Travelling to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia this summer? Here’s everything you need to know.
They’ve done it. England have qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. And with that comes a new dawn of interminable hope that - against all better judgement - the national team may escape a major tournament with something more respectable than red-faced humiliation and abject despair.
Yes, hope springs eternal. And if you’re planning on heading to Russia next summer to soak up the atmosphere or watch a match, here’s a selection of advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office that will help you avoid scoring any own goals when it comes to planning your trip.
Plan ahead. Way ahead.
The sooner you plan your trip, the more money you are likely to save on flights and accommodation. The World Cup takes place between 14th June and 15th July 2018. Yet the draw for the group stages takes place on 1st December. Once it's complete you will be able to see where and when each group game will take place - and between which teams.
Buy match tickets from official suppliers only
Don’t make the mistake of buying dodgy tickets from a tout. It could prove costly. Instead make sure you only buy tickets from official suppliers - either through the FIFA website or through national Football Associations. Your match ticket will need to be linked to your Fan-ID before you can enter a stadium.
Fan-ID and visas
If you have an official match ticket you must apply for Fan-ID before you travel. This replaces the need to apply for a visa. Apply for your Fan-ID as soon as you receive your match ticket and make sure it covers the duration of your intended stay in Russia. If your Fan-ID is lost or stolen you can get a duplicate from Fan-ID distribution centres. Alternatively if you don’t have a match ticket but still want to travel out to Russia, you will need to apply for a visa.
Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months after the date your Fan-ID or visa expires. For safety and security it’s a good idea to make two copies of the photo page of your passport, keeping one with you at all times. If your passport goes missing - like most England players when the pressure is on - you will need to get an Emergency Travel Document. You can get this from either the British Embassy in Moscow or the British Consulate General in St Petersburg. It costs £100.
Don’t leave without good travel insurance
EHICs are not valid in Russia. That means you will need to pay for any unexpected medical treatment you receive, unless you have a good travel insurance policy. Make sure your travel insurance covers any medical conditions you are travelling with as well as any activities you plan to enjoy. Failure to declare your medical conditions could invalidate your entire policy.
Here at World First we cover up to £10 million medical expenses, dozens of sports and activities and can insure thousands of medical conditions. It’s comprehensive cover at a price that’s fair.
Do your research
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office provides up-to-the-minute travel advice for 225 countries and territories. Monitor their website for the latest official safety and security updates for Russia. It’s also a good idea to sign up to their email alerts. Many places in Russia are capable of providing something of a culture shock, so make sure you research each destination you intend to visit.
Save emergency numbers in your phone
The number for the emergency services in Russia is 112. You should also save the phone numbers of your nearest British Embassy or Consulate. They will be able to advise you if something unexpected happens and you need support while you’re away. The number for the British Embassy in Moscow is + 7 495 956 7200, or call +7 812 3203200 for the British Consular General in St Petersburg.
Before you leave, check with your network that your phone will work out in Russia. Ask about data roaming too. You don’t want to receive an eye-wateringly expensive phone bill once you’re home just because you uploaded your video of Harry Kane and co singing the national anthem to Facebook.
Arriving in Russia
You’ve landed on the runway and you’re on Russian soil. Now what? Your first job is to sign a migration card, which is produced electronically at passport control. There are two identical parts to this card: one retained by Russian immigration and the other retained by you. Make sure you keep it safe with your passport as you will need it when you leave Russia.
Getting around (for free)
If you haven’t yet noticed that Russia is on the hefty size, you will do once you arrive. Leave lots of time for getting around and research your travel itineraries thoroughly. If you have a Fan-ID you are entitled to free train travel on selected routes to and from host cities - though this will be available on a first come, first served basis. Visit the Transport 2018 website for more. Likewise there will be free inner-city public transport on selected routes on match days.
Once you arrive in a host city, you are required to register within 24 hours. Your accommodation provider will do this for you, but it’s your responsibility to make sure they have done so. Don’t forget to ask.
Avoid drugs and alcohol (unless you want penalties)
A pre-match pint is all well and good. But drinking to excess will invalidate your travel insurance policy and could see you refused entry to stadiums. Meanwhile possession of drugs carries long sentences in Russia, regardless of that drug’s classification in the UK. England already have an abysmal record with penalties at major tournaments. Don’t make it worse.
At the stadium...
Security will be tight around the stadiums on match days so allow plenty of time to get there. Stadiums will typically open three hours before kick-off, but before taking your seat you can expect to pass through screening areas that include metal detectors. Avoid taking a bag unless you have to as you will likely be asked to hand it over to security officials to collect at the end of the match. Also beware that lots of loose change, lighters, bottles and cans will likely be confiscated and not returned. To enter a stadium you will need your match ticket, your Fan-ID and your passport.
Don’t outstay your welcome
When you apply for your Fan-ID or visa, you will be asked for a date that you will be departing from Russia. Staying beyond this date can incur severe penalties, including a fine, a court hearing or deportation. If you need a visa extension, enquire about this before your visa expires.
Don’t go without us...
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