1. When you are on the plane to Russia, you will get a “migration card” (landing card) to fill out, which will then be re-typed and stamped by the customs official. Make sure to keep this card with you at all times – you will need it both for registering and to leave the country. Bring two copies of this card with you to the post office.
2. You can download the registration form from the FMS website. Have your host print it and fill it out – it must be filled out in Russian. Then make 3 copies of it and bring them to the post office. The general outline of the form is as follows: Page 1 – Your passport, visa, and migration card details; after the tear line, your name and details and your host’s address. Page 2 – your host’s address, passport details and signature; after the tear line, your host’s name and signature. We were instructed to NOT fill out the top right corner boxes of the section after the tear line on Page 2, so I would recommend you do the same (you can always fill it in later if requested by the post office worker).
3. When you arrive at the nearest post office with your host, have them explain that you are there to register your visa and ask for them to check the form and tell you how many copies they require to be sent to the FMS (this can change which is why bringing more is better). Make any necessary corrections.
4. They will give you a large envelope for which you will need to pay (a very small amount around 20 rubles), and two declaration forms to fill out for the package you will be sending to the FMS.
5. Address the envelope to УФМС (the FMS), to the address that the postal worker will provide you with (the local branch). Have your host write on the declaration slips the exact documents and number of copies that you are including in your package of each document.
6. Take everything to the post office worker and have them check everything again. You will need to pay a small shipping fee. They will give you your registration slip and take care of the rest.
Important notices and warnings:
Do NOT try to do this on your own unless you speak fluent Russian and have your host’s passport with you. The postal workers in Russia are notoriously irritable and you will not receive any extra help from them (nor are they likely to speak English).
Do not let the postal worker convince you to not send in your registration notice. Yes, the only time it will likely be checked is if you get stopped by police on the street, but in Russia, that is highly likely to happen and you want to be covered!