How I Got An Unlimited Russian Residence Permit

You might be thinking of getting a Russian residence permit if things are starting to get serious between you and the Motherland.

I will tell you the story of how I got an unlimited Russian residency permit.  By unlimited, I mean a Russian residence permit “with no expiration date”.  This is the result of a new law that came into effect on November 1, 2019, simplifying both the requirements for residency permits in Russia and also making these permits free of expiration dates.

I won’t tell you every single step, because that would require much more than a blog post.  That would be sort of like doing an interview with Neil Armstrong on the lunar surface and asking, “How does a man get on the moon?”.

If you are looking for a to-do list on getting a Russian residence permit, there are plenty of good resources online.  If you would like someone to guide you through the process, I will provide a recommendation at the end of this post.  Because I’m not that guy.

Here are a few points to get started with for applying for your Russian residence permit.  There are exceptions to nearly every point, but in most cases:

  • In order to get a permanent residence permit in Russia, you will first need to get a temporary residency permit.
  • In order to get a temporary residence permit, you will first need to already be in Russia, which in most cases, will mean you need a visa.
  • Owning real estate in Russia does not guarantee residency, but it does simplify the process.  Because otherwise, you will need to find a good friend who will register you in their home.  Not always an easy task.  As a point of product placement in this blog post, I might mention that I run a real estate agency in Moscow, and we are seeing a rapidly growing number of foreigners make the decision to buy their own home.  This will certainly ease the residence application for them if they choose to follow that route.
  • You will need to pass a Russian language, history and law test (more on that later)
  • You will also need to pass various medical tests (such as TB, HIV).

I’m smiling on the inside, like a Russian, after receiving my unlimited residence permit.

Here’s the great news.  In the past, the “permanent” Russia residence permits needed to be renewed every 5 years.  Not the end of the world, but also not my favorite procedure.

But as of December 1, 2019, all Russia permanent residence permits are now without an expiration date.  That means if you already have a Russia permanent residence permit, the next time you need to get a renewal, it will be for a shiny new residence permit, happily free of any expiration date.

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If you are going for renewal, here is the list of necessary documents, according to my local immigration office:


This notice reads that in order to renew your Russia residence permit you will need:

  • To write an appeal letter for renewal (an example is found in the bottom third of this page).
  • Your passport and notarized passport translation.
  • Your current residence permit.
  • A document proving that you passed the Russian language, history, and law tests.
  • 2 photos, 35X45 on non-glossy photo paper.
  • And your receipt of paying the related fees.  Currently, that amount is 5000 rubles.  Which means if you have 4 kids and 1 wife, like this blogger, the total fees will be 30,000 rubles.

If you have already received your temporary residence permit you will agree with me- this could not possibly be any simpler.  But if you have renewed before, the new system might make you uneasy, just like it did me.  You see, in the past, you had to apply for renewal no later than 2 months before your residence permit was due for expiration.

However, the wording of the law under the renewal/no expiration date reform states that you can apply during the validity period of your current residence permit.  I hate keeping anything until the last minute.  So, in all, I paid 11 visits to my local immigration office over a period of 2 months.  Each time, I found a bit more useful information that was helpful in the process and was told to come back last minute.

If you are from a country that requires a visa to enter Russia, it is strongly recommended that you apply further in advance than we did!

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It’s probably worth mentioning that the lines in the immigration offices have become much more organized, much less desperate, and happily shorter, due to many people making appointments online.  It’s a much better system.  The lines didn’t really bother me during those 11 visits.  I do have queue experience, and I’ve learned that these types of situations in Russia are much more about a journey than a formula.  Once you learn that philosophical truth you will find life to be much more enjoyable.

And I do have a little experience with queues in Russia. 🙂

Long story short, two weeks of relative uneasiness, and yesterday we received our unlimited Russia residence permits.  Of course, this story is not over, because you have 7 days to get registered, so will be scrambling to do that after I write this blog post.

The Russian Language, History, and Law Test

This is sort of a side-show that perhaps deserves its own blog post.  If you have already done the test in the past 5 years, you shouldn’t have to do it again.  I had never done the test before.  Here are a few points that I still remember.

  • The year that the Romanov dynasty began.
  • If you adopt a child in Russia, you can’t marry them later.  I think if you fail that question you should not be allowed to get a residence permit anywhere.
  • There was an uprising in 1825.  Not sure what the kerfuffle was all about, but I know the year.
  • Your employer in Russia does not have the right to take away your passport.  There were quite a few points about labor law, presumably to protect new immigrants.
  • There is a fish festival in Moscow every year.  We listened to an audio segment about this and then answered questions.
  • I wrote a letter to an imaginary friend describing how I had taken part in a dance competition in Moscow.

Come to think of it, that’s all I remember!  Which is sort of surprising because I think I answered 100% of the answers right.  I’m not bragging.  I’m just saying.

Try a Sample Russian Language Test

Try a Sample Russian History Test

Try a Sample Russian Law Test

If you speak Russian and can memorize facts, it’s not too difficult.  Much easier than a Russian driver’s license test.

If you are serious about getting Russian residency, and want a guide, you can contact my friend Dmitry Phillipov here.  Dmitry is great and has helped a lot of folks. Dmitry’s consultations start at 250 euros, so only serious inquiries.   If you are at the beginning of your journey to Russia, I recommend that you start off with some time on Google and a visa.  

As for me, I guess the next step for me is to apply for Russian citizenship.  Because when it comes to love for the Motherland… it’s all about the journey.




5 thoughts on “How I Got An Unlimited Russian Residence Permit

  1. Thanks for this article. I’m looking forward to following some of the links yet too. I’m confused tho – you don’t mention marriage. Don’t you need to marry a Russian to qualify for temporary residence?

    Also, what you mentioned about owning property or having a friend register you. Is this different than the standard required registration that every foreigner needs to do? I’m renting and my landlord registers me. Thanks in advance for your response!

    • Hi Jeremy, Great questions. No, marriage to a Russian is not required… I am married to an American. I do think that marriage to a Russian does create a simplified process, but don’t know for sure because I didn’t do it that way. The registration is different than what you have now because it is more long term and most Russian landlords are very wary of it. That’s why I say owning your own property simplifies the process. I have helped foreigners secure the trust and long-term registration, but they are certainly the exception in this situation.

  2. Hi,
    I married a Russian citizen (Ossetian) in January and applied for my rvp two days later, having spent a couple of months prior collecting all the necessary documents. I also bought a condo in Vladikavkaz where we live. Last week we learned that my application has been rejected, apparently because my wife and I rented an apartment for a few weeks while being registered at her parents’ residence before moving into our own place–i.e., we are accused of having “provided false information”. So, despite the new “streamlining” laws, neither marriage nor real estate necessarily simplify the process of getting residency.

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