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.