Electronic customs clearance
Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Ukraine
In the last decade, the Russian Federation, and afterwards other member states of the Customs Union, have tried to develop a much faster, more transparent, and less bureaucratic procedure for customs clearance as an alternative to the common paper format.
The new era began in 2002 with the law “On the electronic digital signature”, and the first electronically submitted customs declaration occured in November 2002 at the “Kashirskiy” 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 as a scanned copy. For customs clearance using this document, the so-called ED1 Form, the presence of the declarant at the customs office was compulsory.
In 2008, the electronic form of declaration was further improved when the Federal Customs Service of the Russian Federation developed a means for declaring goods through the internet. The so-called ED2 Form utilizes special electronic XML forms for the main documents, such as bill of lading, invoice, packing list, and also contracts their attachments.
The main advantage is that declarations done via the internet no longer require the declarant to be present at the customs office. This is made possible by using an electronic signature which the declarant company applies for at a licensed centre for the electronic declaration of goods. The electronic signature is simply a flashcard that authorizes the sending of a customs declaration 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. After sending the declaration of the goods, a back and forth communication begins between the declarant and the customs inspector, which tracks the current status of the process for both parties. This dialogue acts as a receipt for the declaration, with the name of the inspector in charge, possible mistakes made, documents requested, and the eventual release of goods all recorded.
According to the Federal law № 311 dated November 27, 2010 “On customs regulation in the Russian Federation”, as of January 1st, 2014, the electronic declaration of goods became compulsory. Customs declarations in paper form may be used only in special cases defined by the Government of the Russian Federation. The next stage is the process of remote electronic declaration, which involves 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 at which the goods were located. According to the remote release of goods, a declarant in Moscow may interact with the central customs office in Moscow while the goods themselves may be located at a customs office at the border.
This form of electronic customs clearance has also been established in Belarus and Kazakhstan, but has not yet been fully implemented. In both countries the declarant, or an official representative of the declarant, must still be present at the customs office. In Ukraine the electronic declaration was first submitted in 2003. At the moment more than 50% of the total volume of declarations are applied for via the electronic declaration system, and starting from January 2017, electronic declaration will be obligatory.