You’ve probably raised your eyebrow and think that the headline has a wrong wording. Perhaps it should have been “Remember your passport when you go to Russia”, but I actually mean what it says. Ready why you should carry your passport in Russia in this blogpost.
For most people your passport is probably something you think of 10 minutes before going to the airport to travel somewhere. Many often don’t even know where it is as you almost never need it.
In Russia it is certain that everyone carries their passport, as you do with your credit card and mobilephone. The passport functions as an ID-card and is used in many situations in stores and in the public. For the 3 weeks that I have been in Russia, I have already used my passport to buy a SIM card, get a library card and sign up for a fitness center.
You should also not be surprised if you are asked to show your passport when you want to return something you have purchased in a store. A passport is the primary identification in Russia.
It happens relatively often, that the police or security guards stop you and ask you to show your ID, which in most cases will be your passport. It usually happens in connection with transport and I see it almost daily in the metro.
For me it’s a little unusual to walk around with my passport in Russia and it feels kind of too formal to show it to a receptionist in a fitness center. There is however, a big difference in how I perceive my passport and how Russians perceive their passports, since they actually have two types: an internal one and an international one.
Most people walk around with the internal passports that are used within Russia. You can get it when you are 14 years old. The passport has to renewed when you turn 20 and again when you turn 45.
As a tourist you can get by with a copy of your passport in Russia. In some cases, a driving license will also be enough. The reason I write ‘in some cases’ is that it really depends on which police officer you meet. Some may be friendly, while others may even take you to the police station, where you either have to wait for a very long time or pay to get out.