I thought I would do a shorter separate post on registration and how to do it yourself seeing as this might be something some people are interested in. Firstly I should say there won’t actually be that many cases where you will even need to do it yourself.
If you have a tourist visa the hotel or hostel you are staying at will take care of your registration for you.
If you have a work permit your registration will be done for you
If you have a study visa your registration will be done for you
You need to DIY register if:
You have a business visa and are not staying in a hotel or hostel (as they do it for you).
You have a friend coming to visit for a while and he won’t be in a hotel or hostel
Your landlord refuses to register you and you have no other choice
How to do it
Actually, it’s very simple, all you need is a place that you know for sure does it. Many Russians that aren’t from Moscow do it too so with the help of a Google search it isn’t hard to find a place. Additionally you can get on some expat forums and start asking there, most of the expats have it done for them but some are savvy when it comes to such matters.
The address of the place I use is:
Проспект Вернадского (станция метро Юго-Западная)
The place is round the back of a student dorm and is an absolute bitch to find if you don’t know where it is as there are no signs for it.
Maximum registration there for 3 months is a couple of thousand roubles and only takes around two days to get. If you ask them on the phone about it they will pretend they don’t know what you’re talking about so you just need to go and see them. Also, this registration will be your address in Moscow so if any militsia asks you where you live, you tell them you live there.
The thing is, this way you can only get it for three months (or at least as far as I know). So what do you do when it runs out? All you need to do is cross any boarder and come back and repeat the process (to get a new migration card, see picture below).
Most people take a train to the Ukraine, but Riga is also an option or anywhere else that takes your fancy.
If you don’t have registration
If you don’t have it and get stopped by the police, simply say you forgot it and bribe them. You can probably haggle (yes, you can haggle bribes) to about 300 roubles but it depends on the officer.
If you are late getting registration
By law you need to be registered within three days, if you miss this you simply pay a late fine and that’s it. No big deal, nothing to worry about.
A note on getting registered where you live
This is what a lot of people want, registration in the place they live, but the problem here are the landlords. They don’t want the hassle or the extra costs that come with renting to a foreigner. Also from Feb 2009 it is only possible to be registered by your landlord if you have a lease contract (not something you come across too often in Russia, believe me). This just makes it even less likely that you will get normal, official registration but that's just the way it is.