Soviet Union Information Bureau



THE rights of foreign nationals, where an agreement exists between their government and the U.S.S.R., are regulated in accordance with the terms of that agreement. If the rights of foreigners have not been specified in the agreement or by special laws, the rights of these foreigners to move freely in the territory of the U.S.S.R., to choose a profession, to open and to carry on business enterprises, to acquire movable or immovable property, or shares on land, may be restricted by decrees of the competent central organs of the Government of the U.S.S.R., with the consent of the People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs. Foreign joint-stock companies, associations, and others, acquire the rights of a juridical person only by special government permission.

Foreign firms and foreigners are not allowed to own, or to be part owners, of ships navigating under the Soviet flag, or of joint-stock companies possessing such ships. Exception is made with regard to mixed companies if such rights have been conceded in their statutes or by special decrees.

Foreign vessels are not allowed to engage in coasting trade between the ports of the U.S.S.R. They may be allowed to do coasting trade by way of concession, and only for a single journey, in cases where the Government is interested in it.

Foreign firms desiring to carry on trade operations or to open offices, agencies, etc., in the U.S.S.R., must make application, with payment of the established stamp duty, to the Commissariat for Trade and Commerce, giving all particulars of the proposed enterprise, including management, ownership and proof of legal existence in the country of domicile, of the applicant firm.

Under a legislative measure confirmed by the Central Executive Committee, June, 1925, foreigners have the right to the use of land for agricultural purposes on the same basis as citizens.

Under a decree of the Central Executive Committee and the Council of People's Commissars, of September 3, 1926, all foreigners residing upon Soviet territory are divided into two categories: (1) temporary residents; (2) foreigners permanently domiciled in the Union.

Domiciled foreigners are defined as those who for a period of not less than 18 months have lawfully resided in the Union and have been engaged in any lawful industry or business. (This provision, however, does not apply to nationals of States which do not extend the privileges of permanent domicile to citizens of the U.S.S.R.).

All foreigners residing in Union territory and not coming under the above provision are regarded as having a temporary residence.


Application for naturalization of foreigners residing in the territory of the U.S.S.R. must be addressed to the administrative department of the Presidium of the Provincial Executive Committee at the place of residence of the applicant, or, if abroad, to the Plenipotentiary of the Diplomatic Mission, for the Presidium of the Union Central Executive Committee. The application must be made on specially provided forms. Wives cannot be entered in the application of the husband, but have to make separate application. Children under 16 should be included preferably in the application of the mother. Children over 16 must make separate application. Applications have to be accompanied by documents proving the identity of the applicant, his nationality, whether the applicant is married or single and any other documents supporting the statements made in the application, as well as a biography.

In the case of citizens abroad being granted citizenship of the U.S.S.R., the applicant has to obtain a passport from the Consulate General within two months of the receipt of the decision.

Any foreigner living abroad who, according to the national laws of his country of origin, does not lose his former nationality by assuming citizenship of the U.S.S.R. must, before being admitted, affix a certificate to the application testifying that there is no objection on the part of his Government to his adopting citizenship of the U.S.S.R.


In the absence of normal diplomatic relations between the United States and the U.S.S.R., Americans who wish to obtain visas for the U.S.S.R. should communicate with the Visa Department, People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs, Moscow, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, stating all relevant facts, including purpose of visit, approximate time and at what Soviet consulate they wish to call for their visa. A person whose visit is primarily for scientific or other cultural purpose would do well also to communicate with the Society for Cultural Relations. Americans traveling in Europe may receive information about visas from any Soviet consulate.

The Society for Cultural Relations publishes a comprehensive and compact Guide Book to the Soviet Union, in English, which is available for distribution in the United States and can be obtained in all book stores.

Travel in U.S.S.R.

Foreign visitors to the Soviet Union from the west may enter by train or airplane. The train time from Paris to Moscow is 652 hours. Berlin to Moscow 42 hours. This is via Warsaw. Via Riga is about 4 hours longer. The air service, Koenigsberg-Moscow, takes 10.5 hours; cost $50.

All incoming passengers change at Negoreloye, on the Polish frontier, to the broader-gauge Soviet trains.

Through tickets to Moscow, including sleepers, can be bought at London, Paris and Berlin.

Foreigners in cities in the U.S.S.R. must register with the local authorities. For this questionnaires must be made out in duplicate, with passport photograph on each. A permit of residence must also be secured. These details may be arranged at one's hotel. Before leaving the U.S.S.R. a permit of departure must be secured. This formality requires about 48 hours and can also he arranged at the hotel.

Foreign visitors will need about half a dozen extra passport photographs to be affixed to the various visa documents in U.S.S.R.

Railways in the U.S.S.R. maintain good passenger trains on all the principal lines with Wagons Lits service between principal cities.

Passenger rates vary with the distance, the cost per mile decreasing with the length of trip.

Passenger airplane lines are maintained between the principal cities in the European portion of U.S.S.R., and also between certain stations on the Trans-Siberian Railway in Asia and points remote from railway connections.

Tourist Agencies

Several American tourist agencies now operate tours to the U.S.S.R., under arrangement with the Soviet Travel Bureau (Sovtorgflot). These include:

American-European Travel Bureau, ico Fifth Avenue, New York City.
The Open Road, Inc., 2 West 46th Street, New York City.
World Tourists, Inc., 69 Fifth Avenue, New York City.
Amalgamated Bank of New York, Travel Department, ix Union Square, New York City.
Cunard Steamship Co., Ltd., 25 Broadway, New York City.
Central Bureau of the Technical Aid Society, 799 Broadway, New York City.

The tourist agencies make all arrangements for ingoing and outgoing visas in connection with tours to the Soviet Union.

Foreign Parcels

The admission of foreign parcels, without a special import permit, is authorized for a limited number of commodities, mostly foodstuffs and other articles of common use, provided they are not intended for commercial purposes. The usual tariff rates must be paid. Weight limit of such parcels is five kilograms. The following parcels are deemed to be commercial: 1. If forwarded by one commercial firm to another. 2. If sent to the address of a commercial firm or from a commercial firm. 3. If individual parcels are shipped on a wholesale scale, even though addressed to different individuals.

Parcels addressed to State or cooperative organizations are forwarded without special permit only in case they contain samples not of a commercial nature. Parcels addressed to universities or other higher educational establishments or scientific organizations are admitted without special permit. Parcels addressed to organizations mentioned in this paragraph are released from the customs house on written statement from the recipient to the effect that they will not be sold.