Driving in Armenia
A step-by-step guide of how it worked for me

In late 2019 me and my wife moved from Germany to Armenia. Since my one-year voluntary service 2014/15 in Armenia – I met her during that time – I have always had the dream to one day move back, to live and to work here. Back then I fell in love with this country. It felt and still feels kind of like my second home. However, to make it short, the coronavirus conquered Armenia and pretty much screwed most of our plans for 2020 – just as it probably screwed yours. 

One of the things we were most looking forward to do was travelling within Armenia and exploring more of its beautiful nature. Since we try our best to avoid public transportation as much as possible in order not to risk our health, we understood there was no other way than getting an own car. It was a calm and chilly early summer evening when we were walking down the street, having forgotten about the plan to buy a car for quite a while now, when we saw it. It stood right next to us at the side of the road, graceful and elegant in all its appearance, the eye-like headlights pointed directly at us. I didn't have to think for a second, the message was crystal clear. It had to be this sky-blue and new-looking 2106 VAZ.

A few days later the time had come. After a friend had inspected the car and confirmed its almost perfect condition, the purchase was completed. So far so good. What we didn’t know at that moment were the problems we had to face when registering the car. After having been told this I was quite disappointed. However, I finally found a way to avoid exchanging my German license for the Armenian one. Here is a step-by-step guide of how it worked for me:

  1. When approaching the VRD in Erebuni, I noticed several queues of people for different purposes. Since I already possess a foreign driving license (your country must have signed the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic dated 1968; to find out whether it did, follow this link), I was told to walk straight towards the grey big entrance gate and sign up on the list to the left of the gate. The department starts working at 9:00 am, so make sure you arrive there an hour earlier to be one of the first ones on the list. You will have to provide an official translation of your passport at a later stage of the process, so make sure you already have one with you. If you don’t, there is a translation service on the right to the grey main entrance gate – the translation costs 4.000 AMD and is done within 30 minutes. As it turned out that the officer apparently had its own list and ignored the list where I put my name on, I explained my concern to the officer and asked whether they would let me enter. It worked.

  2. I didn’t know whom to approach in the department building, so I turned to the right just after entering the main entrance and headed into a short aisle. By accident I ran straight into the deputy of the department who was very cooperative and willing to help. He told me that it is possible to register the car as well as the number plates on my name without possessing an Armenian driving license, giving up or trading in my German license for an Armenian one.

  3. The deputy advised me to go to the residents’ registry of my district (for Arabkir that’s in Kasyan str.) to get something like a transcript from the residents’ registry which proves that I am officially registered and living in Yerevan. In order to be issued this document I had to ask my landlord to call the person working in that municipal registry and to confirm that I am living for rent in his apartment (I don’t know why my address on my residence card was not proof enough).

  4. After I received the transcript, I went back to the VRD in Erebuni where the police officers have kept their word and I entered the gate without waiting again. Inside the VRD building I turned left to the big room with some 15-20 counters where I explained my concern. I had to show all the relevant documents: passport, translation of passport, German driving license, transcript from municipal registry, residence card, social security number and the registration document of the previous car owner – yes, he/she needs to be there as well to sign. This is very important! After paying the AMD 23.000, I finally received my number plates.

  5. With the number plates in my hand I left to the yard and entered a few meters further on the door to the left, where I showed my number plates and received the technical passport for my car (car registration card). 

  6. Now, in order to legally drive my car, I then had to go to the municipality of the district I live in (for Arabkir that’s in Nairi Zaryan str.) where I was issued a bill for the vehicle tax payment. With this paper I had to go to a bank branch nearby to pay the vehicle tax.

  7. Last but not least you have to go the vehicle inspection service of your district (for Arabkir that’s in Nairi Zaryan, in close proximity to the municipality).

Note: I still do not possess an Armenian driving license, but the car and the number plates are registered on my name. Now, instead of actually receiving points when violating road traffic regulations, they will count my points in a separate file and in case I collect 9 or more points, they will instead initiate legal proceedings against me.

Also do not forget to get a third-party motor vehicle insurance. This can be easily done at the VRD in Erebuni, many insurers have offices there. The third-party motor vehicle insurance is obligatory.

I really hope that this guide will help you in your plan to own and drive a car in Armenia. Good luck!

 
Eric Böttcher
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