New legislation changing the procedure for the accreditation of branch and representative offices of foreign commercial companies was recently adopted in Russia. The legislation will be effective from 1 January 2015. According to the new legal requirements, the State Registration Chamber which is currently responsible for the accreditation process is to be dissolved. Instead, a new state authority will be responsible for the accreditation for most types of companies (“New Accreditation Body”). This identity of this authority is yet to be announced. However, it is already determined that for aviation companies and foreign banks the Federal Agency for Air Transport (Rosaviation) and the Central Bank of Russia, will act as the respective accreditation authorities.

The powers of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry which currently issues permissions for the opening of representative offices of foreign companies in Russia will also change. Its functions will be limited to the personal accreditation of foreign citizens employed by the branches and representative offices of foreign companies to work in Russia, assistance with the visa support process and certain other functions.

Effective from 2015, the maximum period required for the accreditation body to perform the accreditation process is to be increased to 25 business days from 18 business days. Further, the new legislation does not permit an expedited review process as is currently possible. According to the new rules, any changes to the register of foreign accredited branches and representative offices should be registered within 10 business days of filing the relevant documents by the branches and representative offices.

The law requires that all branches and representative offices of foreign companies established prior to 2015 (except those of aviation companies), to file information with the New Accreditation Body and to make the relevant entries to the state register of the accredited branches and representative offices. The forms and procedure for these filings has yet to be established.

In the event that branch and representative offices fail to comply with the above requirements, their accreditation will terminate on 1 April 2015.

The branch and representative offices whose accreditation does not expire on 1 April 2015 will continue to be accredited for the term specified in their accreditation documents. Branches and representative offices (except those of aviation companies) whose accreditation expires after 1 January 2015 will be able to apply for an extension of their accreditation within 30 days prior to its expiration. The branch and representative offices (except for those for aviation companies) whose accreditation expires during the period from 1 to 31 January 2015 will have the right to apply for accreditation in accordance with the rules established by Federal Law “On Foreign Investments into Russian Federation” (as amended) from 1 to 28 February 2015.