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Moscow: Work Permits and Social Security

Are you considering working in Moscow as an expat? In recent years, numerous professionals have come to Russia’s capital to work as diplomatic staff, business developers or language teachers. In this guide, you’ll find information on the job search process and business life.
Before coming to Moscow, expatriates need to arrange for a work permit first.

Priorities: Work Permits

Getting the necessary work permit for Russia is a complex and time-consuming procedure. The country has a quota regulation for foreign workers. Companies wishing to employ foreign staff have to submit an application specifying the number and nationality of employees they wish to hire a year in advance.

If a potential employer’s request to hire foreign employees is granted, job vacancies have to be registered with the authorities. If no local candidate has been found within a month, the company receives a corporate permit. Now, the application for an individual work permit can be filed. This requires translated evidence of qualifications and a health certificate. In a best-case scenario, this process takes three months.

An exception to this lengthy process, however, is in the highly qualified specialist category, which is not subject to quotas or corporate permit requirements. Highly qualified specialists are foreign professionals in a particular sector, and eligibility for this category depends on their wage. If working in the educational or scientific fields, you need to earn more than 1 million RUB (approx. 17,600 USD as of 2017) per year, and this rises to 2 million RUB (35,300 USD) if working in any other sector. However, if you are planning on working in one of Russia’s Special Economic Zones (SEZs), you only need to be earning 700,000 RUB (12,300 USD) per year. Visas for highly qualified specialists are issued for up to three years at a time, with an option to extend it for a further three years. The visa simply requires an application to the state application body, and the authorities must consider it within 14 days.

It’s a Different Story for CIS Nationals

Unlike other nationals, workers from Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries do not need to go through such a lengthy and complex process. They need to apply for a work patent within 30 days of their arrival in Russia, and have 30 days in which to confirm their knowledge of the Russian language, history, and legislation in an exam. Only once the exam has been passed can they receive the work patent.

  After receiving the patent, they have 60 days to find local employment. They can then work for up to twelve months, and the patent is renewable once.

Everything You Need to Know about Taxation

All expats working in Moscow are liable to pay Russian income tax. Non-residents are taxed only on their income from Russian sources. In this case, the tax rate for all types of income is 30%.

If you live in Russia for at least 183 days during a 12-month period, you are considered a resident under Russian taxation law. Tax residents are taxed on all their income, including income from non-Russian sources. Since the tax reform of 2001, there is a flat income tax rate of 13% for most types of incomes.

One exception is the abovementioned highly qualified specialist immigration category. Expats who have entered the country on this visa are eligible for the standard personal income tax rate of 13%, even before officially becoming a Russian tax resident. Additionally, Russia has signed double taxation treaties with a number of countries.

The Social Security System in Moscow

Everyone employed in Russia must be insured through the social security system — however, it is up to your employer to pay the contributions, so you do not have to worry about this responsibility. Social security in Russia is fairly comprehensive, covering unemployment, unexpected sickness, and an old-age pension, among other things. However,  we would recommend getting additional private health insurance on top of this, as the country’s state medical facilities leave a lot to be desired.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.

Jürgen Hofmeister

"When I came to Moscow I barely knew anyone, but now I've got dozens of expat contacts from dozens of countries. "

Caroline Hayes

"At the first InterNations Moscow event that I attended I was absolutely delighted by the elegant atmosphere and the high-quality expat crowd. "

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