|Communication & Postal Services |
Russian post services handle all kinds of communications, including local and international postal services, registered mail (incoming and outgoing), stamps, telegrams, intercity and international phone calls, newspaper and magazine subscriptions. Box rentals, intercity and international call services may only be available at the Main Post Office. Post offices (pochta) are located all over Moscow; each neighbourhood has at least one.
Moscow's Main Post Office (Moskovsky Glavpochtamt) is located at Myasnitskaya ul., 26, metro Turgenevskaya or Chistye Prudy. It is open 24/7. A convenient, centrally located post office is the Central Telegraph (Tsentralny Telegraph) at Tverskaya ul., 7, just up the hill from the National Hotel. Moscow's Main International Post Office is located at Varshavskoye sh., 37, metro Nagatinskaya.
Sending and Receiving Mail
If you want your friends and relatives to send you mail from abroad to your home or work address, make sure you provide them with the complete address. One of the most important items in your address is the postal index (equivalent to zip code), which consists of six numbers. Find out the index of your home address from your landlord; that of your work should be printed on your business car. An incorrect index will result in your mail being sent to the wrong post office in Moscow, which will delay delivery as your mail will have to be re-sent to the post office that handles your area.
For incoming mail, it is okay if the address is written in English. Ask your friends to clearly print all letters. (Capital letters are best). You might also want to e-mail or fax them your address in Russian printed letters so that they can copy in onto the envelope. Outgoing international mail can obviously also be address in English, but it helps if you spell out the name of the country to which you are sending your postcard, letter or parcel in English and in Russian.
If you want to send a letter or parcel from Russia, you should address it as follows:
country (only for international mail, including that to the former republics);
index and city;
street, building number, entrance number, apartment number;
last name, first name and patronymic (the latter only if applicable).
Public mail boxes are blue with the word "Pochta" written on them in white letters. They are available all over town and each post office usually has one outside (attached to the wall) and one inside. Regular mail will be delivered to the mail box (pochtovy yashchik) inside your building or to your office reception.
If someone sent you a registered letter or parcel and you are not at home when the post office attempts to deliver it, they will put a slip of paper in your post box notifying you of its arrival. The paper will also say at which post office you can retrieve your mail. You must complete the back of the slip which asks for your name, address in Moscow, passport details (issued where, when and by which agency). You must then show your original passport to receive your mail. If you fail to show up within several days of the notification, you might have to pay storage charges.
The Russian post service is still a bit unreliable - an airmail letter from Moscow to another country can take anywhere from three weeks to three months to arrive; the same applies to incoming mail. Important items and documents should only be sent by registered mail. A registered letter is called "zakaznoye pismo"; a registered parcel is called "zakaznaya pasylka". The best (but also the most expensive) option will be express mail company.
Making Phone Calls within Moscow
When dialed from your home landline, phone calls within Moscow are still free of charge. Unless you live in a residential compound or hotel, which might require you to dial a number such as 0 or 9 to get access to an outside line, you just pick up the phone and dial the number. The majority of landline phone numbers in Moscow consists of seven digits. As Moscow has two area codes (495 or 499), sometimes you have to dial eleven digits (if case with 499 code). The same applies to making a phone call to a federal mobile number.
Making Phone Calls to Other Cities in Russia
Phone calls to other cities in Russia are still quite affordable. To reach a phone number in another city in Russia, dial 8, wait for the tone, then dial 55 or 53, then dial the area code of the city you are calling followed by the local number. For example, to call someone in St.Petersburg, dial 8, wait for the tone, then dial 55 or 53, then dial 812 (the area code for St.Petersburg) and the local phone number.
Making Calls to Other Countries
It is fairly easy to make an international phone call from a standard Russian telephone line, and normally you will get through even to remote locations. To access an outside line, dial 8 and wait for the tone. Then dial 10, followed by the country code, the city code and the local phone number you want to reach. For example, to call a number in the US, dial 8, wait for the tone, then dial 10 followed by 1 (the country code for the US) followed by the area code and local number.
If the city code starts with a 0 (e.g. in the UK and Germany), do not dial the 0 and start with the first non-zero number after it. For example, to call London, you would dial 8-10-44-208 followed by the local number (instead of 8-10-0208). When giving friends abroad your phone number in Moscow, remember to tell them the country code for Russia is 7 and the area codes for Moscow are 495 or 499. Your landlord will for sure tell you your area code. If you have a seven-digit home or office number or a direct Moscow mobile number, they need to dial +7 495 111 11 11.
Information on international dialing codes
Mobile Phones and Mobile Communication
The mobile phone market works slightly differently in Russia than in other countries, particularly the US. Service companies do not throw in the handset for free as part of your sign-up package. When you sign-up for service, you will receive a SIM card, which contains all of your account information. The card can be inserted into any unlocked handset (the great majority of handsets on sale in Russia are unlocked). When you purchase your SIM card and phone, be sure to keep all of the paper work that you are given in a safe place. If you lose your phone, call your service provider immediately so that they can freeze your account. In most cases, they can reissue you a new SIM card and you can retain your old number, service package and account balance. Mobile phones are available from numerous stores and shops all over town. At most of them you can get your new phone connected on the spot through the provider of your choice. There are 3 major phone operators in Moscow: Beeline, Megafon and MTS. They all offer a wide range of services and payment plans.
Two different kinds of mobile phone numbers are currently available in Moscow: a direct number and non-direct/federal number. A direct number is a seven-digit number, just like any other Moscow number, and can be accessed from any home, office or other mobile phone. A federal number consists of the number 8 followed by a three-digit area code such as 916, 926, 960 and a seven-digit number. Service charges for a direct number are more expensive than for the non-direct/federal number option. All major phone operator in Moscow offer an international roaming.
If you want to send an SMS to a direct Moscow mobile number you need to enter +7 495 followed by the seven-digit number.
You can top up your mobile phone in a variety of ways:
You can purchase mobile phone cards, that are sold everywhere from supermarkets to kiosks.
You can use multi-kassas - special devices that are on every corner and that look a little bit like ATMs. Usually when you pay with multi-kassa, you have to pay extra commission about 2-5%. In some mobile phone shops (like Svyaznoi) there are multi-kassas without extra commission.
You can top up your phone in any mobile phone shop. No commission is taken.
You can pay by your credit card directly via ATM.
You can top up your phone transmitting money form your bank account via Internet-banking.
A pay phone is called a "taksofon" in Russian. You will find several different types of pay phones in Moscow. Some work with tokens, which are sold in kiosks and in metro stations; others work with pre-paid phone cards. Some allow you to make local, national and international calls while others are only for local calls. A particular kind of phone card will only work with particular kinds of pay phones, i.e. there are no universal pay phone cards.
Internet Service & Satellite TV Providers
There are many internet service providers in Moscow offering high-speed broadband internet access, as well as ADSL high-speed access with Akado, Stream and Corbina being the most popular ones. Prices for internet access are moderate compared to Europe and USA with the cheapest tariff rates starting from about 250 Rbs. Moscow features lots of free Wi-Fi hotspots available in restaurant, cafes, clubs, hotels and other public places, though internet cafes with wired internet access are also at your service. Satellite TV is getting more and more popular in Moscow. Major satellite TV providers are listed here.