Getting a Car in Kazakhstan
A dear friend of mine recently bought a car here and I do occasionally get emails about driving in Kazakhstan for foreigners, so here is a basic rundown of what you need to do to register a new car. Buying a car wasn’t that much different from buying a car in the States. However one big shock I had was that no one let us test drive the car before buying it. I assume they were afraid we’d steal it but it was a bit inconvenient since the only cars I’d driven before coming to KZ were American models and I didn’t want to buy an American car here-I wasn’t sure I could find a good mechanic who knew US-built car. So we had to rely on recommendations of friends and family (see earlier post and comment about communal living in KZ).
- License: We got conflicting stories about licensing. On the one hand we were told I could drive on my US license if I had a notarized translation. On the other hand, I was told I needed an international license. I ended up doing both. The international license is easy to get in your home country, and when police threaten to take your license away, it’s not a big deal to get another one. The bit about organ donations on US licenses did confuse the translator here so she ended up not translating that bit.
- Tech Control: All cars, even new ones, do have to go through technical inspections. For a new car, it’s not too bad, just a rubber stamp. But you still have to go to the Tech Control site and wait in an extremely long line. And we had to try several times as they seem to close at random or suddenly declare they aren’t taking more customers that day.
- Insurance: The cheapest auto insurance is the state minimum, 10000 tenge a year. Doesn’t matter how old you are or what kind of car you drive. No idea if there is other insurance available. The few crashes I, or my friends, have been involved in were settled informally with an exchange of cash or in one case, I followed the other driver (clearly at fault) to a mechanic, where he just paid the mechanic directly.
- Dovernost: No idea how to translate that into English but apparently every driver of the car, besides the owner, needs a notarized document from the owner saying that the owner allows this person to drive the car. And of course you have to set a time limit, so eventually you have to do it again. Without that, I’m told, police will assume the car was stolen and then you are in big trouble.
- Medical Exam: Drivers have to go through a very thorough medical exam, including a psychologist, a drug test, and a dermatologist (no idea why!). While the exam itself wasn’t a problem as I am in perfect health of course, the going around to different clinics, waiting for doctors and keeping people from cutting in line was the usual pain that going to public clinics always is.
Other than the tedious registration process, there aren’t too many problems driving here as a foreigner. Although it shocks some locals, I have almost never been pulled over by the police for no reason. Sometimes the reasons seem a bit silly (driving a dirty car is apparently technically against the law), but except for one morning when a persistent officer insisted I must be drunk for no particular reason, every time I’ve been pulled over I did in fact violate the rules. And usually admitting my guilt and explaining why I did it has gotten me out of any fine.
Any other suggestions for drivers in KZ?