Customs does not give the go-ahead: Internet commerce ran into a border barrier

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Customs does not give the go-ahead: Internet commerce ran into a border barrier
Customs does not give the go-ahead: Internet commerce ran into a border barrier
16 March, 12:00Photo: Фото: 1MI
Since last year, long before the imposition of sanctions, the customs offices of the capital’s Sheremetyevo and Vnukovo airports, as well as the Aviation Electronic Declaration Center, have been unreasonably delaying CDEK parcels.

As well as are refusing to export returnable goods from Russia that Russians bought online and subsequently documented a return process.

Ivan Petrovsky

Dozens of tons of goods lie in warehouses, and the financial damage is estimated at tens of thousands of dollars.

Jamon stuck in Sheremetyevo

Delays at Sheremetyevo began at the end of last year. Dozens of parcels with jamon from Spain were detained.

Customs officials justified the refusal to release the parcels by “non-compliance with prohibitions and restrictions in accordance with the Decree of the Russian government dated August 7, 2014 No. 778.” This decree lists agricultural products, raw materials and foodstuffs from the EU countries, the USA, Canada, Australia and other countries prohibited from being imported into Russia.

But the fact is that this ban does not apply to goods that citizens buy abroad and bring into the country for personal use. In accordance with paragraph 1 of article 3 of the agreement on the procedure for the movement of goods for personal use by individuals, citizens have the right to import “sanctioned” goods in the amount of up to 5 kg into the country.

The Customs Code of the Eurasian Economic Union (clause 1, article 2) defines “importation of goods” as “the performance of actions that are associated with crossing the customs border of the Eurasian Economic Union and as a result of which goods arrived in the customs territory of the union by any means, including shipment in international postal items, the use of pipeline transport and power lines, before the release of such goods by the customs authorities.

But the leadership of the Sheremetyevsky customs post, at its discretion, interprets the combination "import by individuals" literally. That is, in their opinion, a person has the right to bring the "sanctioned" goods only in a suitcase, and not - in this case - order online.

Correspondence with the Sheremetyevo customs post has been going on for the third month already. CDEK was denied the issuance of a certified copy of the official response of the customs. Instead, the company received only a track number to track the letter by mail. On February 22, SDEK appealed to the Transport Prosecutor's Office of the Russian Federation, the Investigative Committee and the Federal Customs Service with a complaint against the actions of the employees of the Sheremetyevo customs point and a request for an audit.

As long as the correspondence with Sheremetyevo customs officers lasts, parcels with jamon remain in the temporary storage warehouse of the airport. Jamon will not go bad, but the mood of the customers has deteriorated, and CDEK, in turn, has suffered reputational losses.

Clothing stuck in the Aviation Electronic Declaration Center

In online trading, as in any other trade, cases inevitably arise when goods are not suitable for the buyer for objective reasons and they must be returned to the seller - there is no escape from this.

In the Aviation Center for Electronic Declaration, CDEK processes the return of orders from customers of the Chinese online store SHEIN.

At the moment, over 60 tons of goods are stuck at customs, with about one more ton added every day. SDEK has already filed a declaration for paperwork for the export of goods four times and received an unmotivated refusal four times. We do not understand what specifically does not suit the customs officers.

The declaration contains the numbers of the registers by which the goods were imported into Russia. Employees of the electronic declaration center request these registers from CDEK, having direct access to them in electronic form, since each register was issued by customs upon importation and has a registration customs number.

This situation has already been taken into account in the Customs Code. If the customs has direct access to the information, the carrier has the right not to provide it and indicate only the register numbers, which is what CDEK did. On the other hand, the customs authority still has the right to request such information, with which the CDEK does not argue, but clarifies that if it is requested, then at least in accordance with paragraph 5 of Art. 325 of the Customs Code of the Eurasian Economic Union “the request for documents and (or) information from the declarant must be justified and contain a list of signs indicating that the information contained in other documents is not properly confirmed or may be unreliable, a list of additionally requested documents and (or) information, as well as the terms for the provision of such documents and (or) information. But customs did not say what her suspicions were based on.

To expedite the resolution of the situation, CDEK provided the documents requested by customs. But then the customs officers demanded to correlate the numbers of goods in the declaration with the numbers in the register, which is technically impossible to do. Goods for personal use are imported into Russia without identification marks. When they arrive at the CDEK warehouse, when they are returned, they cease to qualify "for personal use." Accordingly, it is impossible to send them back according to the same rules, they must be declared in a different way. By their actions, the customs for some reason drives the Russian logistics operator, and hence its customers, into a corner with impossible requirements.

CDEK applied to the Transport Prosecutor's Office and is going to send complaints to other regulatory authorities.

In connection with the current situation, CDEK suffers not only reputational, but also financial losses. The logistics operator has an agreement with Air Bridge Cargo to transport a certain number of tons of cargo to Hong Kong on a weekly basis. Regardless of whether a certain amount of cargo has accumulated or not, the company pays for it. CDEK has already missed one flight due to the current situation with customs. Losses are already estimated at tens of thousands of dollars and they are constantly growing.

Vnukovo does not release parcels from the airport

Since August 2021, CDEK has faced unreasonable refusals to export SHEIN store goods from Russia at the customs post of Vnukovo airport. During the next check during export clearance, Vnukovo customs officers requested additional documents from CDEK to confirm the status of goods (Article 139 of the Customs Code of the EAEU and subparagraph 12, paragraph 1 of Article 108 of the Customs Code of the EAEU). That is, SDEK literally offered to prove that the goods that she received from Russian citizens here - in Russia - ended up in Russia legally. The customs authority does have the right to do so, but only if the documents originally submitted when submitting the customs declaration do not contain the necessary information or show signs of non-compliance with the provisions of the Customs legislation.

It turns out an absurd situation: customs officers know that CDEK is not entitled to investigate how the goods once got to Russia, and personal secrets are protected by law. Despite the fact that customs cannot substantiate their suspicions, FEDEC must still do so.

In addition, the officials of the customs post of Vnukovo airport demanded that the CDEK employees provide the goods for inspection, and after its presentation they refused to do this, without explaining why they did not want to fulfill their official duties.

Evidence of this fact was recorded by SDEK employees on video and provided for trial to the transport prosecutor's office and the Investigative Committee.

The request for inspection was sent to CDEK in violation of the form established by law. In this regard, it can be argued that CDEK did not receive any official requirements.

All this is systematic and it is not possible to legally issue goods, which means that some other way of working is implied.

The situation started in August 2021. We are talking about the customs post at Vnukovo airport. If the declaration is drawn up at another post of the air harbor of the country, then such problems do not arise.

In November 2021, CDEK sent about 60 applications: to the Moscow Prosecutor’s Office for Supervision of the Enforcement of Laws in Air and Water Transport, applications to initiate a criminal case to the Western Interregional Investigation Department on Transport of the Investigative Committee, and reports of corruption to the Anti-Corruption Department of the Federal Customs Service with a request to look into the situation.

The Investigative Committee in its response wrote about the transfer of consideration of this issue to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The anti-corruption division of the customs service found no signs of corruption in the actions of customs officers. The prosecutor's office confirmed that the request for an inspection had been sent through a simple request, and not in the form prescribed by law.

When the customs will give the go-ahead

Aleksey Linenko, Head of the Customs Clearance and Customs Procedures Department of CDEK-Global LLC, noted that all three problematic issues: in Vnukovo, Sheremetyevo and in the Aviation Center for Electronic Declaration are similar to the story that happened at the end of last year at the crossing of the international checkpoint "Torfyanovka" on border of Russia and Finland, where customs officers carried out numerous and unjustified enhanced inspections of goods of individuals imported into the territory of Russia, including using an X-ray machine.

Then the problem was solved, including by attracting attention through the media, as well as the high-quality and efficient work of the transport prosecutor's office.

In the context of trade turbulence, the pandemic and the current political situation, online shopping is for many the only and safest way to shop. Obstructing this entails a violation of the rights and legitimate interests of citizens, and obviously unrealistic illegal requirements can contribute to the emergence of corruption schemes that CDEK cannot afford to take.

It is also worth noting that in the new realities, CDEK remained the only Russian logistics operator that continued its work in international directions. There is another assumption about the reason for this situation. From January 1, 2020, duty-free importation of goods from abroad applies to purchases up to 200 euros. Above - you will have to pay 15% duty. These figures have not changed this year. It is more profitable for a large number of Russians to buy certain categories of goods abroad. Moreover, in foreign online stores, prices are significantly lower. And this is an objective reality with which you can no longer argue.

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