As Russia continues to grapple with a devastating fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, its regions have implemented a digital health pass system to control entry to public areas.
The scannable QR code passes prove that one has been vaccinated within the past 12 months, has recently recovered from Covid-19 or recently tested negative for the virus.
With federal lawmakers set to vote on a nationwide mandate requiring these passes to enter public transit and airplanes, restaurants and bars, non-essential shops and other public spaces, getting a QR code is becoming increasingly urgent.
Because Russia doesn’t officially recognize any foreign-made vaccines, only people vaccinated with one of Russia’s domestically made vaccines can obtain an official QR code.
But foreigners, even those who have been vaccinated in Russia, have reported difficulties obtaining these passes.
Here’s what we know about how to get one of these passes as a foreigner:
Foreigners who were vaccinated with Sputnik V in Russia must have a SNILS (Individual insurance account) number, the Russian equivalent of a Social Security number, to get a QR code.
People who have SNILS can get their QR code through the Gosuslugi.ru government services portal (Moscow residents can also get their QR codes through Mos.ru, the city government’s services portal). Most Russians get their QR codes this way.
You can also sign up for a vaccination or other medical appointment through Gosuslugi — but only people who have SNILS can use the portal.
Foreigners can obtain SNILS through their Russian employer or by applying to the Pension Fund or Multifunctional Center (МФЦ) directly. Any foreign national with a valid working visa or temporary residence permit can get SNILS, according to the Pension Fund website.
If for some reason you didn’t receive your QR code through your Gosuslugi account, you can contact Gosuslugi customer support or visit the clinic where you got vaccinated and ask that your data be sent to Gosuslugi again.
If you were vaccinated in a private clinic or for some other reason your information is lost in one of the databases, send scans of your passport and the certificate of vaccination along with your cellphone number to the Moscow City Department of Foreign Economic and International Cooperation: email@example.com.
Foreigners who receive the one-shot Sputnik Light vaccine can also get a QR code as long as they present their work visa or temporary/permanent residency — a SNILS number isn’t required in this case.
Mos.ru has published a list of clinics that specifically work with foreign nationals and give QR codes after vaccination.
Sputnik Light shots for non-Russians are not free (unless they have compulsory medical insurance and SNILS). The one-shot vaccine costs around $15, but price and availability varies by clinic and region. Additionally, the mandatory medical examination before taking the shot may cost extra.
Three-day QR code
If you are not vaccinated or are unable to get a QR code in the ways mentioned above, you can still get a temporary QR code by taking a PCR test. All individuals whose PCR test results come back negative receive a QR code through Gosuslugi that is valid for 72 hours.
Individuals with medical documents proving their recent recovery from Covid-19 can get a QR code valid for six months from the day they tested positive.
It’s not possible to obtain a QR code by taking an antibody test.
Not all regions accept three-day QR codes. For example, such a QR code would not get you into a museum, theater or business forum in St. Petersburg, where new lockdown measures have just been put into effect.
Russia plans to introduce a simplified visa regime for foreigners seeking to get vaccinated from January 2022 following President Vladimir Putin’s orders to prepare for waves of “vaccine tourists.”
But it is still unclear whether receiving a Russian vaccine in Russia would open new paths to QR codes for foreigners once the new rules become active.