Russia Driving Advice and Car Hire Info

Driving in Russia-

You should check your Government’s website before driving abroad near the border with the Ukrainian Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkiv regions. Also if planning to travel near Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan and the districts of Budyonnovsky, Levokumsky, Neftekumsky, Stepnovsky and Kursky in Stavropol Krai , North Ossetia, Karachai-Cherkessia and Kabardino-Balkaria, as there may be travel advisories in place for these areas.

Russia drives on the right and you will need your own Photo driving licence and a 1949 convention International Driving permit, or even better, a notarised Russian translation of your licence to drive in Russia.All vehciles must carry a warning triangle,first aid kit, fire extinguisher and spare headlight bulbs. If driving your own vehicle you must carry a green card insurance certificate valid for Russia and ownership papers. Speed limits are 110kmh on motorways and expressways and between 60kmh and 20kmh in urban areas.

The new M11 Motorway between Moscow and St Petersburg has an upper speed limit of 130kmh. This newly constructed multi lane highway has cut travel time between the two cities from 10 hours on the old M10 motorway to just 5 hours. The route is a toll road with a charge of around 30USD per car using the road.

Other Russian Highways which have stretches of road classed as motorways are –

The M2 which runs from Moscow and travels south-west, bypassing the cities of Tula, Oryol, Kursk and Belgorod before terminating at the border with Ukraine at Hoptivka. The road then continues through Kharkov and Zaporizhia to Simferopol and Yalta as the Ukrainian M20 and M18. It is part of the European route E105 and is 720 kilometres in length.

The M4, which is classed as an expressway linking Moscow, Voronezh, Rostov-na-Donu and Krasnodar. Its length is 1517 kilometres.

The M5 (also known as the Ural Highway) which runs for 1879 km from Moscow to the Ural Mountains. It crosses nine regions of Russia to Chelyabinsk. The road continues as R254 from Chelyabinsk east to Omsk, Novosibirsk and Irkutsk .It is part of the European route E30 and the Trans-Siberian Highway.

The M8, also known as the Kholmogory Highway or Yaroslavl highway, which runs North from Moscow for 1270km to the port of Arkhangelsk and the city of Severodvinsk .

The M9, also known as the Baltic Highway,which  is a 610 km-long route that leads from Moscow through Volokolamsk to Russia’s border with Latvia. The highway forms a part of the European route E22 which continues across the border to Rēzekne and Riga.

The St Petersburg ring road also has some stretches classed as motorway.

This website has information on paying tolls on Russian roads. Payment can be made at toll gates on the motorway or via a transponder fitted to vehicles. If renting a car, check whether it has a toll transponder fitted.

Main roads and roads in cities are generally in good condition but will deteriorate in rural areas particularly in the winter. Russian drivers tend to like driving fast and you will doubtless encounter numerous BMW and Mercedes flying up behind you at high speed when driving around the main cities. There is little infrastructure on Russian roads outside Cities apart from on the main highways. There are few restaurants, gas stations or toilets. Luckily there are plenty of wooded areas! You should aim to be as self sufficient as possible on a long journey and make sure your vehicle has all the basics – fill up with fuel whenever you get chance.

An anomaly of driving in Russia is that although they drive on the right, especially in the East of the country, most cars are imported from Japan and are right hand drive. This makes overtaking difficult –cars need to pull right out into the opposing lane in order to see whether its safe to pull out. Bear this in mind when driving and take great care when overtaking.

Russia has extreme winters and you should check local conditions before setting out on any journey, particularly beyond urban areas.Driving in Moscow, or any big City, is likely to be stressful – there are lots of cars on the roads, congestion is commonplace and most signs are in Cyrillic. If you can avoid driving in Cities you should. If you must drive in a City,you’ll need a good satnav or you could ask the rental company if they’ll drive you to/from the outskirts. If you get lost, as a last resort, provide the address you’re seeking (in Cyrillic) to a taxi driver and ask if you can follow him. Theres a zero tolerance approach to drink driving in Russia and police stops are frequent, as are ‘fines’ or bribes for misdemeanours, real or imagined. Drive confidently, but defensively and try and stay under the speed limit at all times.Also driving a dirty car is technically illegal in Russia though in the depths of winter you’ll obviously struggle with that rule!

Although I try and keep the information in the site updated as much as possible, in a rapidly moving world, situations can change daily. Therefore please use the site as an approximate guide, and in conjunction with other resources in order to form your view on driving conditions, roads, safety etc.

Russia Car Rental –

Sixt, Hertz, Europcar, National,Avis, Dollar, and Thrifty have outlets in major towns across Russia. Also usually features on Car rental broker sites.

We currently have no local car rental partners in Russia. If you are a local car rental company who would like to feature on please check details on our Partnering page or contact us on

Russia Self Drive Rules-

Self Drive Rules vary depending on the rental company and the location you rent from . Most of the big companies have offices in Moscow and St Petersburg and if you plan to take the car beyond the metropolitan area of the city you rented it in you should advise the company at the time of reservation. They usually allow one way rentals for free within the City you rented from.  Its generally allowed to take the car to other parts of Russia though there are some restrictions -Sixt prevent cars from being taken to -Republic of Adygeya, Karachai-Circassian Republic, Kabardino-Balkarian Republic,North Ossetia and Alania Republic, Republic of Ingooshetia, Chechen Republic and DagestanRepublic. Hertz have 35 locations across Russia. They allow cars hired in St Petersburg to be taken to Finland and Sweden for an additional charge.


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