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Stay in touch in Russia. Complete guide for tourists.

a laptop computer sitting on top of a wooden table

While traveling it is very important to stay in touch in Russia with your friends and family. It gets even crucial when you travel far from home. Thanks to modern technology and gadgets it is not that difficult to keep your beloved ones informed on how your holiday is going. Check out how to stay connected, smooth and easy, find internet and buy SIM card in our article.

Making a call in Russia 

telephone calls in Russia

If you like it old style and prefer to use a landline instead of making internet calls or bothering to buy a Russian SIM card, you are welcome to use instructions below. Keep in mind that any Russian phone number consists of 10 digits.

Your international mobile → landline in Russia

  •    007 (or +7)
  •    area code (from 3 to 5 digits depending on the region)
  •    local subscriber number (from 5 to 7 digits)

Your international mobile → mobile in Russia

  •    007 (or +7)
  •    local mobile number, which already includes mobile operator’s code (altogether 9 digits)

Russian landline → international call to another country (mobile/landline)

  •    8 and wait for a beep
  •    10
  •    Country code
  •    City code
  •    Local subscriber number

Russian landline → Russian mobile

  •    8
  •    local mobile number, which already includes mobile operator’s code (altogether 9 digits)

Russian landline → Russian landline in another region and Moscow

  •    8
  •    Area code (3 to 5 digits)
  •    Local subscriber number (7 digits). It may include a code of an area within a region or a town/village code. A total number of digits should not exceed 10.

Russian landline → Russian landline in the same city

  •    Just dial local subscriber number. Depending on the size of a town number of digits may vary from 5 to 7.

Russian mobile → Russian mobile

  •    Start with 8 or +7 (Note that if you try to save the number to use it in WhatsApp, save it with +7)
  •    local mobile number, which already includes mobile operator’s code (altogether 9 digits)

Russian mobile → Russian landline

  •    8
  •    Area code (3 to 5 digits)
  •    Local subscriber number (7 digits). It may include a code of an area within a region or a town/village code. A total number of digits should not exceed 10.

Russian mobile → International call

  •    “+”
  •    country code
  •    local subscriber number

You need to remember that the cost of a call depends on where you call. If you try to reach someone in another region or country, it will be always more expensive than calling within one city. Cost of calling from a Russian SIM card to landline or mobile numbers vary depending on your tariffs.

How to contact emergency services

If you find yourself in trouble, you may want to call Emergency service. Just dial 112 on your phone. You will be connected even if you have no balance on your SIM card or you have no SIM card at all. Emergency service operators speak Russian and English. Stay calm and try to explain the situation. An operator will try to give you a piece of advice or pass information to the required emergency service. Please remember that emergency service operators do not provide any information.
You can call an ambulance from:

  • a landline phone: 03 or 103;
  • a mobile phone: for all mobile operators – 103. In addition, MTS and Megafon, 030; Beeline, 003; Tele2, 30.


Why get a Russian SIM card

a woman using a cell phoneYou may want to use your own SIM card while you are in Russia. Your phone will connect automatically to an available network. The mobile connection coverage in Russia is wide, so you will not have problems with that. But think twice before you actually start doing that, as it may get very expensive. We recommend much cheaper way to stay in touch in Russia. Buy a Russian SIM card. Another enormous advantage of having a local SIM card is Internet access. You can always connect to WiFi, but often in order to connect to a hotspot you need to register with an SMS, and only Russian numbers would work. On top of that in every other mobile app like apps for ordering taxi or food delivery, you will have to go through a registration process, which will require a Russian number, too.


How to choose a mobile provider

There are many mobile providers to stay in touch in Russia. The biggest ones are Megafon, MTS, and Beeline. Their logos are bright (Megafon – green; Beeline – yellow and black; MTS – red and white) and easy to be spotted from a distance. YOTA is another provider, which is popular in big cities, but not so much in the regions. On the opposite Tele2 is one of the most popular providers outside of Moscow and Saint Petersburg.



Where can you buy a SIM card

You can find mobile providers counters or shops in airports, train stations, in shopping centers. SIM cards can also be purchased in stores where mobile phones are sold, such as Evroset or Svyaznoy. The average price of a SIM card varies from 300 to 500 RUB. If you decide to buy a SIM card, be ready to show your passport. Giving your passport details for getting a SIM card is a regular procedure both for the Russians and for foreigners, so no need to worry about that. Cost of a SIM card differs, but often this money is put charged to your SIM so you can start using it right away.


What mobile plan to choose and how to top up

There are various mobile plans offered by different providers, but actually, the majority of them are quite similar. You can consult with a shopping assistant at a counter or in a store where you have bought a SIM card. You can also check a mobile provider’s website or download an app.
As for topping up, you can top up your SIM card through the provider’s website, an app as almost every mobile provider has an app both for Android and iOS, in mobile phones shops, or through the machines. Top up machines are widespread and very easy to use. You can spot these machines in almost every supermarket or even on the streets. Just click on an icon of your mobile operator and follow the instructions on the screen. Though you may have to pay a service fee for using the machine.

Mobile phone stores

As an alternative, you can always stop by mobile phones stores and ask at the counter to top up your phone. Shop assistants can always help you with that. Look for Evroset or Svyaznoy stores for that. If you use a prepaid SIM card, make sure you always have some money left on your balance, so you do not stay disconnected. If you use a tariff with a credit option, be aware that the cost of your calls and SMS increases once you leave a region. For example, it is not expensive to call from Moscow to Moscow but can get quite pricy if you try to call from Moscow to Sochi or Saint Petersburg. Some providers, like YOTA, just sell a package of minutes and GB of Internet for a month, and regardless of where you call in Russia, they will just count down minutes left in your package.
Be aware that regardless of what provider or package you choose, there always will be roaming for making international calls. Roaming prices are usually quite high. So perhaps it will be a good idea to choose a package, which includes good Internet deal. This way you can call back home by using messengers, Facetime or even Facebook.



Where to connect to WiFi

a man sitting at a table with a laptopInternet is vital to stay in touch in Russia. Latest statistics show that 81% of Russian citizens are Internet users, and 97% of the Russians, aged 18-24, use the Internet daily. No wonder these numbers are this high, as it is very easy to find free WiFi in Moscow. Every restaurant, coffee shop, or even McDonald’s offer free WiFi, to which you can connect in a few seconds. WiFi is also available in public places like parks, train stations, airports, and public transport, including underground. In order to connect, search for MT_Free network on the list. When you try to connect for the first time, you will have to go through the registration process in order to continue using public Internet. For that, you will need to request a verification code, which will be sent to you via SMS and enter it to the suggested form.
Public WiFi is really fast in Moscow and the connection is fairly stable. You can make a call to your friends and family even while you are on a train going from one underground station to another. So as you see no obstacles to stay in touch in Russia!

Enjoy your holidays and keep your friends posted, when you travel to Russia! For now, you know the answer to a question: How to stay in touch in Russia and be happy!