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Money Matters

Any visitor coming to a foreign country for the first time should be informed about money matters. The necessary things to know are: the currency, which is used in the country you visit, an exchange rate and the places, where you can exchange money at favorable rate. Note that there are a lot of ways to exchange money in Russia and it is very important to choose the most convenient and secure of them. You are also required to know about the customs, concerning such things as filling out a customs declaration and less important points as, for example, tipping.


The official Russian currency is the rouble, which is equal to 100 kopecks. The denominations of coins are 1, 5, 10 and 50 kopecks and 1, 2 and 5 roubles and notes of 10, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 roubles. The Russian rouble was rapidly devaluated during the Russian financial crisis in 1998, but today it is quite stable at approximately 30 roubles for one dollar and 35 roubles for one euro. Note that prices for goods in Russia are often quoted not only in roubles, but also in dollars and sometimes in euros.


Crossing the Russian border you fill out a customs declaration, where you should declare valuable items and money you bring with you in Russia. You can freely bring money if it doesn't exceed $10,000. If your cash-in-hand is more than $1,000, the sum must be declared in writing. If you need to bring more than $10,000 in cash you will have to obtain a special form from the National Bank of Russia. The process can take up to several days. Note that you cannot leave the country with a sum more than stated in the declaration you have filled out upon arrival. There is a list of prohibited items you cannot import or export. The list includes weaponry, radioactive and other harmful materials; printed materials, films, records, scripts and other stuff containing propaganda of war, racism, discrimination, etc.


The best places to exchange currency of any foreign country for roubles are commercial banks, exchange offices and hotels. Most of banks are open from Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. till 5 p.m. Some of exchange offices are open round-the-clock.


Most hotels, shops and restaurants accept the major types of credit cards, including American Express, Visa and Diners Club. Sometimes you could be asked to show your passport or identifying documents, using a credit card. Nevertheless, be ready to have some cash at hand in case your credit card won't be accepted, because the troubles in using credit cards are not rare in Russia. There will be surely no need in local store credit cards, used in your country.


One can get money in local currency, using cash dispensers (ATM's), which are widely spread in Moscow. Note that depending on the Russian bank, which maintains a cash machine, you will be charged a 1%-4% commission fee.


Traveler's checks haven't become popular in Moscow yet, but some exchange offices and banks accept them. Note that you will be charged a commission fee for cashing a traveler's check.


Like any other megapolis in the world, Moscow is a quite dangerous city, and visitors should pay extra attention to their personal safety and take care of their belongings. Note that in the street or at the metro station you can be stopped by the regular police (the militsia), who patrol areas checking some peoples' documents. You'd better carry your passport and registered visa with you at all times just in case.


In restaurants, where waiters serve visitors, tipping is usually expected. In fast food restaurants, cafes or bars, where you order your food at a counter, there is no need in tipping. Usually tipping can be 5 to 10 % of your total bill.