Monday 19th July 2010

New Russian customs codes mean hefty customs charges for expatriates

A new customs code came into effect on Monday 12th July and already expatriates in the region are facing major difficulties as a result of the new fee structure imposed by the agreement.

The recently forged Customs Union between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan came into full operation effect last Monday and the associated customs fees are leaving expatriates high and dry with potential customs charges of tens of thousands of dollars. According to reports in the Moscow Times, expatriate shipments are currently being held up in customs as a result of the new fee structure, which charges shipments in excess of 50kg at $5 USD per kilogram.

Expat moving companies are experiencing major difficulties bringing expatriate shipments into the country and currently experiencing significant delays as they attempt to raise the money to pay customs fees. Talking to the Moscow Times, one haulage company operator, Harry Kerbs, disclosed that he had three trucks currently stuck in customs, one of which faced customs charges of $15,000 USD: “I do not know how to raise the money because my client said he will reimburse me only later and through a bank account” he said.

Kerb’s situation is worsened by the fact that each truck waiting at the customs point is subject to a daily fee of $260 USD.

It is not only shipments that are being negatively impacted by the custom rules. Many newspapers in the country have reported that parcels, letters and packages are also being held up at customs offices as a result of the new rules. According to the head of the UPS, an international postage operation, red tape engendered as a result of the agreement has caused confusion amongst customs officials and led to a delay for almost 10,000 postal packages. He said that expatriates in the country could currently expect delays between 2 weeks and 2 months for all delivery items entering the country from abroad.

Russia’s New Custom Regulations in Brief

The new customs arrangement entails that all household items are to be treated as commercial goods. The first 50kg of such goods are free of customs charges but any goods over this weight will be charged at a rate of 30 percent of the declared value, a minimum of $5 USD per kilogram. The following items are exempt from the charges:

  1. Jewelry, in quantities needed for one’s use during stay in Russia
  2. Toiletries and health and beauty aids, in quantities needed for one’s use during stay in Russia
  3. One photo and video camera and video and digital accessories
  4. One portable digital/analog VCR
  5. One portable video projector or one slide projector with accessories
  6. One portable recording/playing device (including Dictaphones), with DVD player and accessories
  7. One portable gramophone and gramophone records
  8. Compact disc and cassette players
  9. One portable radio, flash player and accessories
  10. One television set with a maximum diagonal screen of 42 cm (approximately 16.5 inches)
  11. One portable typewriter
  12. Two mobile phones
  13. One set of binoculars
  14. One PC (laptop) with accessories
  15. Portable musical instrument, in quantities needed for use during one’s stay in Russia
  16. Baby carriages, in quantities needed for use during one’s stay in the Russia
  17. Car safety seats fixed in an automobile, in quantities needed for use during one’s stay in Russia
  18. Wheelchairs, in quantities needed for use during one’s stay in Russia
  19. Equipment and accessories for sports, tourism and hunting, as well as balloons, in quantities needed for use during ones stay in Russia
  20. Portable dialysis and analogous medical equipment, including disposable medical accessories
  21. Pets, including those for hunting, sports and tourism, required for non-commercial use during one’s stay in Russia

Shipments for government officials and diplomats are excluded from the charges.

Changes have also been made to the charges applied to the importation of alcoholic beverages. A maximum of 5 liters can now be imported for personal use with 3 liters of this being duty free and the remaining 2 liters being charged at the rate of 12USD per liter.

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