Special Cargo Needs Special Requirements

Diplomatic cargo is a special issue. And its customs clearance is regulated by a lot of norms starting from the international acts such as Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961, Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963. Besides it is regulated by the special agreements between Russia and several international organizations (ex. official contact between the European Space Agency and the Government of the Russian Federation), by the Customs Code of the Customs Union and the Russian legislature.

It is the first feature of customs registration of similar goods. Another follows from the special status of foreign missions. They are exempted from customs duties, they have judicial immunity that limits possibilities of administrative office-work. And in case of problems diplomatic missions can address to the MFA of Russia or the Federal Customs Service – or to introduce similar restrictions for the Russian representations in the countries.
Diplomatic missions interact with customs authorities independently quite often because of preferential terms of customs registration. Nevertheless, sometimes they need help.


The specifics of the sphere force to approach each case individually, - CEO of ACEX in Yekaterinburg Vadim Mardanov tells. He was engaged in transportation of diplomatic cargo more than once: Certainly, it is not the most frequent business – but we have an experience. The difference of such transportations is that they have several stages. And not all companies can carry out certain operations. For example, packing – the companies having the certificate can be engaged in it. When we worked with the American Embassy, there was a certified company which was responsible for packing – provided boxes, and their adhesive tape was actually a seal, a guarantee of cargo safety. We were responsible for transportation from Yekaterinburg to Domodedovo – further freight got on their flight. In other case we have agreed to provide boxes and adhesive tape from our company, the staff of the Embassy was engaged in packing, and we loaded and delivered. So these are special cases we approach flexibly, with a possibility of various decisions.”

Vadim Mardanov also notes a bit different approach of diplomatic representatives to documents – sometimes they should be advised on cargo handling to avoid problems. On the other hand, experts are sure that final weakening of customs control would lead to growth of abuses and smuggling in this sphere.

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CEO of ACEX in St. Petersburg Evgeny Apasov also considers that the main thing in the organization of such deliveries is experience. It allows foreseeing all nuances: “We are engaged in transportation of diplomatic cargo for many years. We are responsible for the transportation itself – our partners do paperwork – we have permanent, old partners on each stage. There are both pluses and minuses in the special status of cargo. If there is a sign of a diplomatic cargo the customs stays loyal. The main thing is that all formalities – the special declaration, packing, the description of contents have been observed. The way of delivery – air, sea or road – depends on freight volumes. We select an optimal variant – as not all sea and airline, for example, undertake this business.”

The objects intended for official use of foreign mission and objects for private use of the diplomatic agent and members of his family fall under the category of diplomatic cargo. Sometimes there are unexpected things hiding under these descriptions.

CARGO EXPRESS imported heavy cargo for the Embassy of one of the countries. Evgenya Vidulina, ACEX agency network coordinator speaks about her experience: “When I contacted the representative of the Embassy, it turned out to be that they had no work experience with heavy cargo before as they received only mail and small parcels,”- comments Evgenia Vidulina. “There was a need in the cargo delivery to the building of the Consular department of the Embassy, and they had no load carrying transport as well as personnel the machine unloading and placement of the equipment on the first floor of the Consular Department.

And not so long ago ACEX delivered scarves and banners for the Saudi Arabia team to Russia. Those scarves and banners which everybody could see at the Luzhniki stadium during the World Cup 2018 opening ceremony as well as at the following game where our team won with the score 5:0. The sports attributes had a total weight of more than 1 ton.

There is a procedure of such goods release for internal consumption. It is necessary to pay all customs fees. Or it is possible to issue refusal in favor of the state and destruction of the goods which are temporarily imported for a foreign mission – most often it concerns cars.

The scarves and banners with the Saudi Arabia symbols were supposed to follow this procedure after they were out of the tournament. At least nobody requested to export them back.


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