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Europe Topics specific to Western and Eastern Europe, from UK to the Russian border, and south-east to Turkey.
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  #1  
Old 17 Dec 2010
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Entering the Baltic States from Russia

Hi

After being out of the EU for three and a half years in my car, I'm dipping in again to the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland)... and want to know how 'strict' they are. I am travelling in my own, British car. I've been in Russia some time, and have no EU (Green card) insurance.

My main questions are:

Can I buy insurance at the Russia / Estonia border (main road from St Peterburg). If so, will it be valid just in Estonia, or also Latvia and Lithuania?

Do I NEED (i.e. by law) to have winter tyres?

Do I need to have my headlights on at all times?

Do the police frequently stop cars and check paperwork?

Also, my car (British) has suffered a little on Asia's treacherous roads, thought it runs fine and is in pretty good shape considering, it would not however pass a UK MOT at the moment. Will I have problems with:

-A cracked windscreen

-Missing mudflaps

-No rear fog light

Thanks

Daniel
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  #2  
Old 17 Dec 2010
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As I saw last week, Green Cards are sold on the Russian side of borders to both Finland and Latvia. I was not looking when I crossed the Estonia (Narva/Ivangorod) border recently but there are similar shops or kiosks selling Russian Insurance so I would expect there would be ones selling green cards.
Alternatively contact Stuart Collins and Co European Motor Insurance and Annual Green Cards who specialise in EU Insurance for UK registered vehicles (but not bikes) that are kept out of UK for long periods.

I din't know about winter or studded tyres being compulsory - only because I have them anyway for Russian winters. (Actually they are proving useful right now - I am back in UK for a few weeks!)

I am unsure if lights are compulsory in Baltic States as they are in Russia - but everyone seemed to use them. It's always a good plan to copy locals!

I have never been stopped west of Russia for the sort of random documents checks that are such an annoyance of everyday life in Russia. You only get stopped if you appear to have doine something wrong.

A cracked screen will fail a UK MOT if the cracks are in the main area swept by a wiper in front of the drivers see -MOT UK car and vehicle MOT information equipment car servicing parts and spares - power steering

The same Manual should answer your other MOT queries.
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  #3  
Old 17 Dec 2010
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Thanks a lot for that info.

So, the green card would be valid in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, Belarus (??), and presumably Russia too?

Does the guy in the UK do short term insurance cover??

Winter tyres would be great, but they are damn expensive, and using 4WD helps. That said, I've left the road twice so far...

Maybe I wasn't clear on the MOT thing... for sure it would not pass a UK MOT. But I'm not going to the UK (Thank God).. I'm wondering if the guys at the border in Estonia / Poland etc will care?

Thanks again

Daniel, in Russia, laughing at people whining back home about an inch of snow and -2º.
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Old 18 Dec 2010
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Your UK registered vehicle only needs an MOT if on public roads in UK - likewise Road Tax (see threads ad-nausium). It should, however, always comply with all UK Construction and Use requirements (not quite the same thing) to be permissable for use for tourist purposes in other countries under the Geneva Treaties.

Winter tyres do not seem very expensive in Russia. They have a competitive, volume market.
For my car (Ford Mondeo) studded winter tyres cost under GBP100 each in total, including new steel rims, fitting, balancing and cleaning and wrapping the 'summer' wheels/tyres. Considerably cheaper than a 'normal' tyre in UK. I used a tyre/shinomontage place - you can buy some tyre sizes even cheaper in supermarkets like Auchan but you need to find a fitter.
And they are good - not a hint of wheelspin, drifting or locking on a snowy trip from Moscow to Helsinki and back - then 2 days later in heavy snowstorms in Latvia, Lithuania and Poland on my way to UK.
And tonight around the untreated snowy/icy lanes of South Buckinghamshire they proved worth every Kopeika!

A green card is generally valid only for the countries specified/agreed. If you have insurance in one EU state it should automatically include minimum legal cover in all other EU states.
These two statements are not necessarily related.

I suggest you phone or Email and ask the brokers I gave you the link to. They know what they sell - I only know what they say on their Website (plus I am on old motorsport buddy of the owner). Their phone numbers and Email are shown.

I use my UK insurance throughout EU up to Russian borders and purchase Russian Insurance at borders. I've not driven/ridden in Ukraine (not on my routes) nor in Belarus (to save another Visa and a very boring journey).



I'm not whining - but now driving in UK almost normally and laughing at people who try to save by not buying the proper equipment for proper winter conditions, and seeing where they left the road!!
Twice so far? Hmmm. Still laughing?

Don't put such a price on the safety of others and yourself.

There could also be insurance problems in the event of a claim if you were using unsuitable tyres.
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  #5  
Old 28 Dec 2010
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Made it into Estonia today. Drove past all the Green Card offices on the Russian side only to find they wont sell Green card cover for EU registered vehicles on the Estonian side! I am staying with a friend here in Narva, will head into town tomorrow and ask some insurance companies. He reckons it'll work, but I'm not so sure.

Failing that, I'll hop back into Russia (on foot to avoid the queues) and try there.

Failing that, I've just requested a quote from the company you recommended (thanks for that).. but every other UK insurer I've tried refuses my car for one daft reason or another. I really, really, really hate coming back to Europe, and this just rubs salt in the wound.

Regards winter tyres, fine iа you have a standard front-wheel drive saloon with 14" wheels or whatever... but high-profile 16" off road tyres are far, far more expensive. I'd probably pay the same for one that you paid for the whole fited set. I saw some standard profile 16" winter tyres of questionable quality at Karusel in Gorkiy for 4,500 rub a piece, God knows how much 80 profile tyres would cost. Plus, I'm not living in such a climate, I'll use them only once, and have no place to stash my regular tyres in the mean time. And driving in the central asian summer next year with winter tyres would also be damn dangerous as they tend to blow up in high temperatures.

I've slowed down to a max speed of 50km/h, and use 4WD all the time, no problems at all since. I was not laughing at my near-misses, it was a sharp learning-curve for winter driving. I was laughing at the way the UK has ground to a halt with -3 when russia is functioning at -30 (бн tyres notwithstanding).

Thanks again for the info, safe driving

Daniel
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  #6  
Old 29 Dec 2010
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The Tourist Office in Narva once provided me with a printed list of nearby agencies offering Russian road insurance. Maybe they could help with similar EU insurance providers.

Out of personal interest and relevant to other threads, what have you been doing with DVLA to keep them happy and the UK Registration valid for so long, to comply for Geneva Treaties for international Customs purposes for visiting tourist vehicles?
Please PM me if you dont want to go public because "Screens have Eyes" - the modern version of "Walls have Ears"!
Thanks

Tony
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