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Registering a Car
Text and photos: John Harrison and David Coti, a partner in LLC Teknilog, who John met in a queue at the GIBDD foreigners’ registration building in Lobnenskaya Ulitsa, North Moscow.

There are several ways that you can register a car here, depending on your legal status. Firstly, on the strength of a visa, secondly, on the strength of a temporary residence permit (временное разрешенное на жительство), thirdly on the basis of a work permit (разрешение на работу), fourthly with a full residence permit (вид на жительство), and finally through the foreign or Russian company that you work for.

In all cases, foreigners without Russian passports can only register vehicles at one place in Moscow: The special foreigners’ GIBDD (ГИБДД), or GAI registration centre on Lobnenskaya Ulitsa, Dom 20, telephone: +7 (495) 4833311 (Лобненская ул., 20). The building is quite hard to find as Lobnenskaya Ulitsa turns into a one way road, with the traffic coming against you; if you are driving from Dmitrovskoe Shosse (Дмитровское Шоссе). You turn right on to Izhorskaya Ulitsa (Ижорская Улица), follow the road round to the left and the GIBDD building is on the left.

Cars being examined inside the ‘TO’ centre

Documents you need:

  1. If you have bought a new car, the whole packet of documents that you receive when you take delivery of your car: the “PTS” (Паспорт Транспортного Средства), sales contract, and any other documents they give you. Better safe than sorry, take all the documents with you.

If you have bought a secondhand car, then you need the “PTS” re-issued in your name. This can be done at GIBDD offices throughout Moscow. Easier still: buy a vehicle at one of the larger secondhand car dealers, such as Avtocenter Moskva, Kashirskoe Shosse 61, which have brokerage companies working within their company that can do the job for you. You should obviously check out before you buy the car that getting the “PTS” in your name is possible. Buying from a smaller second-hand car dealer, David Coti said is not advisable, as the brokers in such firms are not very solid, the can disappear if you need to return to get documents re-issued.

  1. You need a notarized translation of your passport, and a photocopy of this, unless you hold a temporary or full residence permit. Friendly small businesses have set up just across the road (as it happens) which can photocopy your documents.
  2. Vehicle Insurance Certificate.

Registering a car on the basis of an ordinary visa issued for tourist or by invitation of an individual or company:
You need to prove your address. This is done in Russia by showing a residence registration document which you can obtain without too much difficulty by going with your landlord/landlady to the local post offi ce. Such registration documents are given for three months maximum at a time. At the end of these three months you have to repeat the procedure and re-register the car, which is easier than it sounds, as you will already have the car number plates, and be familiar with the procedure.

On the basis of a business visa:
The same registration document is needed from the post office. The duration of the car registration depends on the duration of your visa and registration.

On the basis of a work permit:
A work permit acts to all intense and purposes acts as registration (for you), so you just need to get a photocopy done of it.

Those holding a temporary and full residence permits:
such foreigners are becoming a kind of elite foreign legion in Russia, and simply need to photocopy their document, as the residence permit is registration. Car registration will be valid for as long as the per mit is valid. The same goes for the full residence permit, although you do need to get your local “ZHEK” (Жэк) to put a stamp in the permit showing where you live. This should be a simple task for those few bravadoes who have gone as far as getting such a permit.

Via your Russian or foreign company:
If you work for a registered foreign company with an element of foreign capital, the company has the right to register a car; also only at Lobnenskaya Ulitsa. If you work for a Russian company, it can register cars at any local GIBDD registration centre. In both cases, the company can enable you to legally drive your car by giving you a “doverennost” (доверенность) or power of attorney. It is not advisable to hand your car over to a Russian company, or for that matter a foreign company to register for you (in the name of the company), as the car will technically become the property of the company. The company may fire you. The same sort of thing can happen if you give Russian friends or colleagues the right to handle registration of your car.

The procedure:

David Coti advises arriving at Lobnenskaya Ulitsa at the end of the working day; for example on a Tuesday when the offices close at 8pm, showing your documents and finding out what you still need, if anything. All being well, you should arrive the following day no later than 8.30am, although the queues are not too bad. Despite the fact that the Lobnenskaya centre is especially for foreigners, nobody speaks anything but Russian, so you do need to take an interpreter with you if you do not speak good Russian.

The registration procedure is simple. You hand in your documents, wait, are then called up to a window, told to pay the relevant tax and inspection fee, for which special paying-in slips are provided, then take your car round the back to an inspection ground, where GIBDD officers check out that the car is actually the same vehicle as in your “PTS” document. Then you return back to the same room in the main building, wait again and if all is well, receive your number plates.

Rarely is all the paperwork in order. In my case, it came to light that my new car was registered to be painted blue in its “PTS,” but in fact the car is a beige color, which demanded that the “PTS” be re-signed by a customs official. This meant I had to drive right across Moscow to the car dealership, who, as it happens, had a local customs officer on hand, and were able to re-issue the document. I then rushed back to Lobnenskaya Ulitsa before it closed. I received my plates that day. As a very rough estimate, the time you need to get your car registered, if you do it yourself, is about 2 days although if you are familiar with the procedure, you only need a couple of hours.

You will receive a car tax bill every year. According to hearsay, not a lot of people pay these taxes; however as David Coti pointed out: “this can be a problem, if you keep the car for a number of years and wish to sell it, because you have to deregister the vehicle [when the number plates are taken away] before the new owner can legally own it; although you can also sell it using the ‘generalnaya doverennost’ system.”

Tekhnicheski Osmotr (Текнический Осмотр)

This is the Russian version of the British “MOT” or the French “Controle Technique” and is a document you are obliged by law, along with your car registration document, your driving license and insurance certificate, and technically your passport, to have with you when driving at all times. You have 10 working days after your car is registered to obtain a “Tekhnicheski Ospmotr.” These documents are valid for three years for new cars and one year for older vehicles.

The only place foreigners can obtain a Tekhnicheski Ospmotr is at the test centre on Lipetskaya Ulitsa (Липецкя Улица) in the Tsaritsina region of Moscow. The easiest way of getting there is to turn right onto MKAD from Kashirskoe Shosse (Каширское Шоссе) and then left onto Lipetskaya Ulitsa at the next junction. Turn right off MKAD, there is sign for the centre on the right hand side, through one set of traffic lights.

Obviously your car needs to be in good working condition. Brakes, lights, windscreen wipers (ensure that you have windscreen wiper fluid), thread on tires, your horn may all be tested. Exhaust fumes will be sampled on older cars to ensure that the exhaust emissions pass the established norms. You need a medical kit, fire extinguisher and accident luminescent triangle, all of which should be Euro-standard certified (no cheap Chinese counterfeits). Tinted films on windows need to be removed to clear windows, as technically it is against the law to drive in Russia with windows. If you have to re-register your car every three months, this can present problems. The vehicle needs to be clean and, (as it happens), there is a convenient carwash right next door.

You need your driving license, insurance certifi cate, “PTS” and car registration document to get the Technicheski Ospmotr. You also need, as I found out at the last moment, a medical certificate, which is valid for three years, stating that you are fit to drive. This is not as problematic as it may appear. There are countless private medical clinics all over Moscow where you can become medically certified fit. You can find out the location of the nearest one to you by entering in: медициская справка для ТО into a search browser. The procedures involved can verge on the farcical, charge is 550 roubles at time of going to press; however if you go to such an establishment early in the morning, you should have your certificate in 45 minutes. In general, if your vehicle is in reasonable working order, obtaining a Tekhnicheski Ospmotr is not a problem. Staff seem to be used to testing decent foreign cars in good working order. If you drive an old Russian vehicle, the GIBDD may make you come back several times before you pass all the tests.

The Technicheski Ospmotr centre on Lipetskaya Ulitsa

The problem, at Tsaritsina, is purely bureaucratic: paying two fees; one for the actual Tekhnicheski Ospmotr document of 30 rubles, and a tax fee of 350 rubles. When I arrived there after a 4 hour drive around MKAD from Lobninskaya Ulitsa, during which I had time to contemplate on the wisdom of driving in Moscow at all; no information of where and how to pay these sums was on public display. One Indian journalist mercifully gave me a photocopy of the paying-in slips that can be used to pay at the local Sberbank, which is in within walking distance. She told me that she only obtained the forms by begging for them from an official. Don’t try to drive to the local Sberbank; because there is a vicious one-way system, whereas it only takes ten minutes to walk there if you don’t get run over crossing the main road.

When I returned the next day, the GIBDD official explained to me why the information is not on display: “Here’s the notice board.” The officer pointed towards an empty display case. “ People come and force the case open and rip out the documents inside. I can’t keep on putting new documents up every day.” I sympathized with him on that freezing winter morning, when I forgot to take my gloves with me, however only to a certain extent. There is a phone number on the form, which should be in the display case where you can book a time when your car will be examined. This is usually a few days later, but well worth the wait. You should arrive at least an hour before your appointment. Good luck!

Web sources (in Russian, as we haven’t found any English-language sites yet):  

If you can understand Russian officialise, and are prepared to wade through pages of information, it is all here.  

This is a simplified explanation of how to register a car, in Russian, and not for foreigners, although most of the general rules are the same.  
Site listing different kinds of number plates

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