Modern Import Tools in the Eurasian Customs Union

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By Bettina Wisthaler

In the last decade, the Russian Federation and afterwards the Customs Union, tried to develop the procedure of customs clearing and to promote a much faster, less bureaucratic and transparent alternative to the common paper format.

The beginning of the new era was set in 2002 with the law “On the electronic digital signature” and the first electronically submitted customs declaration in November 2002 at a customs office of the Moscow Regional Customs. At that time, the declarations needed to be submitted via the customs communication channel using special software with the attached documents sent in a scanned, informal format. For customs clearance under this so called ED1 form, the presence of the declarant at the customs office was compulsory.

In 2008, the electronic form of declaration was improved further when the Federal Customs Service of the Russian Federation developed a means to declare goods through the Internet. The so called ED2 form foresees the completing of special electronic XML forms for the main documents, such as bill of lading, invoice, packing list, but also contracts and attachments. The main advantage is that for the internet declaration, the declarant no longer needs to be present at the customs office and may submit a declaration from his desk. This is possible thanks to the electronic signature. The declarant company simply needs to apply for an electronic signature at one of the licensed centers for electronic declaration of goods. Such an electronic signature is nothing more than a certificate on a memory card (token) that authorizes the sending of customs declarations to a specific customs office.

Thanks to this development, customs clearance has not only become less time consuming (about 2-3 hours) but also much more transparent. Indeed, after sending the goods declaration between the declarant and the customs inspector, a sort of “conversation” starts which shows to both of the parties the current status of the process such as receipt of the declaration with the indication of name and surname of the inspector in charge, possible mistakes, request of documents, and eventually the release of goods.

According to the Federal law № 311 dated November 27, 2010 “Of customs regulation in the Russian Federation” from January 1, 2014 the electronic goods declaration becomes compulsory. Customs declarations on paper will be used only in special cases defined by the Government of the Russian Federation.

The next stage in this development is the remote, electronic declaration which foresees the further step of moving customs operations to areas near the border of the Russian Federation. In the past, the declarant needed to submit the declaration to the customs office where the goods were located at. According to the remote release of goods, a declarant in Moscow interacts with the central customs office in Moscow whereas the goods themselves may be located at a customs office near the border. However, for the moment, remote customs declaration is possible only for land transport and the number of customs offices providing the service is limited. Several steps have been taken to simplify import procedures. Among them, there are e-declarations and standardized certifications.

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