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Money Transfers for Expats in Russia

Submitted: December 2013

Unlike a common belief in the West, Russia is committed to liberalising its economy. Consequently, there are no restrictions on money transfers to and from Russia since 2006. It should also be noted that Russian policymakers have so far refrained from re-imposing capital controls in the 2008 financial crisis and in the 2012-2013 recession.

The easiest way is transfer money to Russia is to have a Russian bank account opened, and then to proceed with an international bank transfer. Alternatively, you can withdraw money from a cash dispenser in Russia, at least as a temporary solution.

Russia is not the toughest country when it comes to opening bank accounts, for so long as you have a valid visa and travel documents. Some banks may be happy to open bank accounts for non-residents, but not all. However, opening an account from overseas is best done several weeks in advance.

It is also possible to ask your overseas bank to issue a cheque, which can then be cleared in a Russian bank account. This process is quite lengthy though, and it may be expensive.

In any case, it is advisable to check if your financial intermediary is reliable enough, be it in terms of quality of service or value for money.


Your bank is likely to charge you for transfers to a Russian account and international cheques, although fees may vary greatly. You might wish to check the applicable charges and restrictions at your bank.

Alternatively, you can use the services of a money transfer company. To save money, you can also use a price comparison website specialised in money transfers. Typically, your charges are largely passed on to the applicable foreign exchange rate.

The fees charged by a company specialised in money transfers are without prejudice to the fees that your bank may charge on transfers to the money transfer company.

Cash control rules

You are free to carry with you as much cash as you like when you cross the Russian border. Nonetheless, you must declare this to the customs authority if the aggregate amount exceeds US$10,000 (or currency equivalent).

To this end, cash includes hard currency and traveller’s cheques, but not international wire transfers.



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