According to the Telegraph, some 32,362 tickets have been sold to England supporters, and although security surrounding the tournament is expected to be tight, English fans travelling to Russia are being advised to remain vigilant.
If you’re off to Russia, here are some tips to help you enjoy a safe and secure tournament…
Paperwork: Make sure your passport is signed and is valid for at least six months after the tournament. As you’re probably already aware, once you’ve bought a ticket, you’ll need to get a laminated FAN ID to access the stadiums. This also allows you to enter and exit Russia multiple times during the tournament without needing a visa. However, if you’re travelling to Russia via another country, check whether you need a transit visa. Travel insurance is also a must.
Carry your original travel documents including passport, FAN ID and travel insurance on you, and be particularly careful in airports and other travel hubs. Make copies for yourself and your family at home. If you are staying at one of the host cities for longer than three days, you’ll need to register with the local authorities within that period, which can be done at your hotel. Find out more about registration here.
Plan Ahead: Make sure to plan an itinerary and let a family member or friend back home know your plans, as well as giving them an emergency contact number. Check the volume/quantity of liquids you can take in your hand luggage with your airline before you pack. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against travelling to certain areas – so do your research before planning your trip.
Cars: Road conditions and road safety are poor in Russia, with a high rate of accidents. Take extra care while driving, particularly at night. Travelling between stadiums takes a long time due to the long distances between cities and the poor conditions. If you do choose to drive, make sure to lock the vehicle while in transit and put your belongings out of reach to prevent robbery at junctions.
Trains: Be aware that train stations have similar security to airports, meaning you and your bags will be scanned. If you’re on a sleeper train, store your belongings in a safe place.
Taxis: Avoid flagging down taxis as they may be unlicensed: use a taxi app or get your hotel to call a registered taxi.
Do Your Homework: You need to be aware of Russia’s cultural and legal differences. Do your research: with recent heightened political tensions, make sure you know the latest government travel advice for Russia before you go. You can also sign up for email alerts so you get notified every time guidelines are updated.
Keep Valuables Safe: It may sound obvious, but remember to keep your belongings safe: petty crimes such as pick-pocketing and mugging are common, and even robberies occasionally happen, particularly in Moscow. Stay particularly aware in touristy areas such as squares, markets, restaurants and on public transport, and avoid alleyways or underground walkways. Don’t carry big wads of money and avoid flashing your cash. Keep your passport and other documents on your person, rather than in your bag or jacket. As mentioned before, hide your belongings and lock your vehicle doors.
Say No to Strangers: Be aware of scammers using distraction techniques (such as asking for help), and cons (such as dropping money or asking you to watch their bags). Never go to a bar with someone you don’t know: there have been reports in the past of tourists being drugged and robbed, and even assaulted. Similarly, if you are driving, don’t pick up hitchhikers.
Health and Safety: Since Russia is outside of the EEA, you’re not covered by a European Health Insurance card. This means it’s essential you get comprehensive travel insurance before you go. If you’re thinking of getting a souvenir tattoo or piercing while you’re away, you may want to think twice – hygiene standards are lower in Russia, and you could be at risk of contracting HIV or hepatitis. Also, you can’t drink Russian tap water, so make sure to stock up on bottled water.
Cyber Security: The National Cyber Security Centre has issued specific guidelines in relation to cyber security, which includes limiting the number of devices you bring and keeping your documents safe to avoid identity theft. Before you travel, take a backup of your photos/data, turn on the ability to wipe your phone, make sure all devices have a unique password/PIN, and that your laptop has up-to-date antivirus software installed. With roaming costs, it may be cheaper and safer to bring a pay-as-you-go phone. While you’re in Russia, remember that WiFi might not be safe so consider what you’re sharing carefully and avoid internet banking. Don’t share your devices with anyone and keep them with you at all times.
Entry: Don’t forget that you’ll need to register in the host city if you’re staying for longer than three days. Don’t buy tickets from touts as only official tickets will be valid. As mentioned previously, as well as a valid match ticket, you’ll need to present your FAN ID to gain entry to stadiums. Arrive early and choose what you bring to the match carefully (see Prohibited Items below) to avoid any security hold ups.
Prohibited Items: Certain items are banned from the stadiums, including large umbrellas, anything made of glass, flags or banners over 2m x 1.5m (you will need to apply for a licence to bring in anything bigger), large bags and food or drink. You can see a full list on the Russia 2018 Fan Guide page.
Alcohol: You can’t bring alcohol in to the stadiums and the sale of alcohol at events associated with the tournament and surrounding shops will be restricted. Buying and drinking alcohol in glass containers will be banned on match days in certain areas of the host cities.
Obey the Rules: Make sure you follow the Stadium Code of Conduct.
The majority of trips to Russia are trouble-free, and the above should not put you off. The overarching message is to be prepared, be alert and be sensible for a safe and secure World Cup.