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Northern Asia Topics specific to Russia, Central Asia (also known as "the 'stans"), Mongolia, Japan and Korea
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  #1  
Old 28 Mar 2008
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Paris to Vladivostok: advice needed

Hi all,

I have semi planned a trip from France to Vlad and back (Europe, Turkey, Caucasus (Georg-Arm-Azer), Iran, Stans (excluding Paki- and Afghan-), China, Mongolia, maybe Nepal, Russia), from may to august on my old KLR, but I am lost in the paperwork required.

Searching through the forums I made some useful discoveries but would like to confirm and get additional information, and here seems one of the best places to ask for it, helpful answers and available guys.

What do I need?

- International Driver's Licence : check

- Carnet de Passage : read that it is required for Iran, but if I skip the country, do I still need a CDP?

- Insurance : seems you can get it at borders. Is there any other way? What's the cost?

- Russian visa : read it's a mess to get and you need to justify every night you spend in the country. How do you people do to be allowed to ride a bike there?

- China : I just discovered here that it's a big no-no. I guess I'll have to scrap that

- GPS / Maps: I got Reise Know-How maps but couldn't lay my hands on anything covering Eastern Russia. GPS seemed to be hard to smug... get into Russia. Any confirmation?

- Gas : is it a problem to get?

- Rock solid butt and love for dirt : check

- Tight budget : check
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  #2  
Old 28 Mar 2008
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Don't know about the other countries, but I can give you some tips for Russia... Did Vladivostok to London last year.

Step 1. Check your passport. Is it valid for the entire length of the trip plus at least 6 months after the date of your return? DO THIS RIGHT NOW

Step 2. Do you have enough pages in your passport for all of the visas needed, plus a few spare for stamps? DO THIS RIGHT NOW.

Step 3. Go to WayToRussia.Net - A Guide to Russia and Travel Services Directory - Moscow and St. Petersburg Guide, Trans-Siberian, Baikal, Russian visa, apartment rentals and more and apply for a bussiness visa. You will be free to roam wherever you like. You just need to pay the money. When they ask why you'll be going to Russia, say that you'll be looking for investment opportunities or whatever you like. They will ask you for the first 6 cities that you intend to visit. Read the info here: Types of Russian visa and Russian visa laws: a tourist russian visa, a business visa, a student visa, a personal visa, a short 72 hour visa, transit visa -- WayToRussia.Net Guide to Russia

Step 4. Get an HIV test and note from your doctor (include doctors contact details - and preferably a stamp!) to say you don't have HIV.

Step 5. Photocopy everything.

Step 6. Send money (most important), invite, passport, HIV test and application form (probably available from embassy website) to your embassy. Also include a registered post bag if you want your passport to be returned via registered post.

Step 7. Nervously await return of passport.

Step 8. Assemble documents.
8.1 International Driving Permit.
8.2 Home country drving licence.
8.3 Passport containng visa
8.4 Motorcycle registration and ownership documents.
8.5 Something to show you've paid your road tax in the country where your vehicle is registered.
8.6 Your HIV certificate
8.7 Photocopy of your invite (the embassy will keep the original - be sure to get a copy beforehand).
8.8 Bank statement showing that you've got enough money in your account to realistically be able to survive in Russia for the time specified on your visa.
8.9 Home embassy contact details. Other contact details. Credit card (visa is the most useful) some cash, a few US dollars.
8.10 Receipts for any items of value or perceived value

Step 9. Ride to Russian border and fill out declaration in duplicate. Make sure that both forms are exactly the same - this form is available in English and includes sections on your vehicle, cash that you're carrying and other valuables. Be ecconomical with what you put!

Step 10. You may need to pay a "Service fee" at this point. Best not to offer unless they specifically ask.

Step 11. Your customs guy will enter details into the computer and print off a certificate saying that you are temporaraly allowed to drive in Russia. We got a certificate that expired on the same day as our visa, so did not have to get it renewed. Other people that we met only got certificates that lasted for two weeks and they had to apply at the police station to get it exteneded. In particular we met a couple of Germans who spent most of their holiday looking for the right office to get their vehicle documents extended. If they only give you a two week ticket, ask if you can get it for longer. This may cost you some money.

Step 12. Purchase insurance. Don't even bother trying to get insurance before you get to Russia. Insurance in Russia is not what it is in Europe and isn't taken very seriously. We never got asked for our insurance papers. Don't worry about it. There's a good chance that your insurance won't be worth the paper its printed on. When I asked the insurance lady about claims (while filling out the documents) she advised me not to have an accident. Insurance is a European/North American invention if you get my drift.

Step 13. Ride to a hotel for your first night and register.

Step 14. Ride around wherever you want.

Step 15. After 2 to 3 weeks, ride to a hotel and register.

Step 16. Repeat steps 14 and 15.

Step 16. Ride to hotel on last night in country and register.

YOU DO NOT NEED A CDP

Other points - gas is everywhere.

Check my GPS waypoints on my previous post It has locations of over 150 gas stations and a whole lot of other useful info. My range was 210 km tops and I rarely went beyond 150.

GPS map: go to Smellybiker's Wanderlust Worldmap • Index page and purchase bob's world map. Best money you'll ever spend. (Provided you have a garmin mapping unit such as the GPSMAP60CSx of course!)

GPS in Russia 100% legal. Garmin and other units can be purchased in any city. The cops and locals love gps. They yell 'Sputnik Sputnik' every time you pull it out. Don't need to do no smuggling.

Things you don't want to take:

1. Heaps of cash. ATM's will accept most credit cards anywhere. Otherwise hotels and banks will be able to give you an advance on your credit card. Cirrus and Maestro cards also work at most ATM's.
2. Things you can't afford to loose. E.g you great grandfathers watch. Buy a cheap digital unit for the trip.
3. Expensive electronics e.g .cameras, laptops. Dust and water gets into everything. It is unavoidable. Unless IP67 rated, forget it.
4. Guns
5. Drugs.

You will get searched. Do not take anything illegal or that could cause embarrassment.

A very good map is the 'Auto atlas of Russia'. Available at most of the bigger gas stations. Of course you want to look at the map before you go.

Go to Russia maps from Omni Resources, world leader in map supply. search the page for 65-31904 The map is about $40.

The map has got a red cover.

Good luck!

Please email me and I'll give you some more details about the documents.

russiantraverse <AT> gmail <DOT> com
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  #3  
Old 28 Mar 2008
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I read somewhere here that an HIV test certificate isn't actually needed for visa apps - only for work permits. Can't remember which thread though.

Hope to be applying for a business visa myself later this year - assuming all goes well.
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  #4  
Old 29 Mar 2008
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Wow, thanks for the extensive information provided, more than I expected !

One more question though, I will need to do the following: Ukraine - Russia - Kazakhstan - Russia - Mongolia - Russia

Which means 3 entries, and if the info on visatorussia.com is to be believed, I can only get a double entry visa as it's the first time I will apply for a Russian visa.

Do you reckon I will be get able to get a visa from Mongolia? There is an embassy in Ulan Bator, so it seems to me it should be possible...
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  #5  
Old 29 Mar 2008
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Nostro, I have exactly the same problem.

I understand getting a Russian visa in Mongolia is just about impossible therefore I've changed my itinerary so as to only go in to Russia twice.

My current schedule is Vietnam -> China -> Mongolia -> China -> Russia -> Kazakhstan -> Uzbekistan -> Kazakhstan -> Russia -> Finland -> Norway -> Sweden -> Denmark -> Germany -> Czech Republic -> Slovakia -> Hungary -> Yugoslavia -> Croatia -> Italy and ship back to Australia from Palermo.

Garry from Oz.
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  #6  
Old 29 Mar 2008
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Ah, bad news there...

How can you go through China? It would surely solve my problems if could cross from Kazakhstan to Mongolia via China, but I read somewhere on the HUBB that you need a guide or something to go to China, and can't wander on your own... How did you plan that?
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  #7  
Old 29 Mar 2008
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Nostro, see my other thread http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hub...ting-buy-33724

My original plan was to ship my bike to Vietnam and ride from there into China then into Mongolia and Russia. However, it looks like this is not possible so I wil ship my bike to Vladivostok, fly to Vietnam and cross into China and buy a local Chinese bike in Nanning before selling it in Northern China. I am taking a risk that I will not get stopped because I will not have a local Chinese licence, but at least I will not have the problem of getting a bike into China.

Garry from Oz.
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  #8  
Old 29 Mar 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nostro View Post
Wow, thanks for the extensive information provided, more than I expected !

One more question though, I will need to do the following: Ukraine - Russia - Kazakhstan - Russia - Mongolia - Russia

Which means 3 entries, and if the info on visatorussia.com is to be believed, I can only get a double entry visa as it's the first time I will apply for a Russian visa.

Do you reckon I will be get able to get a visa from Mongolia? There is an embassy in Ulan Bator, so it seems to me it should be possible...
My six month business visa from waytorussia allowed an indefinite number of entries and exits. Don't know if the rules have changed but I doubt it. I know that you can easily get a Mongolian visa from Ulan-Ude in Russia. Don't know about the other way round.

Get the HIV test in any case. It doesn't cost anything to get a test, and if they decide they want it, then you've got it, so it's no loss.

The thing about Russia is that nobody really knows the rules. Don't get too hung up. It is very friendly, relaxed and easy going. You'll get stopped by the cops, but only because the cops are all young guys who like to have a chat and talk about your motorbike.

I know exactly what is going through your mind, I had the same problem last year. I was stressing out badly. In the end the trip went perfectly. People were very helpful, we were given food and accommodation in nearly every city and did not have a single problem with police and border guards. About the worst thing is that I got a $5 fine for going 17 kph over the posted speed limit, so I guess that was my own fault.


Cheers,

Mark
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  #9  
Old 30 Mar 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bartman10 View Post
My six month business visa from waytorussia allowed an indefinite number of entries and exits. Don't know if the rules have changed but I doubt it.
Hi Bartman, unfortunately the rules DID change in October last year. The new rules are no multi entry business visas, unless you have previously held a single or double entry visa and have travelled to Russia.

Garry from Oz.
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  #10  
Old 30 Mar 2008
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Bugger about the rule change.

It might be best to plan a route with two entries only, and try to get another visa on the road.... Good luck with that idea! But it could work.

Otherwise you'll need to choose between mongolia or kaz on this trip and go back later for more fun in the siberian mud!

Good luck.

Email me! bartman10 <AT> gmail <DOT> com

Cheers.

Mark.
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  #11  
Old 30 Mar 2008
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Nostro

A few points about Russia-
Insurance. The Police (and Customs) only accept a Certificate issued by a Russian Company irrespective of what outside insurance you may have. It is obtainable at travel agents close to borders. Last year 3 months motorcycle insurance cost me about GBP32 (Euro42). It is valid for within Russia all the time between the dates you bought for, including re-entry. But it is only basic Road liability insurance - it will not cover theft etc.

HIV. Only needed with Work Permit and Residency applications

GPS. No problem these days. They used to be forbidden but are allowed now. They are on sale everywhere here! Customs are still using up old forms which have not been updated. In Russia bureacracy adjusts far slower than changes in events and law, but they are aware on it

Multi Entry Visas. These used to allow you to remain in Russia for their entire period of validity buy recent changes mean my latest (4th) Full Year Multi Entry Business Visa is now restricted to being here only 90 days in any 180 days.

Entry Service Fee. Only for Customs if bringing in a vehicle and it is for the Vehicle Temperory Import Certificate that will be invariably be inspected often by Roads Police and must be surrendered to Border Customs on exit of the vehicle. 100-120 roubles - about GBP2 (Euro3). But they want it in roubles (fortunately I always have some).

Registration. The 'rule' is, within 3 working days (ie. excluding weekends and holidays) everyone must (should!) have a Registered address, and Police can (and in tourist areas like Red Square actually do) ask to see it. Even Russians visiting a different region SHOULD re-register, but this is largely ignored these days. Bartman's advice should see you through.

Maps. I am in Moscow right now, until wednesday. If you want me to get you some maps of eastern Russia, PM me and I will buy some and mail them to you from London at the end of the week.

Bureaucracy & Officialdom. Large remnants of a more oppressive era remain but slowly things are liberalising. Apart from ДПС (roads police) seeking to obtain fines (or preferably bribes!) for an undotted " i " or a document with a slight tear in it, each level is only concerned with their own little bit of responsibility, with no notice of what went before or comes after. For example, Visa applications need a Letter of Invitation - once the Ministry has received one and issued a Certificate, the Visa application Embassy does not look further back than the Ministry Certificate. Once a Visa is issued, no-one checks further back than the Visa in your Passport. For exit they only look to see if you had a valid entry stamp (and record of it in the computor).
It is the same everywhere. Just get the present step right and no-one cares about the others.

Except as in all cities around the World, the people are wonderfully friendly, even if generally unsmiling.
All people want in life is Peace, enjoyment and a better life for their children. It's the same the whole World over.

Enjoy.
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  #12  
Old 30 Mar 2008
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Thanks to 'All Above' for bringing the advice together in 1 thread. Great help.
I understand that I can't apply for my Business Visa until 45 days prior to the visa start date. I'm not sure if this is correct (Info from Way To Russia), ... but it adds additional admin hassels as I'm leaving UK 8 weeks before hitting Russia, .. so if anybody knows of a workable solution?

Thanks, .. Geoff
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  #13  
Old 31 Mar 2008
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Can't you just have the visa start before you plan on entering Russia?
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  #14  
Old 31 Mar 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by motoreiter View Post
Can't you just have the visa start before you plan on entering Russia?
Yep, that's the only way I coudl do it.

Garry from Oz.
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  #15  
Old 31 Mar 2008
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Also, just this morning submitted multi-entry visa application to the Russian embassy in Washington, DC. They didn't ask for the HIV certificate.
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