Find out what currency is used in Russia and what payment methods exist. You will know how tax-free works in Russia and get our advice on using banks, ATMs and exchanging currency, as well as tips on tipping.
Currency in Russia
What is Russian currency like?
Russia’s national currency is the rubble (symbol: ₽), which is sub-divided into 100 kopeika.
Coins come in denominations of 1, 5, 10 and 50 kopeika’s, ₽1, ₽2, ₽5 and ₽10, and you get notes in 50, 100, 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000 and 5,000.
Where to change money in Russia?
There are many places you can change money in Russia:
- Currency exchange offices in airports and in international trains;
Note that street kiosks which offer the service are currently illegal in Russia. Remember to check commission rates as they may vary, so it is worth shopping around.
Which currency is better to take with you to Russia?
We recommend to take some cash with you along with a credit/debit card. Take US dollars or euros as not all banks have pound sterling exchange service.
Credit & debit cards
What cards can I use in Russia?
Credit and debit cards are widely accepted in Russia, contactless payment is gaining popularity, too. We recommend to notify your home bank about your trip to Russia to avoid getting your card blocked when you make purchases in Russia.
Does every place accept credit cards?
Some small shops, guest houses, cafes and street food kiosks may not accept credit cards. In St Petersburg and Moscow more and more small grocery shops accept card payment.
Tax-free shopping in Russia
In April 2018 tax-free shopping system has been introduced in Russia. It is expected that from January 2019 the largest airports will fully support the tax free system.
How much is the VAT?
VAT amount is 18%.
Who is eligible for tax free?
Tourists from outside Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) countries – Armenia, Belorussia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan – can get the tax amount back provided they have spent 10,000 Russian rubbles and above (~ £114).
How does tax-free shopping at the moment?
When you make a purchase in one of the shops offering tax free, take a receipt to be able to claim your money back.
Show the receipt at an airport – or to in-train currency exchange official service on board of international train to Russia such as Allegro – along with your ID documents. After customs officials stamp your receipt you should place it in a designated tax-free box. The tax amount will be transferred to your bank account.
Which Russian airports support tax free?
The following airports support the tax free system:
- Moscow Sheremetyevo;
- Moscow Domodedovo;
- St Petersburg Pulkovo;
- Sochi Airport;
- Vladivostok Airport
© Street Art Museum
Tipping in Russia
Russia does not have a long tradition of tipping. Although tipping is not expected, it is always appreciated, especially if you enjoyed the service at a Russian restaurant or a cafe.
Tipping taxi drivers
It is customary to round the fare amount to the nearest 100 rubbles (~£1).
Tipping at a restaurant
A tip of around 10-15% is standard if you are happy with the food and the service. Some restaurants followed a European model and included service charge in the bill so check if this is the case before tipping.
Banking while in Russia
For security reasons let your bank know that you are travelling to Russia. There are many banks in Russian cities including international bank branches. UK banks are represented by HSBC offices.
© New Holland
Where to find a cash machine
There are many cash machines and ATM across Russia – find them in banks, supermarkets, shopping centres, in the underground stations, at railway stations and at hotels. Most of them have on-screen instructions in several languages. Some of them will have a small charge for cash withdrawals.
To locate the closest one, ask for a bankomat – Russian word for cash dispensers.