In addition to its earlier travel warning, the Department of State is providing U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Russia more information related to the XXII Winter Olympic Games and XI Paralympic Games taking place in and around Sochi, Russia, from February 7 to February 23, 2014, and March 7 to March 16, 2014.
The new fact sheet provides information regarding the current conditions within the country to U.S. citizens as they consider traveling to Russia for the Games. Travelers should use the information and resources to have a safe and enjoyable Olympics experience, State said.
Ensure you have a valid U.S. Passport. If your passport will expire before or during your trip, renew it now. Don’t forget to sign your passport and complete the emergency information page. Note: To be issued a Russian visa, your passport must be valid for at least six months after your departure date from Russia. State recommends that passports be valid until at least October 16, 2014.
U.S. citizens are required to have a visa for travel to Russia. Ticket holders for Olympic events will not be exempt from the visa regime currently in place between Russia and the United States, State said. Travelers should make travel plans and apply for visas well in advance. As of December 1, spectators may receive one-month visas with same-day processing upon presenting a ticket for Games events or confirmation of ticket purchase. Information about applying for such visas is available on the website of the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C.
State urges travelers to check their overseas medical insurance coverage to ensure they are covered abroad and have coverage for medical evacuation should medical evacuation be necessary.
"Travelers should be aware that the Olympics are the first large-scale event to be held in Sochi and medical capacity and infrastructure in Sochi are untested for handling the volume of visitors expected for the Olympics."
Enroll with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), State says. This will enable the Embassy to keep travelers up to date with important safety and security announcements, and help friends and family get in touch in an emergency. Travelers can enroll online at www.state.gov.
State urges travelers to use the Department’s Country Specific Information page on travel to Russia . This page is updated frequently and provides current information about traveling in Russia, State notes.
Among the helpful websites and resources, cited by the State Department are:
- Official Sochi 2014 Website (in English): Information on the Opening & Closing Ceremonies, sporting venues, accommodations, accessibility, ticket sales for foreigners living outside Russia.
- Official ticket reseller: CoSport is the official ticket reseller for the Sochi 2014 Olympics for U.S. residents.
- U.S. Embassy Moscow Website: Information regarding services the Embassy offers to U.S. citizens, security and travel information and fraud warnings.
- Department of State Travel Website: Latest travel warnings, international travel tips and information regarding the STEP registration process.
- Team USA/U.S. Olympic Committee Website: Site features athlete bios, merchandise and more.
Earlier the State Dept. warned of shortages of hotel rooms, terrorism, crime and Russian laws impacting the LGBT community traveling to Sochi.