Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan establish Customs Union

Natalia Gulyaeva

Hogan Lovells

As of 1 January 2010, Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan have established a Customs Union constituting a common customs territory with an external customs border embracing Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

New Customs Union

The legal basis of the Customs Union was created by the adoption of the Unified Customs Tariff and the signature of the Agreement on the Customs Code of the Customs Union on 27 November 2009.

Following the creation of the Customs Union, the Russian-Belorussian border customs control will be abolished, starting 1 July 2010. The import/export customs clearance procedures are no longer applicable to goods in trade between Russia and Belarus. The same is planned to become effective for the Russian-Kazakh border as of 1 July 2011 (before this date the regime will be introduced for the trade between Russia and Belarus only partially).

The new customs regime will most probably result in a more intense circulation of goods within the Customs Union territory.

In order to prevent the import of counterfeited goods into the member states from third countries and, therefore, to minimize the risk of the circulation of such goods within the Customs Union territory, the Customs Code of the Customs Union requires a unified register for intellectual property rights of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan to be established. The work on introducing the unified register is currently being processed but no precise time frame for establishing the register is scheduled yet. Thus, at the moment, the only workable solution available to rights holders is to make sure that the trademarks used in the territory of the Customs Union are registered in each of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan and to record trademarks and copyrights (where applicable) with the Customs Services of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Upon introduction of the unified customs register, recordal on the unified customs register is to be highly recommended.

Encryption-enabled devices

Furthermore, on 1 January 2010 unified non-tariff regulation rules entered into force. These rules provide for a new procedure for customs clearance of electronic devices with encryption (cryptographic) technologies (such as cell phones, laptops, PDAs, Bluetooth devices etc.). The importer or exporter of such devices will now need to obtain a licence from or file a notification with an authorized state authority (e.g. with the Federal Security Service and Ministry for Industry and Trade in Russia). The filing of a notification for a particular product by the producer or its authorized representative will allow the import of this product into the member states of the Customs Union by any importers, without the need to apply for further permissions in the other member-states. Similar rules apply for alcoholic products and pharmaceuticals.


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