Adopting from Russia - Arriving in Moscow

<< Packing & Preparing for Older Children In the City Your Child Is From >>

Russia is not the best place to start for people who have not traveled abroad yet. This starts in the airport, where you may be herded around the entire airport before descending to immigration. You can wait anywhere from 10 minutes to three hours in the dark room waiting to go through.

Or you can arrange for "Fast track" service to expedite your arrival and clearance through customs and immigration. Its $100/person from GotoRussia.

Then you will pick up your bags. The luggage carts can only be paid for in rubles. When we overpacked in 5/97, we bought one. The cost is about $2, but you must have rubles! There was one report at the 4/99 ODS conference of a couple that bought rubles on the spot, but I don't remember seeing such a money exchange.

You should declare all your US currency. When you go through customs, insist on having your customs declaration stamped. You will need it stamped to get out of the country, or you may have your US currency confiscated. Don't lose it! Update [4/03]: You may now bring in $10K each without declaring it.

After customs, you will walk out and look for someone holding a sign with your name or the facilitator may recognize you from your pictures or you may be the last one out from that plane. The driver will bring the car around, you will load your baggage and drive to the hotel.

Important things to remember:

Loosey, goosey, go with the flow.
You have already had your first lessons in the airport.

Do not jaywalk!
See the earnest admonition on the
Moscow page.

Changing money
[11/98] The best rates for changing money are now at spooky little rooms tucked away in seemingly random places. Your facilitator may take you to one of these. If you don't go to one of these, the hotel will have a money changer.

Hotels in Moscow will take charge cards; in Yaroslavl at least, they do not. Guess that in addition to whatever you have to pay in cash for the hotel, you will need about one times the cost of each day's hotel room in rubles. More if you plan on buying lots of souvenirs.

[11/98] The cost of going from the airport to the hotel is $50. When you are installed in your hotel room, the driver may expect to be paid in cash.

When you check into the hotel in Moscow, you will hand over your passports, which will be held for a few hours. This happens in every hotel. You will get used to it.

You will probably leave for the child's city the next day. If your facilitator says you have to go to the embassy to pick up forms, tell him or her that (s)he should have gotten the forms in advance.

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