24 January 2014
EPAM Legal Highlights: Recent developments in customs regulation of express carriage in Russia


1. On October 12, 2013, an Order of the Federal Customs Service of the Russian Federation (FSC) dd. July 07, 2013 N1225 regulating and facilitating the processing of customs operations in respect of express cargo transported by international courier services through the customs border of the Customs Union came into force.

2. By Order N1861 of the FSC dd. October 1, 2013, new procedures for processing express cargos “for personal use” were initiated on a trial basis.  These procedures have not been implemented in all of the RF customs bodies.


1. The order of the FCS establishes rules for conducting customs operations with respect to express cargo (divided into 4 categories) on a priority basis and deals with the specifics of customs operations in transporting express cargo through the customs border of the Customs Union by one or more commercial organizations forming a single air and road network using an electronic monitoring system for purposes of express mail delivery, as well as by their agents or contractors.

Customs officials may use data contained in the electronic monitoring system for organizing and tracking the movements of an express carrier and may use documents and information written in foreign languages for customs purposes. Individual consignment notes, cargo manifests, invoices and other documents used in the carriage of express cargo may be accepted as shipping and commercial documents.

A Customs officer may halt the release of express goods if their movement across the customs border entails a breach of intellectual property rights.


2. The principal provisions of Order N1861 include:

  • Creation of a unified automated customs information system to reduce the number of documents to be presented to the customs in hard copy; and
  • Effecting actual control over the frequency with which individuals import goods for personal use without paying customs duties (goods valued up to 1,000 Euros and weighing up to 31 kg) that are delivered by international courier services. 


In actuality, acceleration of customs operations and positive changes in customs administrations have not occurred in practice yet. In practice express carriers require customers to provide additional documents for customs purposes.

On the one hand, international courier services have been given the right to conduct customs clearance of express cargos by delivering documents and information to the customs in electronic format in the form of a register, instead of clearing each parcel separately. On the other hand, to create a unified automated customs information system the customs bodies currently request too many documents. 

Remark: These innovations are not relevant to customs clearance of “international postal items” conducted by postal service operators (e.g., FGUP “Russian Post”).


Because the purpose of implementing the new procedures on a trial basis is to test their workability, at this stage it is necessary to focus the FCS’ attention on the difficulties that arise in implementing them.