FAQ

Holiday in Russia is one of the most exciting travel experiences one can find. However, booking such a holiday may cause a lot of questions. Our FAQ section is designed to answer the most commonly asked questions related to travelling to Russia.
If you have questions that aren’t answered here, or you have an interesting experience you would want to share with other travellers, please do contact us.

Visa to Russia

Do I need a visa?

If you are a travelling to Russia from the UK with a British passport, you need a Russian visa in order to enter the territory of the country or to travel along the Trans-Siberian railway. Same applies to Irish, US and most European passports. The visa is usually issued for the exact dates of travel, up to maximum 30 days. If you plan to enter Russia twice (for example on the way to Vladivostok, you decide to pop in to Mongolia for a day or two), then a double entry visa will be required, however, the entries do not add up – the validity of the visa will still be 30 days from the date of the first entry. IntoRussia can assist with several visa types, offering professional support at every stage of the visa process.

What documents do I need to get a Russian visa?

If you are a UK citizen travelling to Russia as a tourist, you will only need your passport, one passport-sized photo, an invitation letter and your online application. Self-employed travelers and company directors and home workers are also required to provide a bank statement for the last three months which have a current balance of a minimum of £100 per day for the duration of the visit. This is required as a proof that the traveller can sustain themselves throughout the trip. European citizens are also required to submit a copy of their insurance.

Is it difficult to get a Russian visa?

Russian visa process is a pretty straight forward one and as long as all of your documents are in order, it should not be a problem to get a visa. We will help to prepare you visa documents package to apply with a peace of mind.

What is a letter of invitation/tourist voucher for a Russian visa? How can I get it?

Every traveller needs an invitation letter to go to Russia as a tourist. You do not need to know anyone in Russia to receive an invitation. It can be bought from official tour operators or hotels. We will be happy to provide an invitation for you. The dates on the invitation has to correlate with the dates of your intended stay in Russia.

What are the visa processing times?

With the standard visa service there are 20 working days from the moment of the application until the day you get your visa. It can be 5 working days with the urgent visa service. If you apply in Edinburg the standard visa service is 5 working days while the urgent service is one day.

Where can I apply for my Russian visa?

There are three visa application centres in the UK:

London:
15- 27 Gee Street,
Barbican, London,
EC1V 3RD

Manchester:
53 Fountain Street (Regus Business Centre),
Manchester,
M2 2AN

Edinburgh:
64 Albion Road (back entrance),
Edinburgh,
EH7 5QZ

If you are applying in Ireland the documents have to be submitted to the Russian embassy:
184-186 Orwell Road, Rathgar,
Dublin 14,
Ireland

Do I need an appointment in the visa centre?

You do net need an appointment and can apply any time during the working hours of visa centres/embassys. Usually from 8:30 – 15:00 but the time may vary depending on the location.

How much does it cost to get a Russian visa?

You will need to pay a visa fee at the embassy. It varies depending on your nationality. Visa fee for UK and Irish passports are £101.40 for a single-entry standard service visa, £170.60 for a single-entry urgent service visa. For other nationalities please check here. Our visa support service (invitation letter + online application) costs £65 or included into your package if you book a tour with us!

Can I apply for a Russian visa in the UK if I have a non-UK passport?

Yes. In this case, in addition to your documents you need to submit a proof of residence in UK for the last 90 days. Such documents are a valid applicant's UK visa in passport or last three months of your bank statements or utility bills with applicant's name and address or a letter from the employer specifying the start date of their employment or for students, letter from University/ college/school specifying the date of enrolment and course details.

Can I travel to Russia visa free?

If you are a UK, US or Irish citizen, you can travel to St Petersburg visa-free on board of a cruise ship such as M/S Anastasia and remain there for 72 hours.

Do I need to go to the visa centre to get a Russian visa?

UK citizens have to apply for a visa in a visa centre to submit their finger prints. Children up to 12 y.o. do not need to submit their finger prints.

How much in advance can I apply for a Russian visa?

You can apply as early as six months in advance

What is visa registration, and do I need one?

If you are staying in a hotel, most hotels register your visa on arrival when you check in.
According to the Russian law, your Russian visa must be registered within 7 working days of your arrival. If you travel on Trans-Siberian Rail, you will most likely spend less than 7 days in each town or city and therefore, you will not need to register your visa.
If for any reason you are stopped by the police and you have not registered your visa within the required 7 days, you may be subject to a fine.

Do I need travel insurance?

It is not required for British citizens to receive a Russian visa but as with any holiday, travel insurance will bring you peace of mind and we recommend having it.

Climate and lifestyle

What is the best time to travel to Russia?

Russia is interesting to visit any season as every season has its benefits. Late spring and early autumn are the most comfortable periods as the weather is usually mild and pleasant and prices may be cheaper than in summer. Winters are usually pretty cold with an average temperature of -10 – -15 degrees. However, it is a great chance to enjoy the snow and it is not as busy or expensive as in summer months.

Are the places of interest open on a Sunday?

Most museums are usually open on Sundays. Some of them may have a day off during the week.

How easy is it to locate restaurants that provide vegetarian food in Russia?

Most Russian hotels have vegetarian options for breakfast. You will be able to choose from a variety of cereals, eggs (if you are not vegan), fruit, pasty and the like. Vegetarian options in local restaurants are usually not be a problem either. More than that, there are also a few dedicated vegetarian places available in Moscow, St Petersburg and other large cities. Jagannath is one of the most known chains of vegetarian places.

Do I need to leave tips?

Tips are not usually included in the bill and up to the customer to pay. If you want to thank the staff for their service in a restaurant, café, hotel and the like, the general rule would be 10% on top of the bill.

Trans-Siberian Railway journeys

What do I do if I change my passport during the booking process or after the train tickets are purchased?

On all trains within Russia, when boarding the train, you will be asked to show your ticket along with your passport that was used to book it. If your passport details do not match the information on your ticket, you will not be allowed to board the train.
If you are travelling with a new Passport and the train tickets are issued under the previous document, please make sure to have both documents with you (as your visa will be issued in the new passport and the train tickets will show the old passport number!). If you are unable to travel with your old passport, you will need to rebook the train tickets with the new document. Please be aware that this involves cancellation fees and a cost of a new ticket.

Is it safe to travel on the trains?

Yes, it is. Every carriage is looked after 24/7 by at least one attendant (provodnistas). Private cabins can be locked from the inside.
As with travelling anywhere around the world, let the common sense be your guide. Do not leave valuable items unattended and keep your passport and money on you at all times.
We recommend travelling with your own personal first aid kit as doctors are available only at the stations. Be careful hopping off and on the train at the train stations: the stops can only be for 5 - 20 minutes and if you are late for your departure, the train will not wait for you. If that ever happens, contact the station master and ask them to contact the train to take your luggage off at the next stop.
In many ways, trains are one of the safest means of travel across Russia, Mongolia and China!

Do I need any vaccinations before travelling along the Trans-Siberian railway?

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website. General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.

Generally, you do not need to be vaccinated to travel to Russia.

What do I do if I travel with prescription medication?

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
You can normally bring prescription and over the counter medication into Russia for personal use. However, if your medication contains narcotic or psychoactive substances (details available on the Rossiyskaya Gazeta website in Russian), you must carry a prescription in your name which has been translated into Russian and then notarised.
While in the European part of Russia, it is important to know that your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is not valid, and the reciprocal healthcare agreement between the UK and Russia ended on 1 January 2016.
While in Mongolia, you’re only allowed to bring medicines for personal use. These include medicines for urgent aid for up to 7 days or for the treatment of diabetes, cancer, mental illness or HIV/AIDS for which you have a doctor’s prescription. If you’re arriving by plane, you should carry all medicines in your checked baggage.

Do I need to be able to speak the language to travel on the Trans-Siberian?

Generally, you may be ok trying to communicate in English. However, you'll find use of English language is limited so we would recommend memorising at least a few phrases. You will find that it will help you get to know the locals who will appreciate your efforts. Carriage attendants will be used to working with a language barrier, so you will find they're surprisingly efficient at communicating with even minimum English.
Before departure, invest in a simple phrase book or download an offline version on your phone..
We also offer a variety of guided tours and day trips with English speaking guides.

Are there male / female only compartments?

All public trains in Russia offer mixed gender cabins. On some trains it is possible to order cabins for travellers of the same gender for an extra fee. If you feel you prefer to travel in male or female only compartment, please let us know before making the booking and we will do our best to accommodate your needs, but we are unable to guarantee this.

Is it possible to hop on and off the train?

Yes, it is possible. However, an open-date ticket does not exist – you cannot buy a Moscow to Beijing ticket, get off in Irkutsk and get back on the train the following day. You should always buy separate tickets for each part of your trip. The tickets are sold for an exact date, person and place.
We recommend planning your rail journey well in advance. We are here to help you with booking the right trains on right times. It is important to keep in mind that all trains stick to the Moscow time.

Is the internet available on Trans-Siberian trains?

There is no Internet available on the trains.
Please be aware that certain websites are blocked in China: you will not be able to access Facebook (or most social networks); Google will not work either so if you have a gmail account, please use an alternative e-mail address for correspondence. You can access Google in China by using a VPN. Not all VPNs will work, however.

Can I smoke on the train or at train stations?

No. In 2014, smoking was banned on Russian trains and at stations. Some locals may smoke in the space between carriages but it is illegal and may inflict a large fine, so we would not recommend joining them.
It's illegal to smoke within 15 metres of the entrance to any rail station in Russia. Please make sure to pay attention as signs will be clearly visible.

What are the trains like?

Public trains in Russia can vary a lot and it all depends not only on the chosen class of travel but on the train provider and the age of the train. On the trains, the carriages usually have nine compartments and are serviced by two attendants. Clean linen (sheets, towels, blankets and pillows) are provided for each berth in 1st and 2nd class. The compartments also have personal reading lights, space for your luggage, a big window and a small table. The air conditioning in summer works in most carriages and the heating is on during winter. It may be especially hot on the train and it is not possible to open the window so please make sure to have some light clothing in winter as well! But, the efficiency of the heating will depend on the age of the train and is entirely down to the carriage attendant's discretion and they certainly do prefer it warm; please be prepared for all possibilities.
There are facilities to provide hot water for drinks in every carriage (samovar).
If you are unsure about the amenities available on the train you have booked, feel free to ask our travel specialists so you are fully prepared before travelling. You will find that the amenities available on the train will vary depending on which class you have booked.

What are the bathrooms on the trains like?

A basic bio toilet is usually located at each end of the carriage. A bathroom will have a sink with running water and a western-style toilet (squat-style on some Chinese trains). Hot water is always available. The bathrooms are large enough to have a strip–wash (there is no shower facility).
The quality of the bathroom depends on the type of the train booked, and the class of the ticket. On some of the privately-run trains between Moscow and Saint Petersburg showers may be provided but generally there will be no shower. Some first-class cabins will have showers that are shared between two cabins; these are not full showers but shower heads connected to the tap so you can rinse your hair with ease.
Generally, they are clean and will have soap and toilet paper and are cleaned regularly throughout the journey. We do recommend though bringing your own toiletries as all toilets will be communal and very busy and likely run out of toiletries. We suggest that you have your own travel toothbrush, toothpaste, toilet roll, some soap and a small towel as well. The 1st class tickets will provide these as well, but you may choose to have your own anyway. We also advise to have a reusable bottle that you can fill with the hot water from the samovar and cool it down. You can drink it and also use it to brush your teeth with if you feel uneasy about using the tap water from the bathroom trains.
It is important to remember that many older trains will lock the bathrooms 30min before pulling into a station and will only reopen 30min after they left the station – so the toilet may not be accessible for 1h or 2h, depending on how long the train will stay at the station. The bathrooms are likely to be busy before these times because of this. At border crossing, trains can remain stationary for up to 6 or 7 hours so please take this into account.

Are food and drinks available on the train and the train station?

Generally, yes. On most long-distance trains there will be a restaurant carriage serving freshly cooked local dishes and a variety of hot and cold drinks. Opening times will change during the journey as you pass time zones so make sure you keep a note of them.
When you cross into Mongolia or China, the restaurant carriage may change to match the country, so the style of food and staff can change. And so will the currency!
Price and availability can vary so we would always recommend bringing a good supply of your own food. As there is always a samovar with hot water available we would recommend bringing a supply of instant noodles and soups, some dried fruits, granola bars and other foods to see you through the journey. During longer stops, you can also buy food at the train station shops (these are not open 24/7 though).
On some trains, there will be snack trolleys; if there are no snack trolleys you can sometimes buy snacks and drinks from the train attendant’s cabin.
You can also hop off the train during longer stops to buy some delicious local specialities right there on the platform. Many Babushkas living in the cities along the Trans-Siberian rail track prepare fresh food before the train’s arrival.
We also recommend packing your own cutlery and travel mug.

What if I have special dietary requirements?

Generally, if you are vegetarian, you should not have many problems. While meat dishes are the most popular across the Trans-Siberian, especially in Mongolia, vegetarian dishes will be available on most menus. Many local traders will be selling home-made bread and fresh fruit and vegetables on the train stations platforms.
The same advice can be offered to vegans; however, we advise more precaution in this case. You can always pack instant noodles and soups, granola bars, dried fruits and nuts etc.
Those with gluten and lactose intolerances will need to take the same precautions as at home. We can prepare a small message for you in Russian. You can print if off in a business card size and always have it on you. For further advice, please contact our travel specialists.

What are the travel classes on the trains?

We use a variety of trains on our Trans-Siberian journeys, from standard to branded trains. The so called "Branded Train" ("Firmenniy Train" in Russian) offers the higher standard of service with higher prices as well. Each train has a specific interior design based on the operator. Branded trains have their own name and unique design. Most trains are air-conditioned and have electric heating and TVs. Train attendants working on international routes have basic command of English, German or French.
Some cities have their own original trains and try to make them as comfortable as possible - these trains typically have names such as Kama (a train run by the city of Perm). However, these trains may not be operating on all legs of the journey and only travel on certain dates that can make the connecting travel difficult. They are also in very high demand; when the sale opens, the 1st class seats are often sold out within 24h. If no seats are available on branded trains or if we cannot use them due to the itinerary, we purchase the best available alternative. On our tours by public trains we offer 4 berth compartments. An upgrade to a 1st class 2 berth is possible, depending on the train used (many trains do not offer 1st class carriages and in that case we offer 2nd class for double use). There is really little difference between 1st and 2nd Class other than the number of berths in the cabin, and slightly more space in 1st Class. It is easy to decipher the standard of the train at a glance: all trains are numbered in Russia, less digits means more comfort. All branded trains have a single digit number (train Rossiya #2 for example). The “double digits” trains (#76, #56) are very popular and offer good standard as well, then we have the “three digit” trains such as #100 for example. These are the cheapest options and often used by locals as well. They still offer a comfortable standard and certainly will save you a lot of money!

2nd class coupe

The 2nd class cabin has 4 berths: two lower and two upper.
When we purchase the tickets we can select a specific berth (the lower beds are also more expensive). For older passengers, a lower bed may be recommended as they will not need to climb up the bed ladder. However, sometimes due to high demand it’s impossible to order lower berths only. But the upper berths are a good choice as well! They are used only by berth holders (day and night) and nobody can disturb you while lower berths may be used as common place for other passengers during the day. The 2nd class is also a perfect way to meet other travellers and is a preferred option for many passengers. If you are a couple travelling, we recommend getting one side of the cabin; 1 lower and 1 upper bed, that way you will have some privacy AND the place to sit during the day.

1st class SV

The 1st class cabin has 2 lower berths only. Two bio toilets (WC and wash basin) per carriage are located at both ends of corridor. 1st class cabin will be suitable for those who prefer more comfort and private place for travelling. But the price will be considerably higher!
It is important to know that if 1st class tickets are not available on a particular train (tickets are sold out or there are no 1st class carriages at all) we will buy out the whole 2nd class compartment for two passengers – two 2nd class tickets per person. Sometimes this way is even more comfortable as you can use all 4 berths in the cabin as opposed to 2 berths only in the 1st class carriage!
It is good to know as well that on the Mongolian train 24 / 23 Ulan-Bator – Beijing the 1st class compartments have one lower and one upper berth. Please make sure you are ok to climb the upper berth if you will be travelling on 1st class ticket. If you prefer a lower bed only, it may be preferable to get a 2nd class ticket instead.

3rd class Platzkart

This is the cheapest (and the most fun) class! Here the entire carriage is open and there are no closed compartments or curtains. There are two lower and two upper berths on one side, a small narrow corridor and another two berths on the opposite side, near the window. Instead of a compartment there are six berths and no doors. There is no possibility to lock anything or for people to have any privacy. The 3rd class tickets are good for anyone travelling on a budget and not interested in comfort, and looking to meet a lot of travellers as well! In some cases, Platzkart is more convenient for a woman travelling alone; you avoid getting stuck in a cabin with strangers! Sometimes it may be more comfortable to travel in 3rd class as these carriages may have better ventilation during hot summer months.

Seats

The last option for Russian train tickets are just seats. These are very similar to the kind of seats you will find on airplanes. Most long distance trains do not have seats. You can travel in a carriage with seats only for a short distance. Between Moscow and St. Petersburg for example, there are a few trains, which have wagons with seats with different levels of comfort (Express Sapsan train or a Nevsky Express).

Is there a luggage allowance on the trains?

The maximum allowed hand luggage is 36kg for 2bd and 3rd class and 50kg for 1st class. The sum of luggage dimensions cannot exceed a combined total of 180cm.
In addition to the 1 piece of hand luggage, each passenger is permitted to take a briefcase/laptop bag, handbag, camera, umbrella, and other small items free of charge as long as the sum of the three dimensions does not exceed 100cm.
Please bear in mind that you will want to keep your luggage safe once on-board so it is better to make sure it is not too big and bulky as it will not be able to fit.
If you are planning on transporting any luggage that is larger than the sizes specified, please contact our travel specialists who will be able to advise you on the best course of action (as you may need to purchase an extra luggage car ticket).

Where are the train stations in Moscow?

Moscow has nine train stations which are all served by the Metro Circle line as well (so you can easily get there by metro as well!). Each station serves a different direction so if you will you’re your own way to the train station; please make sure to pick the correct one.
If you are worried about turning up at the wrong station, please make sure to check out your itinerary. If you want to be sure you will be on time, we can book for you a car transfer from your hotel or airport.

Belorussky Station (Белорусский)
Address: 7 Tverskaya Zastava Ploshchad
Serves: Kaliningrad, Lithuania, Belarus, Poland, Germany, the Czech Republic and some trains to Latvia


Kazansky Station (Казанский)
Address: 2 Komsomolskaya Ploshchad
Serves: Central Asia, Ryzan, Ufa, Samara, Kazan, Ulan-Ude and Novorossiysk

Kievsky Station (Киевский)
Address: 1 Ploshchad Kievskogo Vokzala
Serves: Western Ukraine, South-Eastern Europe and Vnukovo Airport

Kursky Station (Курский)
Address: 29 Ulitsa Zemlyanoi Val
Serves: Southern Russia, Caucasus nations, Eastern Ukraine, and Crimea

Leningradsky Station (it will show as Oktyabrskaya on tickets) (Ленинградский / Октябрьская)
Address: 3 Komsomolskaya Ploshchad
Serves: Estonia, Finland, St. Petersburg and North-Western Russia

Paveletsky Station (Павелецкий)
Address: 1 Paveletskaya Ploshchad
Serves: Voronezh, Tambov, Volgograd, Astrakhan and Domodedovo Airport

Savyolovsky Station (Савеловский)
Address: 2 Ploshchad Savyolovskogo Vokzala
Serves: Kostroma, Cherepovets, some trains to Vologda and Sheremetyevo Airport

Yaroslavlsky Station (Ярославлский)
Address: 5 Komsomolskaya Ploshchad
Serves: Siberia, the Russian Far East, Mongolia and China

Rizhsky Station (Рижский)
Address: 1 Rizhskaya Pl
Serves: Latvia

Where are the train stations in Saint Petersburg?

Saint Petersburg has five train stations, also are easily accessible by Metro. Each station serves a different direction – the same as in Moscow. We can also prebook a transfer for you if you are worried about getting there on time.

Moskovsky Station (Московский)
Address: 85 Nevsky Avenue.
Serves: Moscow, far north, Central Asia, Crimea and the Caucasus region

Finlyandsky Station (Финландский)
Address: 5 Lenin Square.
Serves: Helsinki and other destinations in the North-West

Baltiysky Station (Балтийский)
Address: 120 Nab. Obvodnogo Kanala
Serves: Local and suburban services

Vitebsky Station (Витебский)
Address: 32 Zagorodny Avenue
Serves: Poland, Belarus, Ukraine and Odessa

Ladozhsky Station (Ла́дожский)
Address: 73 Zanevsky Pr
Serves: Murmansk, Volgoda and Yekaterinburg

What tickets do I need to travel on Russian trains?

On most routes these days, we are able to purchase electronic tickets with electronic registration. It means, all you need to have on you when boarding the train, is the e-tickets with a bar code that we will email you. In some cases, the e-registration is not available and the e-ticket will need to be exchanged at the train station. It is an easy process: It is free to exchange the ticket at an electronic exchange point available at the station. The exchange point will look like an ATM machine. If you will prefer to exchange the ticket at a booking office, there may be a fee to be paid (in the region of 50 roubles/ less than £1). This charge will be waived if there are no electronic exchange points available. The international train Moscow to Beijing for example, does not allow electronic registration so in this case the ticket will need to be exchanged in Moscow.
In some cases only paper tickets can be sold as well, for example for a train #306 from Irkutsk to Ulan Bator. In that case we have our agents in Irkutsk who will be buying the tickets for you and then will deliver it to you in Irkutsk as well (as we never post original tickets to the UK before your departure, in case the tickets will not arrive on time or may get lost in the post).

How do I find my platform and board the train at the station?

On every train station, there will be an electronic departure board showing the train number, destination, departure and platform. Smaller stations may use noticeboards. It is useful to learn how to pronounce your destination in Russian, as you can always ask and use the international language of hand gesture to find a way to the platform. Also, you may hear an announcement that may sound familiar, so you will know when to head to the platform.
If you already know the platform number, you can make your way there straight away; this will be always clearly marked. Before you will approach the train, your ticket and passport will be checked so you are sure no unauthorized travellers will be on the train! The train carriages are also clearly marked, but you do not need to worry about trying to find your berth, as the train attendant at the carriage entrance will again check all your documents and will show you the way.
Russian Railways do recommend that you arrive at train stations a minimum of 1 to 2 hours before departure. You can also board the train up to 30 minutes prior to departure. We certainly recommend boarding rather earlier than later.

Can I travel with children?

Children are welcome to travel the Trans-Siberian and depending on their age may receive discounted tickets. It is worth remembering that during some sections of the Trans-Siberian, the train will not stop for several hours and there is no entertainment on board, so you'll need to bring your own.
At border crossing, bathrooms are likely to be closed so you'll need to look up the timings prior to travel to work around these times.
When boarding the train, children must have their own passport or be listed in their parents passport, or have a copy and translation of their birth certificate.

What currency should I take on-board?

We recommend that you take bank card as well as cash with you. Cards are good for bigger cities and cash for smaller towns and the train itself. While trains do offer card payments more often these days, they can become unreliable when further away from cities because they require an internet connection. You always need to make sure to have local currency on you. You can only exchange Mongolian currency in Mongolia so you will need to take money to exchange, USD and EUR have the best rates, or you can use ATM machine in Ulan-Bator to withdraw local currency.

What happens if I miss my train?

We know that sometimes due to unforeseen circumstances, it may happen that you will not make in on time. Unfortunately, you will need to buy a new ticket for the next train if you would still like to make your journey. If you missed the train during a short stop and you still have your baggage on board, please contact the Station Master immediately. They will attempt to help you resolve this.

What happens if I lose my ticket?

If you have an Electronic Registration ticket, you can reprint it easily. If you have an Electronic Ticket, not yet exchanged to the paper one, you can also simply reprint your voucher.
If you have already exchanged your e-ticket for a paper ticket, or originally bought a paper ticket, and it has been lost or damaged you will need to pay a charge to have it replaced. When travelling late at night, the ticket offices may be closed, but it is still worth trying as staff will be as helpful as they can.

What happens at the border crossing between Russia, Mongolia and China?

Border crossing will take up to four hours on either side of the border.
Several uniformed border control officers will board the train; one group of guards will go cabin to cabin checking visas and passports. These guards will also check customs declarations. The other group of guards will check bags and cabins. During these checks you'll be asked to remain in your cabin.
This process will be similar on both sides of the border.
Once the passenger border checks have been carried out you will be able to leave the train. If you do, make sure you take any valuables and anything else you may need for the next hour or two. This is because new carriages will be added or removed. And while entering China, the wheels of the train will be changed to fit the Chinese track.
It may seem a little worrying when the train suddenly moves without you, but this is a standard procedure and can happen three or four times. When the train will be ready to depart, you will not miss the announcement.

What about disabled facilities?

The disabled facilities are not available on all trains on the Railway network in Russia; they can be found only on a few trains travelling between Moscow and Saint Petersburg, such as the Sapsan express for example. On the trains that do have the disabled facilities, the carriages have a lift at the carriage entrance and the cabins themselves will have wider corridors to accommodate wheelchairs or other walking aids. The wider hallways are not across the whole train so people who use wheelchairs will have difficulties accessing other parts of the train, such as the restaurant carriage.
For passengers with visual impairments, all switches, power sockets and call buttons will have brail instructions and special audio devices that make it easier to contact the train attendants.
Each cabin designated to the disabled passengers will have its own bathroom facility with enough room for those with limited mobility or wheelchairs. They are also equipped with handrails, lighting and sound boards for passengers with visual or audio impairments.
Most train stations in larger cities will have facilities for passengers with disabilities, including disabled toilets, and wheelchair ramps.
Please contact us for further advice to discuss your exact travel requirements.

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