The world’s largest country, Russia, has mountains, valleys, frozen lands, warm sandy beaches, and unique natural landscapes that impress visitors.
Some of Russia’s oldest cities, such as Moscow and St.Petersburg, still maintain the splendor of the empire, not only in architecture but also in magnificent parks, shopping malls, and even subway stations. In other cities and regions, including Siberia and remote destinations in the Far East, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the breathtaking beauty of tundra, northern lights, and volcanoes.
From stunning golden palaces to vast natural spaces, tour around the country to your satisfaction. However, before jumping in the driver’s seat, you should know some things.
Introduction to driving in Russia as a foreigner
The exchange of a Russian driver’s license is generally relatively simple. For some foreign drivers, getting a Russian driving license can be lengthy, especially for those who move permanently, as you must pass an actual driving test in Russian. Tourists and expatriate residents in Moscow may use their driving license within six months of arriving in Moscow.
Difference between an International Driving Permit and License
An International Driving Permit is a small grey booklet marginally larger than a passport containing a translation of your original driving license in 10 languages, including English, French, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, and Spanish. It is recognized by 141 countries worldwide and is valid for one year.
On the other hand, an International Driving License is not a legal document and cannot be used to drive in foreign countries or instead of an IDP.
Benefits of Carrying an IDP in Russia
Functioning as an identity document
The IDP is a handy travel document as it acts as an identity document. This is useful if you want to keep your passport in a secure place for security reasons. An IDP can be used in place of a national identity card, especially if your national identity card is in a language not used internationally.
Quicker traffic authority stops
Some countries allow you to use foreign licenses for a set period. This is aimed at boosting tourism and reducing hassle for sightseers. However, traffic police may have trouble deciphering driver information on your license during a traffic stop. Having an International Driving Permit ensures that policemen can quickly note down your particulars and send you on your way. This is especially useful during emergencies and motor accidents.
Car rental companies
Foreign companies may hesitate to lease vehicles to foreigners without an international driver’s license. Since an IDP is a legal document recognized by the United Nations, most car rental companies recognize it as a valid driver’s license upon leasing a car. It can also save you precious vacation time and unnecessary delays when dealing with rental companies.
United Nations Agreements on Road Traffic
International Driving Permits are issued through institutions authorized by the United Nations. They comply with UN road traffic conventions. There have been three international motor traffic conventions – 1926 (Paris), 1949 (Geneva), and 1968 (Vienna). Many countries have been contracted to honor IDPs as valid documents in each convention. Specific automotive associations and institutions have been given authority to act on behalf of the country’s government in issuing IDPs.
Driving Requirements for Non-Citizens in Russia
The document used when foreigners travel abroad on a short-term basis is an International Driving Permit. If you intend to stay driving for longer than a year, you may have to change the driving permit into a Russian license. If you are from a country in the EU, you can exchange your original license for a Russian driving license. On the other hand, if you are not from the EU, you will need to take the driving test from scratch.
Driving lessons and Russian driving tests
You can get a Russian learner’s permit by registering at the Russian Driving School. It usually takes around 50 hours to learn how to drive a car. Course duration varies, but it can make a huge difference in finding the best providers registered at the local GDBDB. Most Russian driving schools offer courses that can prepare both theoretically and practical Russian driving tests. In Moscow, there are practice routes and test routes on the GIBDD website. You will typically do a driving test in Russia as you have been practicing.
Required documents when driving in Russia
Vehicle inspections conducted by police officers are carried out by random vehicles, and it is essential that you carry out several necessary documentation. You may be subject to a fine if you cannot provide any of this information when contacted. As per Russian driving regulations, you also should have a set of items that help in improving the safety of roads, notably:
Foreign driving license or Russian driving license
International Driving Permit
Proof of insurance
Proof of vehicle ownership (if applicable)
Vehicle inspection card (if applicable)
Who can apply for an IDP?
An IDP is a prerequisite to driving overseas. This permit is crucial because local authorities can assess your driving validity. Your driver’s license is another essential document required for a person to get an IDP. The permit relates to your regular license and enables other countries to understand the terms and conditions of that license.
Why do people carry IDPs?
You can provide identification to 150 countries worldwide with your ID card and driver identification information. Our software converts your ID information into ten languages.
Is a local driver’s license valid in Russia?
Depending on which country you are from, driving in Russia without an IDP can be risky business. In addition to acquiring an official Russian driver’s certificate, you need an internationally issued driver’s certificate or IDP to be permitted to drive abroad. The driver’s license in Russia must also contain an IDP when a foreigner holds a license in Russia. This gives you the ability to operate your vehicle throughout the country. All unauthorized foreigners must possess their ID.
Renewal of your IDP and original license while in Russia
Original drivers license
As an IDP is not a stand-alone document for driving in any country, you must have a valid, unexpired driving license to show if requested. If your license expires while you are abroad, you will be required to renew it to keep driving in that country. The procedure for renewing a license differs widely by country. License renewal may include a vision test that cannot be done online, which may mean you need to return to your country of origin to renew your license. Most governments provide an online license renewing service for expatriates.
International Driving Permit
To renew your IDP, all you need is your current driver’s license details, a photo of yourself, and your driver’s license to verify your identity. This can be done through our website.
Car rental in Russia
You will need your passport and IDP for identification purposes to rent the car. You will also need a credit card to deposit possible car damage not covered by insurance. However, most companies don’t allow you to cross the border with a rented car, so be sure to cross-check with that information. The minimum driving age is 18, and the minimum age to rent a vehicle is 21; however, drivers younger than 25 must pay an additional young driver surcharge.
You can also consider purchasing the following-Personal Accident Insurance (PAI) and Personal Effects Coverage (PEC). These coverage options are not necessary but give you peace of mind in knowing that your belongings are protected and will also cover any medical expenses for injuries inside your rental car.
Driving and Safety
Russia has a poor road safety record compared to other European states, though the geographical variation differs widely. Be aware of Russian road rules before you start driving.
In Russia, driving with seat belts is compulsory. The vehicle seat also has a security belt to be worn by all passengers. If a medical condition has prevented you from wearing a seat belt, you must seek a medical certificate to prove it to traffic officers. Appropriate safety equipment is required by children aged four years to 11 with dimensions below 1.35 m. You are only allowed to use the horns in towns if there is extreme or immediate danger.
Russia has zero tolerance for drunk driving. You must have your blood sampled if you have exceeded the limit. Russian road rules about drinking are equally applicable to drugs. Police have started a saliva sampling program in Moscow to detect suspected narcotic drug use, and it will likely be extended into the whole of Russian territory if successful.
Driving on Russian roads requires a right angle. Turning left in large towns is prohibited unless they are at crossings with lights. Drivers and passengers are required to wear safety belts, and children under 12 years old are not permitted to sit in the front seat of the vehicle without child safety. Use of your mobile phone during travel in Russia is illegal if there is no hands-free device. It is also unlawful to drive dirty cars.
For motorcycles and vehicles weighing less than 3. 5 tons, as a general rule, the speed is 60 km/h in urban areas and 110 km/h on highways and other roads. In some residential areas, all vehicles have a speed limit of 20 km/h.
You can stop and park on the right side of the road. The vehicle must be facing the direction of travel. It has access to the city’s parking lot and parking meters. If there are no tram lines, you will be allowed to stop and park on the left side of the city one way. Stopping or parking within 5 meters of a pedestrian crossing or intersection, or where visibility is restricted, is prohibited. Parking within 50 m from the railroad crossing is also prohibited
Driving in Russia at the end of the winter is challenging. During the winter season, keep a clean snow paste on your vehicle and be sure your car has been insulated by using winter tires.
Bring your passport, visa, immigration card, insurance policy, car registration documents, and certificates when driving in Russia. Of course, always get a valid driver’s license or International Driving Permit.
Bring your GPS. It’s the best tool to avoid getting lost, especially if you’re new to the country. Helped by the fact that most police stations only speak Russian, most road signs in the country are Russian. There is a shortage of gas stations, restaurants, and motels, so you also need to stock up when navigating the streets outside the town.
Top destinations to travel to in Russia
A great place where you can meet family or friends, Tikhvin houses numerous museums. Residents and visitors tend to visit Russian cuisine that carries over the streets. You may also see the Theotokos icon in Tikhvine, Russia’s most holy site. You will find Russian Orthodox jewelry here, which will be useful in your souvenir collection. Tikhvin also hosts many bread shops that usually evoke fresh bread throughout the area.
The main attraction for the winter is the Koprini area in Russia. The region is famous among residents and tourists for sledding and winter activities. Because its popularity provides an ideal setting for various hotel and restaurant establishments, this city also boasts the wealthiest country club in the United States, making it the perfect place to visit celebrities and royals.
Moscow is the best place to visit in the country, giving you the best start in Russia. The Moscow Metro, the Moscow Kremlin, and Red Square are among the most beautiful sights in Moscow. It is best to visit the St Basil Cathedral and Tretyakov Museum if you want to experience the rich cultural and artistic heritage.
St Petersburg is an important port city known for its canals, which are great to see on boat cruises. The location has numerous museums, churches, restaurants, and attractions, making it the best site for people of diverse ages and interests. In this part, a popular place of activity is a museum called the Faberge Museum.
The Best Time to Travel in Russia
Russia offers all-year-long vacation destinations with warm temperatures to engage in outdoor activities, while snowy winters attract those attracted to its beauty. Generally, the best season to visit is spring and fall as the temperatures are lovely.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I drive in Russia with an IDP?
Yes, an IDP is a worldwide recognized document.
Does Russia require an International Driving Permit?
We highly recommend having an IDP when traveling to Russia, as many countries require you to have a valid driving license and an IDP.
Can I drive in Russia with a UK license?
Yes. In Russia, drivers can drive safely with their own UK license.
Is it necessary to have an IDP when traveling to Russia?
It is highly recommended to carry an IDP when traveling to a foreign country to avoid any hassle due to the mistranslation of your original license.
How much does an IDP cost for Russia?
For any pricing queries, you can visit our pricing page.
What side of the road should you drive in Russia?
You can drive in Russia on the right side of the road.
How to get your IDP for Russia?
To apply for an IDP, fill out the necessary fields on your website. You can also find everything you may need to complete the application process and ensure the process goes smoothly.