New Customs Rules for Personal Belongings
Regional Director – Central and Eastern Europe
Recently, there have been a number of changes to the Russian Customs Code that affect nearly everyone coming or going to and from Russia. Understanding these issues may not make a move in or out of Russia go more quickly, but it will prepare you for the bureaucracy and save you some time and headache if you’re coming to Russia or leaving.
As of July 1st, Russia joined a customs union with Kazakhstan and Belarus. The establishement of this union was unorganized and haphazard at best with poorly implemented electronic scanning systems, customs posts being reassigned to handle different materials, and the cancellation of previously existing export obligations.
Since July, this has resulted in large delays for shipments of household goods, and given that the summer months are some of the most popular times for families of ex-pats to relocate, a number of people felt an additional stress on top of what’s already a hectic process in any country.
One of the largest changes still in effect as of the writing of this article is the cancellation of temporary import obligations. These “obligations” were essentially promises from the owner of a shipment saying that upon leaving Russia, the personal effects would be exported out of the country again (rather than sold). By canceling these obligations, it was no longer to possible to import personal belongings into Russia without paying 4 Euro per kilogram duty on your own goods. To put this into perspective, a typical family ships 15-30 cubic metres of furniture and belongings with a weight of approximately 4,000-6,000 kgs.
Further complicating the process of importing your goods was that payment of the above-mentioned duties could only be performed in Russia, as payment had to come from the owner personally via a cash deposit via Russian bank, or from that individual’s Russian bank account (which again, would require presence in Russia).
Russian Customs has promised that temporary import obligations will be reinstituted as of September 20th, but it remains unclear how this will work.
Another complication of late has been from Domodedovo Airport customs which apparently now require foreigners to be present at the airport for clearing their goods. Previously, a power of attorney was signed allowing shipping companies to represent their foreign customers. What this means is that if you’re hoping for a quick departure prior to your goods leaving, you may be out of luck. Granted, there are other airports through which air shipments can leave, but costs might be increased and the airlines operating out of those airports may not offer direct flights to your new location.
So if you are planning a move soon, it would be sensible to speak with a relocations company sooner rather than later so that you’re prepared well in advance for any changes that Russia may throw out next.