Applying for Temporary (And Then Full) Residency …one Ex-Pat’s experience


By David Maltby

We’ve all been through the visa hoops and obstacles over the years. If you’re reading this in Russia then chances are these challenges are recent and real.

One alternative to the visa regime is to consider the Temporary Residency in Russian known as

‘Pазрешения На Bременное Проживание’ and then full Residency ‘Бид На Жительство’ application process. I’ve done this twice now and I have say it’s much easier now, than what it used to be. The attitude has also changed – at least in my local region УФМС (Federal Migration Service) office. Gone are the forbidding and slightly scary Soviet battle-axes with the ‘They shall not pass’ mind-set. There are now some very capable people doing what appears to be a thankless and very labour intensive task.

It’s not all good news. You have to put in some effort, get up early and queue, be patient and answer the bureaucracy with immaculately prepared documentation. You may also have to make repeat visits. However once the treasured stamp is yours, you then get a free visa for 3 years, coming and going as you please.

So how do you go about getting РвП? Well, here’s my story, but first some caveats:

• I’m no expert on this, I’m just relaying my own experience.

• I know from talking to others that their experience does vary a little from mine.

• Each Migration Service office has its own little foibles… this is not a consistent process at all.

• Best to have native speaker support if you can get it. Mine came in the form of my good wife, without whose help I would have been still queuing now.

This isn’t a specialist view, it’s a simplified one. If you want the full story, take a look at the FMS web site, listed below.

The first thing to check, before organising your paperwork, is do you qualify? I’m writing this for the benefit of European expats and not for former Soviet Union citizens – they have different rules.

You can qualify by ticking one or more of the following boxes;

• Being married to a Russian national.

• Being a parent or a child of a Russian national.

• Being here on a highly qualified specialist visa or the spouse of a specialist.

• Being an inward investor.

There are others, but these are the main ones. One of the first things to check is the ФМС web site. The requirements change from time to time so this is the best source. At this time of writing this it is necessary to provide the following documents. I’m adding some additional info here as there are some tricks to know.

A current passport with more than six months to run.

In fact if you have less than a year to go then it’s probably better to renew it, as there’s a long time for this process to run, and when you get a new passport, you must have a new registration stamp, residency permit and visa put into the new one.

You will also need 3 notarised copies of your passport with a translation. At this point it’s probably worth mentioning that only Russian language documentation is accepted so all foreign language documents have to be translated and notarized. You’ll also need a 35 x 45mm photo, with the usual quality rules that all Embassies now insist on.

Your contract of employment.

It can be a dual language contract. If you aren’t employed you can take an ‘Individual Entrepreneur’ tax status document. This really means Freelance and you can qualify for 6% income tax. However this is a different story and I may write about that in the future. My local office also required a normal photocopy. On the FMS web site the contract is not listed, but my local office did ask for it. You can also provide proof of income such as investment income or a pension. All documentation needs to be translated into Russian and Notarised.

Your registration document.

If you own your one place, you will need your SVIDELSTVO document and a notarized copy of it. If you don’t own your own place, the bad news is that you’ll need your landlord with you. However if they’re a decent sort, that might be a help in pushing you up the queues. It’s not my own experience but I’ve heard that some offices will accept a letter from the landlord, but I imagine that’s not the norm.

You will also need your criminal record document from your home country. A word of warning for the Brits. There are 2 documents available, don’t get the wrong one! You need the full ‘ACPO’ document not the quick one which anyone can get. That also has to be apostilled. As a general note, an apostille is needed on foreign government-issued or foreign institution-issued documents.

I found the best way to do this was get the ACPO record sent directly to a company called ‘Hague Apostille’s see their site You can do this on the Hague Apostille application form. You can also arrange express service. This is important as you have a 3 month shelf life on all these documents. Once you go over the time limit you start again. Hague Apostille will then send the documents to you via DHL. Note that, in Russia, DHL don’t deliver packages to home addresses but they will deliver a document.

You will then have to have the ACPO document and the apostille translated and notarised here in Moscow. As the lead time in getting this Criminal Record document sorted out is the longest, it’s better to get this document done sooner rather than later.

You will need a Spravka from your bank, although they are so used to knocking these out, there’s no hassles here.

The migration card you received at the passport control coming in is also necessary.

If you are married, you will need your marriage certificate. Mine’s Russian but you may have a foreign language one. Unfortunately for you, it will have to be apostilled, translated, notarized… you are beginning to get the picture. Same with kids birth certificates.


It used to be the case that you had to provide your diploma or degree. These days it seems they’re not interested. I was told that for full residency, they don’t want it, but I’ve got it just in case.

However, they do require you to take and pass a Language proficiency test. What fun. In reality it’s not just a language test. You need a basic understanding of grammar, comprehension, writing, history, a little law and social studies. For the РвП it’s quite easy. However for full residency the pass mark is quite high at 80%. It shouldn’t be underestimated. You will need the language certificate. However, full residency lasts for 5 years. There are now a number of commercial schools and some of the institutes offering courses for this. You can also find practice test papers on the Internet.

A word or two on the medical certificates you’ll need to get. There are the usual HIV and blood tests, confirming you’re not a junkie or alcoholic, plus a fluoroscan (maybe an X-ray at some older places) and a TB (Tubercolosis) test. There is also, believe it or not, a leprosy test. Several hundred years since it was eradicated in UK, but yes you still need to be tested. So you get 3 medical certificates, which you exchange for one, and that goes with your application.

Obviously too, you’ll need a completed application form. Personally I’d recommend you to get a Russian national to complete it. It’s used as a stone-walling device. It needs to be grammatically perfect. It also has weird quirks – one example is where your family members have to be listed in birthdate order. I made the cardinal error of listing them alphabetically and of course was rejected first time round. There is no guidance on the form. However in the migration service office there are guidance notes plastered over the walls. I simply photographed them.

The state fee for the temporary residency is 1,600 roubles. I once had a quote from a company to do this, for $6,000. The most obvious comment I have is, why? These support companies can’t take the medicals for you, they can’t apply for your criminal record, they can’t take the language tests and they can’t gather all the rest of the paperwork. You have to do that. You also have to go to УФМС in person, so you are paying $6,000 to have someone go there with you. Personally, I’m not that lonely and I’d rather have the money in my pocket not someone else’s. If your Russian isn’t up to it, I’m sure a translator or one of the good people from English language Facebook groups could be negotiated with.

Give it a couple of months or so and you can go to collect the temporary residence stamp in the passport, your new visa and a pair of very inky hands as a result of being finger printed. If you’re self- employed, you also have a Work Permit along with your Residency, as a bonus.

So there you have it. Yes it’s involved and you have to put some effort in, but you can do it for small money. On the other hand, you can pay someone to sit with you and pay a fortune. At the time of writing this article, I’m hearing that the local migration offices are being closed and a new central Moscow one is coming on line. More about that in the next article.