Blog - Russian driver's license

Added on Wednesday, 2012-02-29 20:47 CET in category Moscow
Just after I recently acquired my permanent residence permit, I found out my Dutch driver's license would lose its validity in Russia 60 days after, and that I would be needing to get a Russian one instead.

Now I'd of course heard plenty of horror stories about passing the driver's exam in Russia, which without bribing is pretty much impossible, or so I'm told. It's also no secret a lot of Russians simply "buy" their driver's license to avoid dealing with all the hassle. The ensuing chaos and incredibly rude behavior on the streets don't really make things much easier…

So far I'd managed to acquire all my documents legally, and wasn't going to give up so easily! Fortunately for me, already having a foreign driver's license only required me to take the theoretical exam, and not the actual driver's test. The exam is done on a computer, where you are assigned a random batch of 20 questions. All the 40 batches * 20 questions per batch = 800 questions in total are publicly available, and you get the results already at the end of the test, so there's not much room for deliberately making you fail.

The questions are to a large extent the same as in the Netherlands, with questions about giving way, being allowed to turn left/right/around, and so forth, with a few notable exceptions:
  • In all the questions, pedestrians and cyclists always have way;
  • The answer "up to you" is never the correct one;
  • A shepherd with its flock is considered a driver;
  • And if you really don't know, the longest answer is usually the correct one.

The entire process was relatively easy. I needed my foreign driver's license translated and needed a few copies of other documents. I also needed a medical statement, saying I was fit to drive a car. This can mean spending a day in a public hospital to collect the 15 or so stamps (eye doctor, narcologist, psychologist, etc.), or you could go to a private clinic, pay € 25, and be done within half an hour.

After handing in all the documents, I sat down and took the exam, drove to the bank to pay for the license (another measly € 20), had my picture taken, and was handed my brand new driver's license! The entire process took about an hour and a half, and off I was! Things are getting easier and easier, hopefully they'll continue to be so :)