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When buying a train ticket (domestic or international) on the Russian railways Website, it asks for the Details of an identity document: the document type and document number.

In "Document type", one Option is called

ЗЗ - Foreign document (passport, identity card, etc.) issued to citizens of the CIS, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and foreign countries

My question is: would the train conductors/ticket controllers accept it if I (an EU citizen) put my ID card number on the ticket instead of my passport number?

In other words: is there a policy that a document used in a train booking must also be acceptable for entry and exit from Russia? The description does not imply such a thing, but does anyone know?

Do the rules differ between domestic and international train tickets?

Tried mailing Russian Railways using Google Translate, but they simply said "they don't decide in these matters".

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    They want your passport number, is there a special reason you want to use your ID number instead? Unclear. – Gayot Fow Apr 25 '16 at 22:47
  • Mostly so that when I go on a day trip by Train (Sapsan from Moscow to St Petersburg for example) I can leave the passport at my hotel – Crazydre Apr 25 '16 at 23:29
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    What is your contingency plan for producing a passport if you are challenged by the politsiya during a day trip? – Gayot Fow Apr 25 '16 at 23:34
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    If it were me, I'd just try it and see. Take your passport along at least two trips. If they ask for it, you'll know they need it. I doubt there's any harm in that approach. – D_Bester Apr 26 '16 at 0:29
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    Imagine you are the conductor. You're checking tickets. A kid that doesn't even speak tries to pass something that looks like a library card printed & laminated at home to prove he's the rightful owner of the ticket. Will you be bothered enough to look it up on the internet to learn how ID of some country you never heard about looks like? Or would you rather just kick him out of the train and move on? Tip: when you make other people's lives hard for no reason, they tend to return the favor. Passports are standardized internationally for a reason. – Agent_L Apr 26 '16 at 11:17
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In other words: is there a policy that a document used in a train booking must also be acceptable for entry and exit from Russia?

No, there is no written policy for that. The only thing you should be aware of is the conductor during the board check validates your document and ticket. The document number and your names in it must be the same as in your ticket. So, you must provide them your ID-card, and, as far as I know, it doesn't looks like a passport. This can be a problem in general, as the conductors simply can be unfamiliar with such document formats. This can cause the delay in boarding and even the denial for the trip (as you said that you do not speak Russian, they will try to find an English speaker).

From other side, the Sapsan's are frequently used by foreigners, and for this exactly train you really not in a danger. But I still do advice for you to get the passport with you, for the safety (it much more safer to bring it with you rather than leave it in a hotel).

Passport check are rare in general, but on railway stations and subway they still can be met. In case if you have no passport with you, police can take you to the police station for a further checks, and they can leave you there for hours. This is not the situation I want to be in.

As for the difference between domestic and international trains - I think that you really should use the passport for international trains, as the conductors during the boarding are checking the visas for all the passengers, and there is a huge probability of denied boarding for such trip if you have used not a passport (even if you have it with you) - they simply will want over-insure themselves.

Also, be aware of that the Russian Railways site may not accept your Visa/MasterCard payment card if they were not issued in Russia. So, you have to find another site for ticket purchasing. For example, this can be used:

https://www.ufs-online.ru/en

but personally I haven't used any of such sites for myself.

Edit:
Kazakhstan is a member of CIS, so you can use your ID as it is

ЗЗ - Foreign document (passport, identity card, etc.) issued to citizens of the CIS

But I suggest you to use it only for domestic trains, as I stated before.

  • "This can be a problem in general, as the conductors simply can be unfamiliar with such document formats" I know nationals of Kazakhstan have ID Cards which are accepted at Russian border control. What I'm asking myself is whether the description of "Foreign document" strictly refers to Kazakh (and not EU) ID cards. Doesn't imply it, but it'd make sense. "the conductors during the boarding are checking the visas for all the passengers" Aha, that IS important to know. If they check the entry requirements (which, for me when going to Kazakhstan, is a passport without a visa), choice is obvious. – Crazydre Apr 26 '16 at 13:06
  • Yes, they are asking for a visa to avoid problems during border-cross. – VMAtm Apr 26 '16 at 13:50
  • @Crazydre CIS stands for Commonwealth of Independent States. Kazakhstan is a member of it, so your ID card can be used for it for domestic trains. – VMAtm Apr 26 '16 at 13:52
  • I see. Do you think the train staff would be informed about the fact that, since July 2015, Swedish passports no longer require a visa for Kazakhstan (max 15 days)? If not, would they throw me off even I firmly explained (in Russian - I'll learn the sentence) that I Need no visa for mac 15 days? If so, then I know I Need to print out some official info in Russian. – Crazydre Apr 26 '16 at 13:57
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    @Crazydre I can say that the more you provide the documents, the less they'll pay attention. So I think that this is a talking problem you can solve. But I still think that you should provide a passport, which is easier solution. Only IMHO. – VMAtm Apr 26 '16 at 14:43
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I think in theory you can. But you must present same ID to the conductor as you've used to book a train.

In practice chances are pretty high that you would be denied boarding by the conductor if you try to use something that does not look like a passport.

Overall, it's highly recommended to have your passport with you at all times in Russia. Especially if you don't look like local / don't speak Russian. Unfortunately you need a passport for way too many things in Russia.

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UPDATE:

Ended up putting my ID Card on the domestic tickets (including the Sapsan), and my passport on the ticket to Kazakhstan.

The lady guarding the entrance to the Sapsan train asked me to point to the "document number" on the ID card, but that was it. Similar with the local trains around Moscow.

On the train to Kazakhstan, however, I got the impression that I did well to put the passport on that ticket.

  • That lady, officially, doesn't guard an entrance, but helping passengers:) – VMAtm Apr 11 '17 at 20:33

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