Customs rules in Russia for individuals

Customs rules which are applied in Russia to individuals were recently changed due to the establishment of the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan (hereinafter – the Customs Union). The rules are stipulated in the Treaty “On the procedure of transportation of goods by individuals for personal needs through the customs border of the Customs Union…" as of 18 June 2010 (hereinafter – the Treaty).

Importation of personal belongings from the outside the Customs Union (e.g. from Europe) to Russia

As concerns the importation of personal belongings by individuals who cross the border by airplane, the current duty free allowance (limit) is €10,000 but not more than 50 kg (for those who cross the border by other means of transport this limit is €1,500 but not more than 50 kg).

Previously, (i.e. before 2011) such allowance was equal to 65,000 RUB (i.e. approximately €1,550) but not more than 35 kg (irrespective of means of transport).

The current duty free limit for the importation of goods to individuals who do not cross the border (i.e. importation by post service or carriers such as DHL, UPS etc.) is €1,000 but not more than 31 kg. Previously, such limit was

  • – For carriers: 5,000 RUB (i.e. approximately €120)
  • – For post service: 10,000 RUB (i.e. approximately €240).

As it was previously, all goods (including souvenirs and gifts) exceeding the above limits are subject to declaring and a customs payment at the rate 30% but not less than €4 per 1 kg. The above rate is applied to the value (weight) of the excess, not to the whole value (weight) of goods.

The limits of alcoholic beverages and tobacco products being transported by individuals have been also changed.

Importation (exportation) of currency by individuals from (to) the outside the Customs Union

Currently it is allowed to import and export currency in cash (either in Russian Rubles or in foreign currency) without any limitations. Meanwhile, in case of importation or exportation of the cash currency or traveler’s checks exceeding the equivalent of $10,000 (according to the rates established by Central Bank of Russia), this currency must be declared to customs.

The currency which is imported or exported by individuals in other documentary forms (e.g. bonds, security etc.) should be declared to customs irrespective of the nominal value.

Previously, cash amounts between the equivalent of $3,000 and $10,000 should have been declared on exportation. Moreover, it was not allowed to export currency exceeding the equivalent of $10,000 (unless an individual provides a document confirming that the cash was imported or transferred into Russia before).

Transportation of personal belongings and currency between the member-states of the Customs Union (e.g. between Russia and Belarus)

According to general rule, personal belongings and currency transported by individual between the Customs Union member-states are not subject to declaring and customs payments since 1 July 2010. The only exception is cars which have been previously imported into Belarus (or Kazakhstan) from non-member countries (i.e. European countries) and have been cleared by customs using Belorussian (or Kazakh) duty rates (i.e. low duty rates). In case of importation of such cars into Russia from Belarus or Kazakhstan they must be declared and individuals should pay the difference between Belorussian (or Kazakh) duty rates and Russian (i.e. high) duty rates.

Temporary importation of personal belongings by foreign individuals

Starting from 1 July 2010 foreign individuals (i.e. individuals who do not have permanent residence in any Customs Union member-state) coming to Russia or other Customs Union member-states are entitled to temporarily import used goods which are indicated in a list attached to the Treaty without customs payments. Such articles as clothes, furniture, books, household equipment and other significant articles intended for personal use were not included in the list. Therefore, when such goods are temporarily imported by a foreign individual and if the total value of such goods exceeds €10,000 (or total weight exceeds 50 kg), the individual should pay customs payment in the amount of 30% of the value of excess, (or €4 per 1 kg of the excess weight). The above limitations and rates are applied irrespective of the way of transportation of goods (e.g. in a luggage, by shipping companies, etc).

Before 1 July 2010, in line with the customs legislation of Russia, there was not such a list of used goods, and thus almost all goods which were temporarily imported by foreign individuals were fully exempted from customs payments.

It should be noted that the Customs Union Commission has elaborated certain changes to the Treaty. According to the changes foreign individuals who temporarily come into Customs Union member-states (i.e. Russia) for working purposes are able to import the above goods without customs payments.