Renting a Car in Russia
Let's talk about renting a car in Russia. There is some information a foreigner should know before even going to Russia. When it comes to choosing a good car rental Russia is still a little behind most European countries and the U.S. However, this business is growing fast right now, and you'll have a great choice of car rentals in big cities, especially if you need to rent a car in Moscow and Moscow Area.
If you want to drive a car in Russia, you will need a proper valid driver's license. Even though, driver's licenses of some European countries are excepted in Russia, in most cases foreigners are required to have an International Driving Permit to even book a car. You can get it for a small fee in your own country. All you need is to bring your national driver's license and the international one will be given to you without a driver's test.
My advice is: if you do not have an International Driving Permit, DO NOT rent a car in Russia.
No matter what they tell you at the car rental Russia is not the place to play with the law. Even if the car rental company provides you with a vehicle without paying proper attention to your documentation and later you have an accident your car insurance provided by the rental company will be invalid. Besides my experience shows that in Russia your vehicle can be stopped and inspected by a traffic control agent even if you do NOT violate any rules or break any laws. If you do not have an International Driving Permit you may be arrested because the agent is not familiar with your type of driver's license or does not know if it is accepted on the Russian territory.
The rates usually start at 1300 rubles per day (approximately $45) and can be up to 7000 rubles ($230) for big off-road vehicles, SUVs and limos. However, Russian companies provide a special discount for those who book a car for more than 3 days, 1 week, 2 weeks, or 1 month. In most cases you can pay in cash; through bank transfer; credit cards, like Visa, MasterCard, American Express; or even Russian online payment systems, like WebMoney and YandexMoney.
Ask for an all-in price before you rent a car in Russia. The rate in the ad may not include the tax, insurance or other charges. However, when you choose the package, do not fall for the lowest price too soon, because it may have limited mileage and travel limitations.
If you rent a car in Moscow, you may only be allowed to drive the car within Moscow and Moscow Area. If you go outside the Moscow Area, a daily traveling distance limit (ex.: driving not more than 250 km/155 miles per day) or extra charges may apply.
If you want to book a car in advance and to have it ready for you at the airport, or you want it to be picked up at a certain location after you used it, most companies will charge you extra.
Various kinds of cars are usually available for rent, but they are mostly foreign cars. Even though you can find some Russian cars at a car rental Russia is known for the quality of its roads and cars, which leave much to be desired at the present moment. Here are the common car makes that most car rental places offer: Renault, Peugeot, Hyundai, Skoda, Mitsubishi, KIA, Nissan, Chevrolet, Ford, Citroen, Opel, Toyota, Dodge, Mazda, and Honda. The rental rates are different for each rental car.
With or Without a Driver
In Russia you can rent a car with or without a driver. If you want to travel long distances and independently, you may want to rent a car for yourself. However, if you are visiting the capital and need to have someone drive for you, you can also rent a car in Moscow with a driver. It helps if you don't know the city and it will cost less than any Moscow taxi even though it is still about twice more expensive than renting a car without a driver.
Minimum age requirement for renting a car in Moscow or any other city can be different in every company. In some rental companies it is 19, in others it is 22. Minimum driving experience should be 1 or 2 years.
Before going to Russia, read some basic Russian traffic regulations. Here are some that may be useful for you:
It's a country of left-hand driving.
There is no right or left turn on red.
The speed limit within the city is 60 kmh/37 mph.
The speed limit outside the city is 90 kmh/56 mph.
The speed limit on the freeway is 110kmh/68 mph (90 kmh/56 mph for motorcycles).
Sometimes it is better to book a car online in advance. Some sites may even provide you with a free weather forecast and information about road conditions for the time of your travel, as this knowledge may be very useful in Russia winter.