FAQ – 2. Russian visas and customs.

An important update about Russian visas and customs procedures when visiting Russia for filming purposes.

Which visa I need to film in Russia? How can I bring the 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 of all? Russian visas for a film crew in 2019.

Russian visas.

There are 4 main kinds of visas in Russia:

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

First of all you need to understand what where and how you plan filming. Depending on this you may use one of the 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. Therefore 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 allows 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 has several difficulties.

If during your filming in Russia you will need getting access for filming purposes to government-owned institutions like museums, hospitals or schools Russian tourist visa is not working for you.


Tourist russian visas work if you plan filming:

  • landscapes
  • monuments
  • public places
  • privately owned locations

Russian tourist visa doesn’t work if you plan 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 having a business visa?

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


Business visa works if you plan filming in Russia

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

Russian Business visa doesn’t fit to your fliming requirements if you plan 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 purposes 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 visas or tourist, but sometime it’s mandatory to go for it. 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…  basically 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.

Journalist visa works if you plan filming in Russia

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

Journalist visa doesn’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.tv for  our fixers to 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?

Is nearly the as a business visa except it’s trickier to get.


Customs procedures for entering Russia with filming equipment.

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

Seems like you decided to bring the equipment with you instead of renting it locally.  Above all for bringing filming equipment to Russia we recommend using the carnet ATA. You can bring the equipment using a carnet ATA having any kind of visa. We recommend having a business or journalist visa for this because you may be asked to tell 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 you to get through the 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 entry into the country. E.g if you plan filming 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 doublecheck that you connection is not shorter than 2.5 hours.

It’s highly recommended to have with you a usb flash card 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.

Main airports guide. Where to find the customs in Moscow and Saint Petersburg?

SVO Terminal D where are the customsHow to find the customs in terminal D in Sheremetievo (SVO) airportIf you are entering Russia via SVO (Sheremetyevo) airport – for stamping the carnet upon arrival you will have to undertake a small quest. First you will have to find you 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 officialy be in Russia.


where are the customs at DME airport in MoscowArriving 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.




Where are the customs at Pulkovo (LED) airportLED (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 it pay for the extra luggage. Finally with the bags in hand you head to the customs zone. SVO (Sheremetievo 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, we will gladly help you with all the 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 email us or call +79046012232.