1. Introduction
    1. Political and administrative structure
    2. Legal environment
  2. Common forms of business structures for foreign investors
    1. Main types of structure
    2. Registration, liquidation and reorganisation of business structures
    3. Shareholders’ and participants’ agreements
    4. Strategic industries
  3. Anti-monopoly issues
    1. General legal and regulatory framework
    2. Scope of application of the Competition Law
    3. Anti-competitive practices and restriction of competition
    4. Liability
  4. Tax system
    1. General approach
    2. Corporate taxation
    3. Incentives
    4. Special tax regimes
    5. Taxation of individuals
    6. Double taxation treaties
  5. Customs regulations
    1. General approach
    2. Trade between EEU and non-EEU countries
    3. Mutual trade between the EEU members
  6. Currency control
    1. Foreign currency transactions
    2. Consequences of breach/Penalties
  7. Lending in Russia
    1. Lending documents and governing law
    2. Jurisdiction
    3. International finance transactions and repatriation requirements
    4. Security interests
    5. Recognition of security trusts
    6. Syndicated loans
    7. Enforcement
    8. Suretyships and guarantees
    9. Bankruptcy considerations
    10. Other lending related issues
  8. Employment and migration
    1. Formalising the employment relationship
    2. Managing employment relationships
    3. Terminating an employment agreement
    4. Specifics of employing foreign nationals
  9. Personal data protection
    1. General approach
    2. Scope of the Data Protection Law
    3. Liability
    4. Right to be forgotten
  10. Intellectual property
    1. General approach
    2. Contractual aspects of intellectual property rights
    3. Rights over the results of intellectual activity
    4. Company names, trade names, trademarks and appellations of origin
    5. Intellectual property rights infringements
    6. IP Court
  11. Advertising issues
    1. General approach
    2. Scope of application of the Advertising Law
    3. Violations of the Advertising Law
    4. Liability
  12. Anti-corruption and compliance
    1. General approach
    2. Legal framework
    3. Compliance requirements for companies
    4. Concept of corruption in Russian law
    5. Possible targets of bribery
    6. Liability and penalties for corruption
    7. Example of sector-specific anti-corruption measures
  13. Real estate and construction
    1. Rights to real estate
    2. Real estate transactions
    3. Resolution of real estate disputes
    4. Planning and construction issues
  14. Corporate bankruptcy
    1. Insolvency criteria
    2. Stages of bankruptcy proceedings
  15. Import substitution and production localisation in Russia
    1. Measures affecting goods importation and current import substitution legislation
    2. Localisation incentives
    3. Sector-specific impact of import restrictions and localisation requirements
  16. Banking sector
    1. Legislative and regulatory framework
    2. Licensing and operations
    3. Deposit insurance
    4. The anti-money laundering law
    5. Bank secrecy
    6. FATCA and CRS
  17. Environment, energy efficiency and renewables
    1. Environment
    2. Energy efficiency
    3. Renewables
  18. Infrastructure and public private partnerships
    1. General approach
    2. Key PPP legislation
    3. Russian PPP environment
    4. Financing
    5. Legal issues
    6. Prospects for infrastructure projects
  19. Oil & gas
    1. Legislative framework
    2. Ownership and licensing
    3. Restrictions on foreign investors
    4. Licences
    5. PSAs

General approach

Russia is a member of the Eurasian Economic Union (the “EEU”) of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia, and the World Trade Organisation (the “WTO”).

Customs are regulated by the new Customs Code of the EEU (the “EEU Customs Code”) that came into force on 1 January 2018, together with Federal Law No. 289 dated 28 November 2018 “On Customs Regulation in the Russian Federation”. This law is aimed at perfecting the manner in which the authorities handle customs matters, simplifying customs procedures and clarifying the rights of importers and exporters.

The first stage of the creation of the EEU was the establishment of the Customs Union which resulted in the creation of a single customs territory between the founding states (Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia). Following that achievement, the member states continued their phased economic integration by forming the Single Economic Space, which was technically established on 1 January 2012. The integration process was completed by the signing of the Treaty on Establishment of the EEU, which came into force on 1 January 2015 and the EEU superseded the Eurasian Economic Community (the previous integration stage). Ultimately, the EEU will result in the creation of a common market allowing the free circulation of goods, services, capital and labour between its member states. Another aim of the EEU is the adoption of unified policies with respect to competition and natural monopolies. The scope of matters regulated at the EEU level is expanding and includes key aspects, such as a unified competition law, the free movement of capital and labour, a macroeconomic policy.

The customs borders of the EEU also gradually expanded. Armenia joined the EEU at the end of 2014, while Kyrgyzstan joined the EEU in 2015. Currently, Syria and Tunisia are in the list of potential member states.

The EEU actively engaged in negotiations on the creation of a free commerce regime with China, India and Turkey. In 2018, a temporary agreement on the creation of a free commerce custom zone between the EEU and Iran was ratified.

Customs regulation in the EEU

Key features
  • Communications with the customs authorities are gradually moving to online and electronic formats.
  • Customs control has been moved from the borders between the member states of the EEU to the outside borders of the EEU. As a result, customs, veterinary, sanitary and border control are all performed at the outside borders of the EEU.
  • Joint inspections by the customs authorities of the EEU member states (such as transport, vehicular control on the outside border of the EEU and sampling of goods for obligatory veterinary control) are made on a “single window – one stop” clearance basis to accelerate border crossings.
  • No obligatory customs-clearance procedures exist between the member states.
  • Customs duties and other economic restrictions do not apply to trade between the EEU members, with the exception of special protective, anti-dumping and compensatory measures.
  • Each member of the EEU is obliged to use a unified nomenclature of goods and non-tariff regulatory measures for trade with non-member states.
  • Import duties are payable to a special accumulation account and are allocated between the members of the EEU according to the following proportion: Armenia – 1.22%; Belarus – 4.56%; Kazakhstan – 7.06%; Kyrgyzstan – 1.9%; and Russia – 85.27%.
  • Customs duty rates with respect to export to non-EEU countries are indicated in the laws of the respective exporting state. Export duties are paid to the budget of the country of production and are not allocated between the EEU members.
  • 0% value-added tax (“VAT”) is charged on goods exported within the EEU territory. Goods imported within the EEU territory are exempted from excise duties and indirect taxation.
  • Customs authorities may challenge the declared customs value for customs clearance for a period of up to three years following the goods’ release. For certain types of goods, this term may be extended up to five years by internal legislation.
  • There is a unified register for items of intellectual property registered in the territory of the EEU.
  • Authorised economic operators (“AEOs”) are in operation and provide simplified customs clearance procedures. They are permitted to store goods at their own warehouses and release them into free circulation before submitting a customs declaration. To carry on such an activity, a legal entity must obtain a special status of AEO under the national legislation of each member state of the EEU.
  • Statistical databases for streamlining the control and analytical functions of the customs authorities, as well as enabling the exchange of information between the EEU member states are in place.
Recent developments of the EEU’s customs regulation

The EEU Customs Code, which came into force on 1 January 2018, was developed in close cooperation with business representatives. It encompasses a large number of changes in the customs legislation that should significantly improve the business climate in the territory of the EEU member states.

The main changes introduced by the new EEU Customs Code are as follows:

  • Customs declarations must be provided in electronic form, and they no longer need to be accompanied by supporting documentation. Declarations in paper form are carried out in exceptional cases. In Russia, the registration procedure for declarations of goods submitted electronically is regulated by Order No. 150 of the Ministry of Finance dated 20 September 2019.
  • Automatic release of goods is now possible using systems that contain all pertinent information relating to the goods.
  • The period for the release of goods under the new EEU Customs Code has been reduced to a maximum of four hours. Formerly, the period of release of goods under the Customs Code of the Customs Union was one working day.
  • The level of red tape has been significantly reduced. Notably, the customs authorities are not entitled to request documents that have already been provided.
  • Alternative methods for determining the cost of goods if the ”actual cost” is not readily determinable are used.
  • AEOs have been introduced for companies carrying out import/export activities that enjoy a high level of trust from the customs authorities.

In addition to the EEU Customs Code, 25 decisions of the Eurasian Economic Commission1 that regulate other issues of customs regulation came into force on 1 January 2019.

Due to the “de-offshorisation” trend, special simplified procedures for AEOs importing goods from, or paying for imported goods through, territories listed as offshore territories by the Ministry of Finance were revoked.

The customs internal risk management system was extended to cover operations with residents of offshore territories and operations potentially related to the non-repatriation of currency by Russian residents.

EEU member states are working on the unification of their currency control and anti-monopoly legislation and are aiming to adopt principles which unify the currency control policy within the EEU.

EEU member states are working on improving customs valuation methods. The requirement to prove the absence of interdependence between the declarant and its supplier when determining the customs value of goods has been replaced by the right to do so. 

Significant changes have also been introduced to the law “On Customs Regulation in the Russian Federation”:

  • The customs authorities are obliged to make a “preliminary decision” on the customs value, if so requested. A preliminary decision can be requested by a customs declarant or its representative.
  • Since 1 January 2018, customs payments can be made by a third party on behalf of a customs declarant.
  • The timeframes for carrying out customs audits and expert reviews, as well as for appeals in relation to the correction of declarations, have been set.
  • It is now possible to defer customs payments by up to one month.
  • The amount to be paid by export customs representatives as a security for the settlement of customs payments has been reduced.

On 26 November 2019, the Plenum of the Russian Supreme Court issued Resolution No. 49 aimed at aligning and streamlining the application of EEU customs legislation. The Supreme Court recommends that the courts and customs authorities adopt a unified approach when determining the value and classification of goods. In particular:

  • It should be presumed that any information that a customs declarant provides to the customs authorities as part of customs control is reliable.
  • If the prices of imported goods significantly differ from prices attributed to the same or similar goods in the special database of the customs authorities, this may indicate that the declarant has improperly determined the customs value.
  • If the declarant fails to confirm the goods’ customs value, this can trigger customs control. However, this should not in itself evidence that the declarant incorrectly determined the customs value.
  • The decisions adopted by the Eurasian Economic Commission on the classification of goods cannot be applied retroactively if this will result in an additional customs charge.

On 29 May 2019, EEU members entered into an “Agreement on a Traceability Mechanism of Goods Imported into the EEU”. Russia ratified this agreement, but national legislation needs to be amended accordingly. These amendments are expected to be finalised in 2020.

The traceability system will apply to individual entrepreneurs and companies that conduct operations with goods subject to traceability.It will allow access to information on a product throughout its life cycle.

The list of goods subject to this system in Russia was approved by Russian Government Decree No. 807 dated 25 June 2019. This list includes, amongst others, certain household and electronic appliances, as well as industrial trucks. 

The implementation of this system is expected to improve control over operations related to the circulation of goods and exclude the possibility for customs and tax evasion within the EEU.


After many years of negotiations, Russia finally signed the Protocol on Accession to the WTO on 16 December 2011. Accession took place in the summer of 2012 and is expected, given time, to result in significant changes to the Russian trade market, in particular due to:

  • the decrease of the average weighted customs tariff rate for the import of goods to the Russian territory from 10% to 7.8% (for industrial goods from 9.4% to 6.4%, for agricultural products from 13.2% to 10.8%); and
  • the lifting of certain restrictions on foreign ownership in specific sectors such as telecoms, insurance and banking.

Various transitional periods were established with respect to certain goods, industries and services.

The longest transitional period has been set for insurance and banking services. Foreign companies will be allowed to establish Russian branches in 2021. The maximum foreign participation in Russian banks is 50%.

Furthermore, the accession to the WTO Government Procurement Agreements, which was originally envisaged, did not materialise. Thus, Russia has reserved a right to limit access to public procurement to foreign goods and services.

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[1] A supranational body comprising of representatives of the EEU member states. Back ↑

Key contacts

Hayk Safaryan
Hayk Safaryan
Head of Customs
T +7 495 786 30 59