Useful Information for International Students

Instruction for International Students 2021-2022


Obtaining an invitation

You may collect the invitation in our office or request it to be sent to you by fax or express mail. An official invitation from SPbU will give you the right to obtain a Russian visa.   

Your visa will be issued with the following information:

  • Purpose of visit — STUDY
  • Receiving party (visa sponsor) — St Petersburg University

Once you have received the invitation, please check whether your name and other details set out in the invitation are correct. The spelling of your name in the invitation shall be identical to that in your passport and educational credentials.

The information provided by the International Admissions Committee is available on SPbU’s website in three languages:

Documents obtained upon arrival

Enrollment, student contract execution, registration of national passport.

As soon as you arrive, you should visit SPbU’s International Admissions Office:

Universitetskaya Emb., 13B, St Petersburg 199034, Russia

Phone: +7 812 328 32 91

Please be ready to provide the documents that will be needed to enroll you as a student, to execute a student contract and to register your national passport. Our employees will explain what you should do to execute a student contract and will answer any of your questions. If your arrive on a weekend or after office hours, please contact us beforehand so we could send you an accommodation permit for an SPbU hall of residence by e-mail.

Please note that you will have three days to register your national passport.

The documents required:

  • original educational credentials with supplement (the documents must be legalised according to the prescribed procedure and translated into Russian);
  • a copy of your national passport;
  • a TORFL certificate (The Test of Russian as a Foreign Language);
  • a health insurance;
  • four photos 3x4.

We recommend that you take the TORFL exam at our Language Testing Centre (11 Lieutenant Schmidt Nab., St. Petersburg)

Please note that some of our educational programmes are taught in English. If you wish to study on an English-taught programme, you should provide proof of your English language skills according to the entry requirements for a particular programme—either by passing our interview in English or providing a TOEFL or IELTS certificate.

Registration with Migration Service

On the day of arrival you should apply to SPbU’s Passport and Visa Support Department to get registered with the Migration Service.

Procedures for migration registration of foreign citizens

Procedures for issuing or extending a multiple visa for foreign citizens having entered the Russian Federation in the visa regime

Procedures for extending the period of stay for foreign citizens having entered the Russian Federation in the non-visa regime

Primary regardless of the length of stay in the above organisations

  • foreign citizens staying at the SPbU Halls of Residence shall contact the Passport and Visa Support Department to re-register their residence at St Petersburg University within 1 working day.
  • foreign citizens residing at private addresses shall contact their “receiving party” to re-register their residence at their residential address.

NB!!! A foreign citizen shall submit a copy of the notification of migration re-registration to employees of the Passport and Visa Support Department of St Petersburg University.

We notify you that migration registration is legal only if it is applied for at the address of your actual residence and received by the owner of the private premises through authorised organisations: the Multifunctional Centre (MFC), the Administration for Migration Issues of the General Administration of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Russian Post. Obtaining documents confirming your migration registration from third parties without being provided with a place of residence may lead to negative consequences for foreign citizens, up to and including expulsion from St Petersburg University and deportation from the Russian Federation.

Addresses of Passport and Visa Support Department:

Universiteskaya Emb., 7-9B (rector’s Wing), 1st floor, office 109-110

+7 (812) 363 64 03

Satellite office for applicants residing in Peterhof: Building 2, 66 Botanicheskaya Str., Hall of Residence No. 10, Office 103, tel. 428 47 58.

Recognition of educational credentials

Recognition comes in the form of a document proving your educational credentials are recognized by Russia’s law and entitle you to be admitted to Russia’s higher educational institutions.

To apply for recognition, you should complete an application and attach the following documents:

  • a copy of your main ID;
  • an original of duly legalised education document with supplement;
  • a translation of your education and/or qualification document with supplement — the translation must be certified according to the established procedure;
  • notarized translation of education document obtained at the previous level of education (for higher education documents).

No recognition is needed in the following circumstances:

  • a foreign education document is subject to an international agreement on mutual recognition of which Russia is a party;
  • a foreign degree corresponds to a level of education in Russia (the list of higher education institutions is laid down by Russia’s Government);
  • a degree was granted by a foreign education institution included into the list laid down by SPbU.



Upon enrollment, students receive a student ID and a record book at the Dean’s Office. Please have the student ID with you in all occasions — it allows both to enter SPbU’s campuses and to obtain discounts in many museums, theatres and cinema halls of St. Petersburg. 

You will also need your student ID and record book at tests and examinations.

The following grading scale is used in Russia’s schools and universities:

passed / not passed

  • 5 = excelled
  • 4 = good
  • 3 = satisfactory
  • 2 = unsatisfactory

The students who got a 2 (“unsatisfactory”) or a “not passed” at an examination session are entitled to resit the failed examination or pass/fail test twice. Those students who failed to pass examinations and/or pass/fail tests in three or more subjects will be expelled.

Halls of Residence

The University’s halls of residence provide accommodation to full-time students on university and non-university level higher education programmes.

The accommodation is provided to international students and Russian students from outside St Petersburg.

The halls of residence are located in three districts of the city:

  • Petrodvortsovy — 13 halls of residence
  • Vasileostrovsky — 8 halls of residence
  • Nevsky — 1 hall of residence

The halls of residence in Petrodvoretsovy District are located in a guarded and comfortable student campus within a walking distance from teaching buildings.

The student campus (infographics):

  • cafe
  • grocery stores
  • laundry
  • hairdresser’s
  • Hall of Culture and Science
  • medical aid facility
  • sports grounds
  •  children’s playgrounds

Undergraduate and master’s students are accommodated on Vasilyevsky Island and in Petrodvortsovy District (Peterhof), interns — on Vasilyevsky Island, doctoral students — in Peterhof.


Every SPbU applicant should have a health insurance that can be obtained in a foreign country or upon arrival in St Petersburg. The insurance must be valid in St Petersburg and Leningrad Region.

It also must contain the list of services covered, which must include both emergency and planned admission to hospital as well as medical repatriation — i.e., a full range of services.

Foreign students and lecturers may obtain health insurance at SPbU’s Healthcare Centre located at the following address: 13/15 Kadetskaya Liniya (Vasilyevsky Island), ground floor; tel. +7 (812) 676 25 44.

If you need medical assistance, please contact your insurance company using the phone number in your health insurance or, in the event of no reply, dial “03” to call an ambulance (24 hours).

Extracurricular Activities

Can I combine work and study?

In order to combine study and work, you will need a work permit which can be obtained by applying to the Migration Department, Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs.

You will also be able to work at SPbU during holidays or after classes without the permit. The positions available include a laboratory worker, assistant lecturer, assistant of foreign language teacher, etc.

Useful to Know

Public transport

As any other city in Europe, St Petersburg has a well-developed system of public transport, with buses, trolleybuses and trams linking all parts of the city. Please learn the public transport routes beforehand.

Public transport stops only in authorized places. As a rule, there are special plates (with letter “A” for buses and “T” for trolleybuses and trams) that have numbers of routes. Public transport is available from 5.30 a.m. to midnight.

It is very convenient to use the underground railway system (metro) which has five major lines. There are also suburban trains operating from 5.45 a.m. to 0.40 a.m. The metro closes for entrance at 0.30 a.m. Please note that junction stations have two names—one for each line.

The public transport fare:

  • metro — 65 roubles;
  • buses, trolleybuses, trams — 60 roubles.

You can also purchase an electronic monthly ticket (smart card) for one or more types of transport.

There are over 30 canteens and cafes at SPbU’s premises that serve full-fledged lunches. The city also has a variety of bistros, cafes and restaurants where you can enjoy national cuisines, including Russian.

Living costs

Rouble is the national currency of Russia. One rouble is divided into 100 kopecks. There are the following banknotes: 10 roubles (also a coin), 50 roubles, 100 roubles, 500 roubles, 1000 roubles and 5000 roubles.

The exchange rates are available on Bank of Russia’s website:

In Russia, it not advisable to carry much cash, so we recommend that you open a bank account and obtain a payment card. It will allow you to use cash dispensers (ATMs). You could also use traveler’s cheques.

We caution you against changing money with strangers on the street. The safe option is to change money only in banks or official exchange points.


St Petersburg is often informally called Northern Venice, since the city is located on over 30 islands linked to each other by over 300 bridges. The period of summer navigation is from late April to November, and drawing bridges are one of the most spectacular attractions for St Petersburg visitors.  

The timetable of bridge openings:

  • Aleksandra Nevskogo — 2:20 to 5:10 a.m.
  • Birzhevoy (Exchange Bridge) — 2:00 to 4:55 a.m.
  • Blagoveshchensky (Annunciation Bridge) — 1:25 to 2:45 and 3:10 to 5:00 a.m.
  • Bolsheokhtinsky — 2:00 to 5:00 a.m.
  • Volodarsky — 2:00 to 3:45 and 4:15 to 5:45 a.m.
  • Dvortsovy (Palace Bridge) — 1:25 to 2:50 and 3:10 to 4:55 a.m.
  • Liteyny — 1:40 to 4:45 a.m.
  • Troitsky (Trinity Bridge) — 1:35 to 4:50 a.m.
  • Tuchkov — 2:00 до 2:55 and 3:35 to 4:55 a.m.


The state holidays are time off from studies for schoolchildren and students. Banks, business centres and some shops might be closed.

Public holidays:

  • 1–8 January — New Year
  • 7 January — Orthodox Christmas
  • 23 February — Defender of the Fatherland Day
  • 8 March — International Women's Day
  • 1 May — International Workers' Day
  • 9 May — Victory Day
  • 12 June — Russia Day
  • 4 November — National Unity Day

SPbU students especially love the following unofficial holidays:

  • 25 January — Russian Student Day (Tatiana Day)
  • 8 February — SPbU Foundation Day
  • 27 May — St Petersburg Foundation Day

Rules Applying to Foreign Nationals Staying in Russia


The rights and duties of foreign nationals and stateless persons in Russia are governed by the following documents: Constitution of the Russian Federation, Federal Law No. 115-FZ of 25 June 2002 “On legal status of foreign nationals in the Russian Federation”, Federal Law No. 114-FZ of 15 August 1996 “On procedure of exiting and entering the Russian Federation”, and Federal Law No. 109-FZ of 18 July 2006 “On migration registration of foreign nationals and stateless persons in the Russian Federation”.

Extending period of stay (one month before expiry):

You should apply to SPbU’s Passport and Visa Support Department to extend the period of stay. You should enclose the required documents with your application. For foreign nationals arrived in Russia to study or work under a visa, the extension is carried out concurrently with issuing a multiple entry visa for the period of study or work, which period cannot excess one year for each instance of extension.

Visiting Other Russian Cities

You should notify an SPbU employee responsible for international admissions about the purpose and time of your visit to another city as well as about the place of your stay.

Should you stay in another city for over seven days, you should ask the receiving party (Russian citizen providing accommodation, administration of host institution) to get you registered by the federal migration service. You will have two days upon returning to St Petersburg to notify the SPbU employee and provide documents for resuming migration registration in St Petersburg: migration registration should be resumed if you were registered in another city where you stayed for more than seven days; it should be resumed in any event, if you stayed at a hotel.

Visits to locations outside Russia

You should notify an SPbU employee responsible for international admissions about the purpose and time of your visit to another country. You will have two days upon returning to St. Petersburg to provide documents to SPbU’s Passport and Visa Support Department in order to obtain migration registration under a new migration card.

Changing Place of Residence within St Petersburg or Leningrad Region

In the event you change your place of residence, you should notify an SPbU employee responsible for international admissions in order to issue a new migration registration notice.

Loss of documents

If you lose your national passport, visa or migration card, you should without delay make a declaration of the fact to the police by contacting the Lost Document Department of Ministry of Internal Affair’s Main Office for St Petersburg.

You will be issued a certificate that fill further be needed to replace the lost documents. If the documents were stolen from you, you should contact the nearest police station where you should also receive a certificate confirming you have reported a crime and then you should notify SPbU’s Passport and Visa Support Department and an employee responsible for international admissions.

The Ministry of Internal Affair’s Main Office for St Petersburg and Leningrad Region is located at 10 Zakharevskaya Str.

Six months before expiration of your national passport.

Please, extend or replace it and provide your new passport to SPbU’s Passport and Visa Support Department.

Completion of Study / Early Termination of Enrollment

In this event, you should leave Russia within three days of completion or termination.

NOTE: Violation of migration laws carries an administrative fine of five to seven thousand roubles and deportation from Russia (Art. 18.8 of Russia’s Code of Administrative Offences).


When you are approached by the police:

You should do what a police officer tells you to do, be polite and respectful.

  • If you are requested to show your ID, ask an officer to produce his warrant card. Write down the warrant card number or badge number as well as the officer’s name.
  • Show your national passport, migration card with registration notes, and student card. If your passport has been collected for registration and has not yet been returned, show the ID certificate issued by SPbU’s Passport and Visa Support Department.
  • If a police officer seizes your document, ask him to issue a certificate to that effect.
  • If you have no documents with you, give the last name and phone number of your Dean’s Office employee who can confirm that you are an SPbU student.
  • If you are detained for over three hours, ask the officer on duty to issue a certificate about that.
  • If police officers are rude, refuse to show their warrant cards and give their names, you should write down the number of their badges, plate number and make of the police car, remember the rank and distinguishing marks of at least one of the officers.
  • You should without delay notify SPbU’s Department for Foreign Students Affairs and your Dean’s Office international department.

A police officer shall always:

  • give his name, position, and rank, communicate the reason for and purpose of request;
  • handle your documents with care without making any notes on them.

A police officer may:

  • check your documents;
  • search you and your vehicle;
  • detain you for the period of up to three hours to ascertain your identity, if you carry no documents with you
  • stop your vehicle to check the documents and search it;
  • prevent further use of a faulty vehicle; prevent you from driving further if you are under the influence of alcohol;
  • seize documents that appear to be forged;
  • use weapons and special equipment to prevent crimes and detain perpetrators.

It is always advisable to follow these recommendations

  • Always have your documents with you: a national passport, migration card with registration stamps, and student ID;
  • Do not visit places empty of people at night or alone;
  • Change currency only in authorized exchange points;
  • Do not leave your luggage, personal belongings and documents unattended;
  • Carry cash and documents in an inner pocket of your jacket or coat. Do not use bags to carry cash and documents;
  • Use only authorized taxi services;
  • Park your vehicle at guarded areas. Do not leave valuables and bags in your vehicle so that they are seen from the outside;
  • Do not give a lift to strangers;
  • When making a payment, do not take out or show all your money.