If you are going on the trip to Russia, there is a chance you might be looking at an option of getting a car rental. It’s not very common for tourists to rent a car in Russia but if you are planning a longer trip and wanting to visit some other cities besides Moscow and St. Petersburg, then it might make sense to travel by car.
There is not a lot of information out there about renting a car in Russia so in this post I would like to give you a few tips. As always, if you have any questions on the topic don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below this article!
- 1. Should you rent a car in Russia or not?
The answer is definitely not if you are only going to visit Moscow and Saint Petersburg. It’s just not worth it because of the ease of getting around there by public transportation. Another reason not to rent a car in Moscow is horrible traffic, which the Russian capital is well-known for.
If you still want to get around by car in the big cities, instead of renting a car consider taking Uber which is cheap and stress-free. Driving in Moscow and St. Petersburg can get pretty stressful at times and I don’t think any of you would want to deal with the crazy Russian drivers.
On the other hand, if you are planning to visit multiple places, for example, the Golden Ring cities, then renting a car might not be a bad idea. It will let you travel and explore places with having more freedom and on your own schedule. Still, this is something to think about and consider all the pros and cons depending on your itinerary and level of confidence of driving in a different country.
- 2. What are the requirements to be able to rent a car?
Obviously, you have to have a passport and a valid driver’s license (have to be in possession at least for 2 years). Some nationalities require having an International Driver’s Permit.
Speaking of the US citizens, a valid US license will work to rent a car in Russia if you have a certified notarized translation of the document in Russian to go with it. It’s not a complicated task which can be easily done online if you Google for “notarized translation English to Russian”. Such a translation service will cost you about $20-$25.
A minimum age of a renter is different at all places but usually, it is 19+ and most car rentals will charge young drivers an additional fee (for example, it is 500 Rubles per day with Sixt). At Rent Motors company, a driver’s minimum age is 23.
- 3. Rent a car at the airport.
If you decided to get a car rental in Russia, I would only recommend renting from the airport locations.
First off, you’ll avoid driving in the city center. Driving by the airports is not as crazy so it’ll be a lot easier to adapt and get used to driving in a different environment.
Second, workers at the airports will most likely speak English and in case of any problems, it’ll be a lot easier to communicate with them.
I recommend using car rental companies such as Avis, Sixt, Rent Motors, TIS Car. The best place to search for a rental in Russia and to make an online reservation is Holiday Autos service.
- 4. Do you need an insurance?
All rentals automatically include in its rate a third party basic insurance coverage – Collision Damage Waiver and Theft Protection (deductible is different for all companies; as an example, if you rent with Sixt deductible is 18,000 Rubles).
If you are not very confident driving in Russia, I do think it’s best to purchase an additional full coverage insurance (in case of an accident you don’t pay a deductible). I mean, you will pay more per day but at least you won’t have to worry and stress as much while driving. I’m sure it’s the last thing you would want on your trip is to be paranoid like “what if something happens and I get in an accident”. Getting a full coverage insurance will definitely ease your mind. I personally always get a full coverage when renting a car in a foreign country.
A full coverage car rental insurance in Russia is very cheap – for example, it is 700 Rubles per day if you rent with Rent Motors company.
- 5. How much does it cost to rent a car in Russia?
Renting a car in Russia is pretty affordable and will cost you about $30-$50 per day for the cheapest economy car like Hyundai Solaris or Kia Rio (remember, it also includes the basic insurance in its price as well).
Renting a BMW, Audi or Mercedes will cost you about $70-$80 per day.
Another good reason to drive in Russia is that gas prices are lower compared to the US and EU countries. At the moment of writing this article as of April 2018, a price for the regular gas in Russia is about 39 Rubles per liter which is under 150 Rubles a gallon.
- 6. Learn Russian alphabet and traffic regulations.
The most challenging part of driving in Russia is that most signs are written in Cyrillic alphabet and some people might have a hard time navigating around.
That’s why I highly recommend to get familiar with the Russian alphabet and print out in advance names of the cities that you are going to travel to in Russian.
For example, Moscow in Russian is “Москва”, Kazan is “Казань”, Yaroslavl is “Ярославль”, Saint Petersburg is “Санкт-Петербург”.
Regarding traffic regulations, driving in Russia is on the right-hand side. All passengers in the vehicle must have a seatbelt on. Like in Europe, no turn on the red light is allowed unless there are a separate amber light flashes.
The speed limit in urban areas within the city is 60 km/h, on most highways and roads outside the city is 90 km/h. Some expressways have a higher speed limit – 110 km/h.
Generally speaking, you can go 10-15 km/h over the speed limit without getting in trouble. If driving 20+ km/h over, there is a good chance you will get a fine or will get pulled over. You could also get pulled over for a random document check which is not unusual in Russia.
These are some of the most important things you need to know if you are considering to rent a car in Russia. Drive safe and be careful, friends!