Customs formalities in respect of personal belongings' crossing the boarders of the Customs Union by expatriates are stated in the Intergovernmental Agreement [of the Customs' Union states, i.e. Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan ("CU")] of June 18, 2010 (as further amended on October 19, 2011).

The Agreement has as its Annexes the list of goods which can be imported into Russia for personal use without payment of import duties (Annex 3 - list of goods for personal use imported in the CU without payment of import duties and Annex 4 - list of goods for personal use, which are temporarily imported in the CU without payment of import duties). In respect of goods in both Annexes certain limitations apply (in respect of alcohol and tobacco, or depending on frequency of such imports and quantities of imported goods). The general principle is that personal belongings are exempt from levying customs duties if their customs value does not exceed 10000 EURO (in respect of the goods imported by avia) or 1500 EURO (in respect of the goods imported by other types of transport) and the total weight is under 50 kg. Importation of alcohol, beer and tobacco are regulated separately and quantity restrictions also apply. Cultural objects are exempt regardless of their value and quantity.

Annex 4 (list of second hand goods for personal use temporarily imported in the CU without payment of import duties) has 21 categories of goods with indication of their quantity. The list includes among other things jewelry, photo, video cameras, tape or digital recorders, DVD and audio players, TV, mobile, PCs, musical instruments, wheel chairs, etc. They are allowed to be temporary imported (i.e. the foreign citizen is obliged to re-export them after expiration of the period of his temporary staying in Russia) without payment of import [customs] duties if their quantity does not [usually] exceed one piece or the quantity sufficient for the period of stay or intended use. Please note that the temporary imported goods should not be transferred to the third party.

Other personal use belongings (i.e. not covered by Annex 4) can be imported into the CU with the payment of customs duties if their value exceeds the above mentioned limits on its customs value and weight. The unified customs duty in such instances is 30% of customs value of the excessive part of the imported goods, but not less than 4 EURO per one kg.

If the goods are delivered to the recipient by an international carrier (i.e. without transferring by the recipient the customs border of CU), the monthly "allowance" (per one recipient) is 31 kg with a total value of 1000 EURO.

Passenger cars can be imported into Russia temporarily for the period of the stay of the individual (but the period cannot exceed one year) without payment of the duties. In other instances the importation of cars for personal use entails payment of duties which are dependent on the car engines'

volume and age of the imported car.

Certain goods are prohibited (e.g. weapons, poison, human bodies or their organs) or restricted for importation (e.g. cryptographic devices, national archives).

If the personal goods are imported in unaccompanied baggage its customs clearance should consist of two stages:

Stage 1.  When the individual arrives to the Russian state border checkpoint (e.g. airport) the latter should declare to the state border customs authorities that he will import the personal goods in unaccompanied baggage by filing the passenger customs declaration in two copies with usage of a special blank stated by the Federal Customs Service and by providing the respective transportation documents confirming the transportation of the goods (e.g. contract of carriage, luggage ticket, check, waybill, Bill of Lading, etc.).  The respective passenger customs declaration blanks may be provided to any interested person by the customs authorities in the state border checkpoint.  One hard copy of this passenger customs declaration stamped by the state border customs authority should be returned to the individual. It is recommended indicating in the passenger customs declaration what goods which are to be declared to the customs authorities are imported by the individual in accompanied baggage. Otherwise, it will be considered by the customs authorities that the limits on customs value an weight of the goods which may be imported without payment of the duties are used by the individuals in full and he (she) will be obliged to pay duties in respect of the unaccompanied baggage.

Stage 2. The customs clearance of the personal goods imported in unaccompanied baggage should be performed by the individual in the customs authority in the Russian state border checkpoint or in the local customs authority where this individual is temporary registered for the migration control purposes.  The individual (or his/her representative acting based on the respective Power of Attorney) should submit to the customs authority the application prepared on a special blank stated by the Federal Customs Service where, in particular name, description, weight and value of each personal goods should be indicated.  This application should be supported, in particular, by the hard copy of the passenger customs declaration stamped by the state border customs authority where it is indicated that the goods are temporary imported in unaccompanied baggage. 

Please note that in the course of customs clearance of the imported goods the veterinary, phytosanitary, ecological and/or other kinds of state control may be required to exercise with respect to the imported goods depending on their types.  Please also note that the certain types of permits should be obtained by the individuals before importation of the respective types of goods (e.g. guns, drugs/narcotics, exotic plant, protected types of flora and fauna, cultural valuables, etc.).