After you have landed in Moscow you will immediately enter passport control, where your passport, visa and migration card (completed at passport control) will be checked and stamped by a member of the border patrol. You must keep the migration card with your passport and visa for the duration of your stay, and turn it in at passport control when you leave the country. Getting through passport control can take up to an hour, depending on how many other flights arrive at the same time as yours.
After your passport, visa, and migration card have been checked, you will then complete a customs declaration (only if you have items that need to be declared – see below), collect your luggage at the carousel, and proceed with your luggage, passport, and declaration to the customs line. All luggage is technically subject to examination, although detailed inspections nowadays seem to be the exception rather than the rule.
Filling out customs declaration is necessary if you have cash/traveler’s checks in excess of $10,000 or are carrying musical instruments as well as items of special value such as jewelery containing precious stones. All musical instruments must also be declared. It can cause major complications and forfeiture of undeclared items if you are careless in filling out the customs declaration.
If you are carrying any of the above-mentioned items (including musical instruments) with you, you must go through the Red (“something to declare”) customs line. Your declaration will be returned to you after it has been examined and stamped by the customs agent. Make sure it is stamped by a customs official. Customs officials may tell you that you don’t need a stamp on your form, but insist on one and don’t leave customs until you get back your declaration. Keep this declaration in a safe place so that you can present it again when you leave the country. (Otherwise you will not be allowed to take your musical instruments out of Russia.) Middlebury College School in Russia staff cannot help students who don’t have properly filled out customs forms.
If you plan to bring any new, non-U.S.-made articles of value, such as cameras, MP3 players, computers, bicycles, or jewelry that are less than six months old, you should register them with U.S. Customs and Border Protection before departure (CBP Form 4457). Alternately, you can carry your original sales receipts to prove that you purchased them in the U.S. This avoids your having to pay a duty upon your return. Customs regulations vary from country to country; there are usually limitations on liquor, cigarettes, and other goods.
Students who do not have musical instruments, or more than $10,000 in cash/traveler’s checks may exit through the Green (“nothing to declare”) line. Your customs declaration will not be examined or stamped and you are allowed to walk straight through to the exit. Please note: these procedures will be different if you arrive in Russia by train.