How to register a car in your name in Russia: 5 not so easy steps

"The registration process will greatly depend on who you buy the motor from."

"The registration process will greatly depend on who you buy the motor from."

Alexey Kudenko/RIA Novosti
So you’ve decided to settle down in Russia and are brave - or stupid - enough to drive on the roads. Now you need to face the arduous task of signing up your motor, or in other words: Square up to bureaucratic hell. Luckily RBTH is here to help.

1. Buy a car

First things first: To register a car you need to have one. But the registration process will greatly depend on who you buy the motor from. An official retailer might take the bureaucracy upon itself and hand you the registration certificate along with your new car. Additional charges may apply, but have no doubts: It’s totally worth it, especially if you don’t feel confident speaking Russian.

If you buy a knockoff set of wheels from a dodgy dealer or a farmer miles outside Moscow, registering it within 10 days is your responsibility alone.

2. Pick a police station

There are a number of police stations that provide registering services to new car owners. It’s easy to pick the closest but be careful - some stations are always overcrowded, while others are not. If you don’t want to end up waiting for hours on end, scout around to see which has the least people. This will save you some serious time (N.B. The author waited for eight hours when registering his car).

Advice for Moscow residents: Avoid relatively big stations (e.g. the station located on Tvardovskogo Street, Strogino Metro) and aim for smaller ones as they tend to have fewer people waiting/loitering. Most of the stations are open five days a week (Sundays and Mondays are off) and some are open 24/7, although these joints tend to be rammed all the time, so stay clear. Information can be found here.

3. Pay fees

Be prepared to dip your hands into your pockets. Just because you forked out $200 for a yellow 1977 Lada Niva doesn’t mean you can get away without paying for new plates (2,000 rubles/$35) and a new registration certificate (500 rubles/$9). To pay the fees, visit this website and follow the easy instructions.

4. Get your e-queue ticket

This may sound like the easiest part, but make no mistake: If your nerves haven’t already been tested, they will be now.

The e-tickets are issued by machines inside the police station. Only a limited number of tickets are issued each day, it’s not possible to get a ticket for the next day, and you can’t book an appointment in advance.

Every morning - try to be there by 7 a.m. - people line up outside the station and wait until an officer opens the doors, before hurriedly snatching a ticket like they’re going out of fashion. At this point, forget formalities (and maybe even manners) as it can turn into a real dog fight.

If you manage to force your way to a machine in time, you need your passport and a passport of the vehicle with your name on it (this is the point where you realize you’ve forgotten one, or both). If you have a ticket at hand, consider it a major success. The rest is a piece of cake - theoretically.

5. Wait

Your ticket will indicate the approximate time of your appointment. You may be looking at hours of twiddling your thumbs, so perhaps take a book, write your memoirs, or do some shopping. Make sure to be back before the allotted time as you never know, your appointment might come around sooner than predicted (very, very unlikely!)

When your number is announced, approach the window and hand over all the necessary documents: Your passport, valid registration status in Moscow, vehicle passport, compulsory motor insurance act (aka OSAGO), a contract of sale, and all receipts for the fees paid.

A station employee will process the documents and hand you a ready to submit application along with your paperwork. Take it to the next room and scan your ticket before sliding into yet another line - yep, the waiting isn’t over just yet. Eventually, you’ll be invited to another window to give your documents to an officer (to be honest, it’s probably more painful for the station employees than it is for you - imagine how many applications they see each day!)

The officer will then ask you to drive your car to the inspection site which is always located within the station’s perimeter. The car’s VIN and engine codes will be examined, then you have to go to another window (you’ll probably feel like a peeping Tom after looking through so many in one day) to finally collect your passport, all the documents you had submitted along with it, new car plates, and a certificate of registration. Check if the spelling of your name matches the spelling in your passport.

Congratulations! Now you have a registered car and it’s valid for your stay in Russia. It does not terminate if you leave the country, but it does expire as soon as your legal stay in Russia ends. To renew it, just do the whole thing once again, or choose another form of torture...

Just try not to crash your car on the way out of the station.

Read more: Why dashboard cameras are so widespread in Russia>>>

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