View Full Version : Moving to Russia and paying import duties

25-02-2018, 14:48
Maybe not everyone will be in the same situation as us, but this has been our experience of moving our furniture and other stuff from Belgium to Russia, and in particular paying the import duties.
Our situation is that my wife is Russian and also registered in Russia -- in our house. I am Belgian and was not registered in Russia at the time.

Our original idea was to declare that all the goods belonged to my wife (at least she can speak the language so could argue with anybody in case of problems) and the moving company agreed. So all forms were filled out in her name. We were then advised that we should pay the import duties in advance -- the moving company would not do this for us as the goods went through customs. That gave rise to an interesting dilemma, since the duties are calculated by weight, and that includes all the packing materials (including the two bog wooden shipping crates that everything ended up in) and we had no idea how much that would weigh. The other issue was trying to weigh furniture when you only have a set of scales that go up to 120 kilos!

The moving company advised us to make as best a guess as possible, so we did and made the payment. This is where we had the first problem. We have a bank account in Russia with Sberbank. I say we, but since Sberbank does not allow joint accounts, the account is in my name. Now, although in the payment instruction there is are fields to identify the name, address and passport number of the ordering customer (i.e. my wife) these apparently are not read (or perhaps not even received) by the customs service accounting department. All they could see was a payment by order of me.

This meant that we had to change the name of the shipper of the goods to me. It also meant that we had to wait until I had actually arrived in Russia before the goods were sent from Belgium. I had to provide copies of my passport complete with entry stamp as well as a copy of my registration paper, and all had to be notarised of course. So we lost quite a bit of time in this.

We also had to make a second payment to cover the weight of the shipment including the packing materials and crates. And then had to make a third payment (!) because the exchange rate that we used to make the payment was different to the Central Bank rate used by customs. It seems a bit crazy to have to make the payment in advance AND guess what the exchange rate will be on the day that the goods arrive in customs, but I guess that's part of the charm of living here.

Apart from these little annoyances, everything went fine in the end. It took about four days for the truck to get from Belgium to Moscow and through customs. Since we did not have a full container, our stuff was then offloaded and put into a smaller truck that then came from Moscow to Dinskaya. Interestingly, when we asked the driver how long he had taken (it's about 1400 kilometres) he said about 17 hours. On his own, without any long breaks. I'm glad we thought to insure everything :-)