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Business Travel

Business Customs

The Russian market is extremely competitive. Salesmanship is a key factor and U.S. firms should be prepared to describe the competitive advantages and factors that distinguish them in the marketplace.

Establishing a personal relationship with business partners is a critical factor in the successful negotiation of major projects, government procurement or in developing long-term business relationships. Scheduling meetings with potential Russian business partners can be challenging. It may take weeks to get a response to an email, fax or a telephone request for a meeting. Once contact has been established, patience may still be required to confirm a date and time to meet. U.S. business visitors to Moscow or St. Petersburg are advised to factor traffic into scheduling.

Russian language ability is a must and an interpreter should be hired if necessary. An increasing number of Russian businesspeople speak a courtesy level of English; however, many prefer to conduct business discussions in Russian. The U.S. Commercial Service can arrange for the services of qualified interpreters.

Business cards are important and are exchanged freely. Cards should have regular contact information and an email address and web site if available. Most foreign businesspeople in Russia carry bilingual English/Russian business cards (one side English, the other Russian).

Promotional materials in Russian are an important tool for creating interest in a company’s products in the Russian market. It is very important that the translation be accurate and of high quality. Many companies interested in the Russian market have used on-line translation services for translation of their promotional material, only to learn that the translation was inferior and did not serve the intended purpose. For the best results, it is highly recommended that professional translation services be used. The U.S. Commercial Service can recommend fully qualified translators upon request. The Commercial Service has started identifying business service providers in Russia in different categories that are known by our team and/or U.S. companies in the market. Please check out this link to see if any professional interpreters are listed that may be of interest.

Travel Advisory

The State Department issues Travel Alerts and Warnings when warranted by local conditions. If you are traveling to Russia, please refer to the Country-Specific Information (CSI) for the Russian Federation at:


and consider enrolling your travel with the Department of State in order to receive e-mail updates. The CSI is updated regularly and contains key information for travelers regarding security and safety, health, visa and immigration regulations, and general travel information about the Russian Federation.

Travel Tips

Hotels: While world-class tourist and business facilities exist in Moscow and St. Petersburg, they are under-developed in much of Russia, and many goods and services taken for granted in other countries are not yet available. Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Kazan, Nizhniy Novgorod, Nizhnevartovsk, Perm, Samara, Perm, Sochi, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, and Vladivostok, among other cities, have Western-style hotels, though often priced at a premium compared with other major cities of the world. Outside major cities, traditional Russian hotels offer modest accommodations at modest rates. Some regional hotels raise rates for foreign guests. It is possible to find well-appointed hotels in some small towns; it is equally possible to be temporarily without water or electricity when visiting some regions of Russia. Please see this link for a list of hotels with which our team frequently works.

Clothing: Russian businessmen and women predominately wear business suits. For women, dresses, skirts or pants are acceptable. Winters can be extremely cold in Russia with occasional temperatures in the minus-20 Fahrenheit range in northern and Siberian cities; Moscow and St. Petersburg can be quite cold as well, with temperatures in the teens Fahrenheit. Winter clothes may be needed as early as October or as late as May. During the winter months people dress for warmth. Travelers are advised to bring boots or other protective footwear, as streets and sidewalks in winter are frequently slushy or icy. Summers, while brief, can be surprisingly hot, and air conditioning is still rare outside big-city hotels and offices.

Food: The recent ruble depreciation has made dining out in Moscow and St. Petersburg more affordable, in line with major U.S. cities. Russian food can be bland to American tastes, while many visitors find Caucasian, Georgian and Uzbek cuisines to be interesting contrasts. Asian food is becoming increasingly popular, and sushi restaurants are pervasive. Regardless of the city or hotel, bottled water served with no ice is recommended. Tips are generally 10% of the bill for good service.

Mail Services: The following companies, with offices in Moscow, offer priority mail services between the United States and Russia:

  • DHL
  • Federal Express
  • Pony Express
  • TNT
  • UPS

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