Customs and Duties

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TRAVEL TIPS

Customs and Duties

You're always allowed to bring goods of a certain value back home without having to pay any duty or import tax. But there's a limit on the amount of tobacco and liquor you can bring back duty-free, and some countries have separate limits for perfumes; for exact figures, check with your customs department. The values of so-called duty-free goods are included in these amounts. When you shop abroad, save all your receipts, as customs inspectors may ask to see them as well as the items you purchased. If the total value of your goods is more than the duty-free limit, you'll have to pay a tax (most often a flat percentage) on the value of everything beyond that limit.

Upon arrival in Russia, you first pass through passport control, where a border guard will carefully examine your passport and visa.

It's very important that you fill out a migration card and get it stamped while passing though passport control. These white cards are automatically issued on some flights, but not all. It's possible to enter the country without one, but lack of a card can cause all manner of headaches, from hotel registration problems to document checks by police. If you're not given a card, ask for one (migratsionnaya karta for one, migratsionnye karty for several) or look for them on stands in the arrivals hall.

If you haven't been given a customs form on the plane, look for the forms on a table or stand at customs after retrieving your luggage. You must keep it until your departure, when you'll be asked to present it again (along with a second, identical form noting any changes). You may import free of duty and without special license any articles intended for personal use, including clothing, food, tobacco, up to 200 cigarettes, two liters of alcoholic drinks, perfume, sports equipment, and camera equipment. One video camera and one laptop computer per person are allowed. Importing weapons and ammunition, as well as opium, hashish, and pipes for smoking them, is prohibited. The punishment for carrying illegal substances is severe. You’re allowed to bring up to $10,000 in cash without declaring it. It's important to include any valuable items, such as musical instruments, and the like, on the customs form to ensure that you'll be allowed to take them back with you out of Russia (note that you're expected to take them with you, so you cannot leave them behind as gifts). If an item included on your customs form is stolen, you should obtain a police report to avoid being questioned upon departure. Technically you're allowed to bring into the country only up to $3,000 of consumer items for personal use and gifts. But customs agents at the airport have been enforcing this rule sporadically at best, and won’t likely challenge you on this front unless you have an excessive amount of luggage. For information about bringing domestic animals in and out of Russia, seewww.moscowanimals.org.

Anything that’s likely to be considered valuable art or an antique (this could include coins, manuscripts, or icons) by customs officials requires a receipt from the Committee for Culture showing that you’ve paid a special tax on it. Art and antique dealers usually have updated information about this, but for more details call 495/975–1918 in Moscow and 812/311–5196 in St. Petersburg.

Information in Russia

Russian Federal Customs Service. The site includes some information in English. www.eng.customs.ru.

U.S. Information

U.S. Customs and Border Protection. www.cbp.gov.

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