In June, EMIL-SCS made its first visit to St. Petersburg, Russia with the class of 2014. One topic of focus for the visit was Russia Customs. We picked up some interesting insights. Customs authorities everywhere balance trade facilitation with regulatory control. In Russia, Customs has a very important third responsibility: revenue generation, 25% of Russian government revenues are collected by customs compared with numbers more like 1% in the US and 3% in Germany. Russian Customs is a taxing authority. So naturally Russian Customs works closely with the tax administration and requires verification of payment from the bank as well as many documents from the shipper and consignee. But there’s no shared database among these agencies to help manage the process so it’s necessary to provide the same information on several different forms. Any discrepancies, even small discrepancies can create major headaches. Back in 2007, Russian-American Business posted an article on the Customs Clearance Process for Russia that paints a pretty rosy picture. It outlines some 6 documents required from the shipper and 12 from the consignee. We heard that the importer needed to provide: • • •
An official registration of the purchase contract with an authorized bank acting as agent for currency operations Registration of the contract at the responsible customs office prior to first delivery, requiring roughly 15 legal documents Quarterly tax reports proving that import VAT and customs duties have been paid.
Everyone recommended that the importer maintain a dedicated staff to monitor and facilitate the process – you can’t just leave it to your broker, even though brokers appear to be charging roughly $1,000 per clearance. Russian-American Business also claimed that The importer can now choose the customs house, at which to perform clearance. It can be either the customs house at the border crossing or at the cargo's destination. The importer can now choose the customs house, at which to perform clearance. It can be either the customs house at the border crossing or at the cargo's destination. We heard that while it was often preferable to clear customs at the cargo’s destination, customs was working to move clearance to the border and that inland and border processes were being duplicated. What are you seeing?