Following our report on the new Russian customs codes that were negatively impacting expats moving to Russia, we can now reveal that the Russian government intends to scrap the customs duty as a result of fears that the hefty import fees for personal belongings could negatively impact investment into the country.
The customs changes, which were introduced in July, stipulated that foreigners were to be charged 4 Euros per kilogram of luggage that exceed the 50kg exclusion. Although some objects were exempt from the charges, the reality to led to many foreigners being unable to afford the importation fees and finding that their property was stranded in customs.
Speaking to rt.com, one expat described how, since finding the importation fees of 20,000 Euro to be in excess of his budget, he has been forced to live in an empty flat where he sleeps on the floor and uses a suitcase as a table: “It’s like we are refugees, not professional immigrants,” he told the online news source.
Ironically the new customs laws were introduced in Russia on the 1st July 2010, the very same day that relaxed migration laws were introduced in order to encourage more foreign professionals in Russia.
However, according to Russian newspaper The Moscow Times, the customs laws will soon be retracted after agreement with Belarus and Kazakhstan, the other countries in the customs union, was reached at a commission held on August 17th.
In a letter issued from the Economic Development Ministry to the Russo-German Chamber of Commerce, the ministry indicated that an agreement had been reached whereby an additional item, entitled “other goods clearly for private use”, would be added to the list of goods that were exempt from the fee structure.
However, although the news is promising, concerns remain among professional moving companies in Russia, some of whom argue that the ambiguity of the exemption clause may cause further issues downstream. Speaking to The Moscow Times, Dmitry Degtyaryov, director of moving company Team Allied Russia, simply said: “Definitely, there will be problems.”
It has yet to be confirmed if expats who have already paid importation fees will be entitled to a refund.
If you’re considering living in Russia then please take a look at our free overview of life in Russia as an expat.