St Petersburg is the second largest city in Russia. With a population of over 5 million people and a surface area of some 600 sq... read more
Travelling to Russia for IVF Treatment
Undergoing IVF treatment is a step which should never be taken lightly. The stress involved in the process has been well documented, as has the time and money it is necessary to invest. All of which means that it is vital to learn everything you can about the clinics you’re thinking of visiting. We’ve gathered together the kind of information you’ll need to choose a clinic which is perfect for you.
Increasingly, people are choosing to go abroad in order to receive IVF treatment. If this is something which interests you, it is strongly advised that you read up on your chosen destination before making the trip. Information on aspects such as travelling to the country in question, and how to get around once you get there, will make it easier to plan and budget for your journey. Careful planning will allow you to relax whilst travelling and maybe even explore the sites and amenities of your destination. Travelling to Russia for IVF treatment will never be a holiday, exactly, but anything which makes the process less stressful is likely to increase the chances of success.
To make this easier, we’re providing useful information on the following:
the Russian cities in which featured IVF clinics are based
travelling to and around Russia
the option of putting your entire booking in the hands of a dedicated travel and tourism specialist.
Air travel options
The sheer size of Russia means that there are International airports located across the length and breadth of the country. The fact that many offer domestic flights to other parts of Russia means that it should be a simple matter to arrange a journey to the IVF clinic of your choice, even if it is not possible to find a direct flight. The largest airport in Russia is Sheremetyevo International Airport, located 29km from the capital of Moscow, which handled more than 31m passengers in 2015. This is also the main hub for Aeroflot, one of the oldest airlines in the world and the largest in the country. Aeroflot flights to Russia land from cities across the world, and also fly out to other Russian cities such as Saint Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod. It should be noted that the long haul nature of most flights to Russia means that it is not well served by budget airlines and that, depending upon where you’re flying from, it may be trickier to book a direct flight.
Russia by Road
In Russia, the federal highways are like motorways in other countries, with many of them linking the city of Moscow with other large Russian cities. Roads of this kind are designated by the letter M and a number, as in the M2 which runs 720 km from Moscow to the Crimea. Whilst these M roads can often be very congested, particularly during rush hour, they are maintained in better condition than the smaller roads which run outside the major cities. The speed limits on Russian roads are as follows:
60 km per hour in residential areas
90 km per hour beyond residential areas
100 km per hour on motorways
Drivers who have had their licence for less than two years are only allowed to drive at 70 km per hour. The Russian police are renowned for making spot checks of vehicles, and it is against the law to drive without carrying the following documentation:
a full driving licence
an international driving permit
proof of insurance
proof of ID such as a passport
proof of ownership if you’re driving your own car
a Russian VISA.
Other laws on driving in Russia include:
It is illegal to pick up hitchhikers
Headlights must be turned on at all times but dipped during the day
Winter tyres must be fitted in winter
Seatbelts must be worn by all passengers.
It is against the law to drive a car which is so dirty that the number plate is obscured.
Failure to comply with any of the above laws could result in the police handing down a large on the spot fine, and it is also compulsory to carry the following:
a warning triangle to display in the event of a breakdown
headlamp beam deflectors if driving a right-hand drive car
a first aid kit and fire extinguisher
a high visibility vest to be worn in the event of a breakdown.
Russia by Rail
The fairly poor state of some of the roads in Russia means that many people opt to travel by train instead. The Russian rail network is the second largest in the world, boasting 87,157 km of track. Whilst local trains known as ‘elektrichka’ are ideal for commuting within large cities such as Moscow and St Petersburg, the journey between cities is so long that it means taking an overnight train. Plans are in place to introduce high speed ‘bullet trains’ across the Russian rail network. The only route to offer the service so far is the Moscow to St Petersburg line, along which the futuristic ‘Sapsan’ train reaches maximum speeds of 250 km/h. Seats on a Sapsan train can be booked in a Conference Cabin, in Premium Class, Business Class or Economy Class, and even the cheapest seats offer airline style levels of comfort.
Tickets for overnight trains can be purchased online or in person at a railway station reservation office. You will need to show your passport, even for a domestic rail journey, and reservations can be made from 45 days in advance of the date of the journey. The three main types of long-distance train running in Russia are as follows:
Firmeny – the most expensive trains, offering the highest levels of comfort
Skory – a less expensive but less luxurious alternative to a Firmeny train
Passazhirsky – ordinary passenger trains which are slower and less comfortable than the other options
Tickets for the overnight trains can be purchased in:
1st class (Spalny Vagon), which offers the comfort and privacy of a 2-bed compartment
2nd class (Kupé), which may mean sharing a 4-bed compartment
3rd class (Platskartny), which consists of open plan coaches containing 54 individual bunk beds
The last is recommended for those who are working to a strict budget or wish to gain a genuine insight into everyday Russian life.
Travel to Russia means taking steps to ensure your good health is maintained for the length of your stay. You are advised to get vaccinations for hepatitis A and B and to ensure that your vaccinations for tetanus-diphtheria and MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) are up to date. Travellers spending time beyond the larger cities are also advised to think about being vaccinated for typhoid, rabies and Japanese encephalitis. If you are in any doubt, then seek the advice of a medical professional. Your own IVF clinic in Russia will be able to help as well, having dealt with the same issues many times in the past.
From January 2016 the health care agreement between the UK and Russia ceased to operate. Any UK nationals should therefore take out full travel insurance. In addition to this, nationals from the countries below are required to show proof of travel insurance when applying for a visa to visit Russia:
Anyone travelling to Russia for IVF treatment must be sure that the travel insurance they have covers all eventualities. If you are in any doubt, then please seek the advice of an expert. In the event of a medical emergency, while visiting Russia, the number to dial is 112.
You need to apply for a visa before your trip to Russia. Although VFS Global, the company which handles applications for Russian Visas, aims to deal with them within 5 working days, you should assume that it may take longer than this, particularly during busy periods. Do not leave applying for a visa until the last minute. No travel expenses will be reimbursed if your visa application is turned down or arrives too late.
Once you have your visa, check details such as the dates of travel and passport numbers. A standard tourist visa is valid for one month and allows the holder to enter and exit the country a maximum of two times. Since you will not be allowed to enter Russia before the visa starts, and will have to leave before it expires, it is sensible to add a few days before and after your chosen travel dates.
A valid visa will not be accepted if your passport has expired. You should carry ID with you at all times whilst in Russia. Upon boarding your flight to Russia, or arriving in the country, you will be issued with an Immigrant Card, and you should also keep this on your person. If you are staying in Russia for longer than a week you will have to register with the Federal Migration Service. This can be done through your accommodation, or by filling in the forms at a post office and posting them to the Federal Migration Service. All travellers must be able to produce tickets for return or onward travel as well as any documents required for the journey. Whilst the rules state that your passport should be valid for the length of your stay, it is recommended that it is actually valid for six months. This is to take account of the fact that immigration officials on the ground often apply stricter rules than those of by official sources.
UK citizens must have a valid passport and a visa.
US citizens must have a valid passport and a visa.
Canadian citizens must have a valid passport and a visa.
Australian citizens must have a valid passport and a visa.
South African must have a valid passport and a visa.
Irish nationals must have a valid passport and a visa.
New Zealand nationals must have a valid passport and a visa.
Most visits to Russia pass without any trouble but places such as Moscow and St Petersburg suffer their fair share of petty street crime. This is particularly true in crowded places such as tourist hot spots and major transport hubs. Visitors are advised to look out for thieves willing to take advantage of any lapse in concentration. Tourists have sometimes been targeted by gangs of thieves who work together to cause a distraction and then pickpockets. Any money you carry with you will be safer in a money belt or wrist pouch than tucked into your pocket. You should try to avoid carrying obviously expensive items. There have also been cases of foreign tourists being ‘scammed’ by bogus policemen. Make sure you always ask to see ID if the police wish to speak to you. Passports are targeted by thieves, so you should always know exactly where yours is. This is particularly true if you’re passing through a large transport hub and have to show your passport to purchase tickets or confirm reservations. Provided you are sensible and vigilant, your trip to Russia should be free from criminal incidents of any kind.
UK – British Embassy, Moscow +7 495 234 4060
USA – United States Embassy, Moscow +7 495 728-5000
Canada – Canadian Embassy, Moscow +7 495 925-6000
Australia – Australian Embassy, Moscow +7 495 956 6070
South Africa – South African Embassy, Moscow +7 095 540 11 77
Eire – Irish Embassy, Moscow +7-495-937 59 11
New Zealand – New Zealand Embassy, Moscow + 7-495-956-3579
SPECIALIST TRAVEL HELP for your treatment abroad
You may like the idea of someone else dealing with the stress of organising flights, hotels and transport within Russia for your IVF treatment, in which case Travel Counsellors represent the ideal solution. Travel Counsellors are one of the biggest travel agencies in the World. They have an award-winning global network of friendly travel agents with one simple aim – to take away the stress involved in planning travel abroad.
Fertility Clinics Abroad have provided the details below of a UK representative who can assist, should you wish, with helping you organise your trip abroad.
Andy Gilhooly is a Gold Travel Counsellor with many years of experience in the industry.
I am available to talk whenever you are – daytime, evenings or weekends. I really care about your individual needs and desires and will do everything I can to help you realise them. It’s what keeps my hundreds of customers coming back to me year after year.
Get in touch today on the details below and I will give you options and advice for all your travel requirements.