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I am an American Citizen and I am hoping to fly from USA to Kazakhstan via Moscow (transit for 4-9 hours in Moscow Airport) - do I need a Russian Visa?

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Yes, you do. From Transit visas:

The following situations do not require a transit visa:

  • Foreign nationals flying over the territory of the Russian Federation without changing flights in the country;

  • Foreign nationals flying with an international airline and changing flights in the Russian Federation, at the same airport on both the outward journey and the inbound journey (on condition that this airport has a transit area), in possession of properly completed documents confirming their right to enter the destination country, and an airline ticket with a confirmed departure date from the airport in Russia where they changed flights, no more than 24 hours after their arrival date.

The second part applies to you, however, it goes on to say:

Please note that if a foreign citizen travels across the territory of Russia to the countries of the Customs Union (Belorussia, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan) he is required to apply for a transit visa, unless he’s a citizen of countries eligible for visa-free travel to Russia in accordance with bilateral agreements.

Since you are going to Kazakhstan, which is within the Customs Union, you are required to have a transit visa. (US citizens definitely are not eligible for visa-free travel to Russia itself.)

  • In practice I doubt you will need transit visa if you just change flight in the same terminal going to Kazakhstan and anything else in this list except for Belorussia. Which is a special case since fights to it are essentially domestic (so I have heard). – alamar Feb 14 at 13:14
  • @alamar: Of all the countries where it would be inadvisable to mess with the border guards, Russia would be near the top of my list. Also, if Timatic says you need a transit visa, then you're not going to get on the plane to Russia without one. – Greg Hewgill Feb 14 at 17:19
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    Some additional clarification as to why the transfer visa is needed: "Since the Agreement on Customs Union signed by Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan has come into force, all flights among these countries are considered as domestic. Therefore, border and passport control is carried out only in one of these countries. This is the reason passengers traveling to Belarus or Kazakhstan with a flight change in Russia must acquire a transit visa beforehand." (mid.ru) – undercat supports Monica Feb 14 at 18:24
  • We can indeed have a case where reality clashes with declarations, with Russian authorities shooting themself in a foot. I doubt that flights to Kazakhstan are in fact domestic and I'm pretty sure that flights to Armenia and Kirgisia aren't. – alamar Feb 15 at 9:47

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