There are two difficulties with renting a car in Russia. One is that it is particularly expensive compared to other parts of the world and the other is that the traffic can be horrendous, especially in Moscow where entire motorways can come to a standstill. Avoiding the rush hour is a must.
Outside of the main cities the rural areas present their own difficulties and roads there are often poorly maintained with few road markings. Russia is to invest a lot of money into building roads and it needs it; to date there is no motorway connecting Moscow and St Petersburg. If you do not speak Russian then it is advisable to have a guide as the countryside can be quite dangerous. Car hire Russia can offer chauffeur driven vehicles.
If you plan to enter Russia from one of the many surrounding countries discuss this with your rental agents and make sure that you have applied for the appropriate visas well in advance. Driving in Russia takes plenty of forward planning. If you are driving in some of the more out-of-the-way parts of Russia it is usual for highway patrol police (GAI) at regular roadblocks to ask for a bribe from customers with an international license plate. In fact there are so many driving rules that you will probably have broken one of them and it saves a lot of time just to pay up. Police also have the power to issue on the spot fines at all times.
Some of the more important rules which you could get caught out on: It is illegal to pick up hitchhikers, you must drive with dipped headlights during the day and it is illegal to drive a dirty car.
You also need to have the following things in the car;
A warning triangle in case you break down
A first aid kit
A fire extinguisher
Winter is the most dangerous time of year to drive in Russia for obvious reasons. You must make sure that you have winter tyres fitted and snow chains to hand. These can be obtained cheaply from your car rental company. Follow the weather reports closely and try not to venture out in snowstorms.
Russia has one of the world's highest rates of alcohol related accidents and that is why there is a zero tolerance policy to drink-driving.
If you are involved in an accident or your car breaks down, you must contact the police as well as a break down organisation. Do not move the vehicle in the meantime unless it is dangerous to keep it where it is. Your car hire company should give you free breakdown cover.
It is mandatory to for all passengers to wear seatbelts in the front seat and back seats.
Motorways are designated by numbers.
Petrol is quite cheap compared to the rest of Europe though the quality can vary sometimes. Have some cash on you as many stations do not accept cards. 95 RON costs 0.798 USD on average. Unleaded, leaded and diesel are available but LPG is hard to find. Petrol stations are quite spread out so fill up when you can.
Russia has zero tolerance to drink driving and so if you are found with any alcohol in your blood stream there will be serious penalties.
You may drive a car in Russia on a UK Driving licence, although all drivers using national licenses should also obtain a notarised Russian translation Driving licence. Russian driving licences only last as long as your visa. You should also have your insurance and vehicle registration documents in the car rental paperwork. You may need to obtain a translation of these as well with an international registration certificate.
You can use a national driving licence if you are from the United Kingdom or the EU. But it is a good idea to have an International Driving Permit.
Good Morning - Dobraye utra
Goodbye - Paka
How are you? - Kak dila?
Pleased to meet you - Ochen priyatna
Yes - Da
There are some toll roads in the Barnaul and Pskov Region and the Pechori state border.
60 km per hour in built up areas
90 km per hour outside of built up areas
110 km per hour on motorways
If you have held a licence for under two years you should not go more than 70 km
The conversion from kilometres to miles per hour is one kilometre = 0.62 miles per hour. Therefore the speed limit in built-up areas in kilometres is 37 miles.
The minimum driving age is 18. Most car hire companies require you to be over 25 years of age with some driving experience.
The fire service is on 01, the police are on 02 and the medical services are on 03. You can call to report gas leaks on 04.
Like the traffic, parking in Moscow is chaotic. Although the government tried to impose paid for parking this was rejected by Russians. Today most people still park when and where they want to.
It is good to choose a hotel which gives you free parking or choose to park the car near in an underground garage if you want it to be totally safe.