedure. Just head to the red channel.

It’s highly recommended to have someone Russian-speaking waiting for you at the arrival zone, as sometimes the customs officers may not be English-speaking. If one of the bags that is part of the carnet is lost or there’s any kind of mistake in the papers – you can ask the customs officer to invite to the customs zone the fixer who is waiting for you and to solve all the questions.

Carnet ATA customs procedures departing from Russia.

First of all, you have to check in for your flight. DON’T GIVE THE BAGS! KEEP THEM! After that, pay for the extra luggage. Finally, with the bags in hand you head to the customs zone. SVO (Sheremetyevo Airport) – the same one where you were upon arrival, DME (Domodedovo) airport – in the arrival zone there’s a door at the left side of the airport. LED (Pulkovo airport, St Petersburg) – head first to the customs, sometimes they check you in to the flight inside the customs zone.

Please contact us and we will gladly help you with all customs procedures in Russia and with the translation of the carnet content.

If you have any kind of questions about Russian visas or about customs procedures – please feel free to contact us email us or call +79046012232.