On July 6, 2010 the Customs Union (hereinafter CU) between the Russian Federation, Belarus and Kazakhstan came into force. New rules and transformation of customs relation will be introduced gradually. At this stage the agreement eases trade among the three large CIS economies without fully abolishing duties and tariffs. The Customs Union's highest bodies are the Interstate Councils of the heads of states and governments of its members. Its joint permanent governing body is the Customs Union Commission.
The common custom rules of the member countries are regulated by the Customs Code of the Customs Union, international agreements of the member states and decisions of the Commission of the CU.
Import duties are now unified and based on the Nomenclature of Goods of Foreign Trade Activity of the Customs Union. This classification system uses ten-digit numbers. The duties are transferred to a common account and the distributed to the three members according to a special scheme. But the VAT which must be paid when importing goods still varies from country to country.
It has to be taken into account that many issues and related to customs (banking, taxes like for instance VAT, etc) are still regulated by national legislation.
The goals of the CU are:
-Unification of import duties and import procedures.
-Harmonization of various import licensing regimes.
-A unified certification and declaration of conformity document valid in all member states
was introduced. Spare parts do no longer have to be extra certified.
-Common requirements and list of commodities subject to sanitary, phytosanitary and
-No more customs clearance at the Russian-Belorussian-Kazakh internal borders.
-Joint system of customs transit of the goods on customs territory of the Customs Union.
-The introduction of the concept of the "Authorized economic operator", which can profit
from certain facilitations of the customs procedures.
-Reduction of the period for release of goods from three to two days starting from the time
of registration of the declaration (but the period can still be prolonged by the authorities
up to 10 days under certain circumstances).
-Mutual recognition of measures for ensuring payment of customs duties and taxes.
-Increase of the amount of money which can be exported without declaration to 10,000
-Increase of permission for physical persons to receive international parcels of goods for
personal use without paying customs duties up to 1000 Euros and 31 kg per month.
Important upcoming changes regarding the Russian customs clearance:
-Uniform CU veterinary certificates as from 2012.
-Customs clearance should be completed on the border.
-Facilitation of the reimbursement of the import VAT.
-Single Economic Space in 2012.
-Further implementation of electronic customs declaration in Russia (expected deadline:
As the process of the emergence of the CU implies many changes, it is essential now for importers to monitor the legal situation regarding the customs clearance procedure very closely.
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