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Peculiarities of customs operations with regard to personal-use goods sent by international mail
(chapter 44 of the Customs Code of the Customs Union)
Peculiarities of customs operations with regard to goods sent by international mail are primarily determined by chapter 44 (articles 312-316) of the Customs Code of the Customs Union (hereinafter CCCU), the treaty on peculiarities of customs operations with regard to goods sent by international mail of 18 June 2010 (hereinafter the international mail treaty) that was adopted to build up on the CCCU’s said chapter, and several resolutions of the Customs Union Commission (hereinafter CUC), in particular, CUC resolution No. 310 of 18 June 2010 “Adoption of the instruction to specify the use of documents required by the Universal Postal Union in the capacity of customs declarations”.
In line with the CCCU international mail must be accompanied by documents specified by the Universal Postal Union.
Customs Union member states are parties to the Universal Postal Convention (Geneva, 2008) and acts of the Universal Postal Union.
International mail shipping (exchange, storage, delivery, handing in and other matters) are regulated by acts of the Universal Postal Union, the Belarusian law on mail service and other regulations that build up on it.
In line with article 5 of the World Postal Convention an international mail item is owned by the sender until the recipient receives it.
Designated operators are the bodies in charge of forwarding international mail in the World Postal Convention member states. Belpochta is the designated operator in Belarus.
The CCCU refers to the Customs Union legislation, acts of the Universal Postal Union, and CUC resolutions when quoting bans and restrictions of international mail forwarding.
In line with subparagraph 1 of paragraph 1 of article 313 of the CCCU the exports and imports banned by the Customs Union cannot be sent by international mail. Those are commodities, which cannot be imported and exported in line with the Customs Union legislation, including EurAsEC Interstate Council resolution No. 19 of 27 December 2009 “Common non-tariff regulations in the customs union of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia”.
In line with subparagraph 2 of paragraph 1 of article 313 of the CCCU international mail cannot be used to forward commodities, which forwarding is banned by the Universal Postal Union (the list of such commodities is specified by article 15 of the World Postal Convention and is virtually fully repeated by the mail service rules that have been enacted by Belarus’ Council of Ministers’ resolution No. 1111 of 7 September 2004).
In line with subparagraph 3 of paragraph 1 of article 313 of the CCCU international mail cannot be used to forward restricted commodities as specified by a CUC resolution. Developing the subparagraph with regard to commodities sent via international mail by juridical persons and sole traders, the CUC passed resolution No. 338 of 17 August 2010 “Peculiarities of forwarding goods via international mail”.
Prohibitions on commodities sent via international mail by individuals taking into account chapter 49 (article 352) of the CCCU are also set by the Treaty on the procedure for transporting personal-use goods by natural persons via the customs border of the customs union and customs operations required for their release dated by 18 June 2010 (hereinafter the treaty on transporting personal-use goods).
Among other things international mail cannot be used to forward:
any kinds of weapons (their parts), ammunition (parts thereof), products designed similarly to civilian and service weapons;
explosives, explosive devices, explosive means;
narcotics and psychotropic substances;
articles of obscene or immoral nature;
opportunistic organisms and pathogenic organisms;
alcohol products, ethyl alcohol and beer, any kinds of tobacco goods and smoking mixtures;
ferrous and non-ferrous waste metals, hazardous waste, ozone-depleting substances.
Customs declaration of the commodities, which are to be returned to the sender in cases specified by the Universal Postal Union, is performed by the designated mail service operator by submitting a written application to the customs agency and documents that accompanied the international mail item as specified by the Universal Postal Union.
Customs operations with regard to personal-use goods sent by international mail are as a rule performed by the customs agency in international mail traffic institutions.
Customs bodies use the optionality principle to carry out customs control in line with paragraph 1 of article 94 of the CCCU.
In line with article 315 of the CCCU the mail service operator has to produce an international mail item for customs examination if requested by the customs body. Ways to produce the item are determined by customs authorities.
Customs inspection or customs examination of commodities sent via international mail involves the use of technical means of customs control.
An international mail item that has been received by an international mail traffic institution with damaged packaging, with weight discrepancies, with damaged mailed item or without the necessary accompanying documents are sent to customs authorities together with a bill issued by the mail service operator.
If discrepancies are found with the number of sent items or the items themselves during a customs inspection, a mail service operator employee and a customs officer sign a customs examination report.
The mail service operator wields the authority with regard to goods sent by international mail. The mail service operator has to forward the mail for customs authorities to perform release operations or to examine the mail if necessary. Representatives of the mail service operator are to be present during customs operations with regard to goods sent via international mail, including customs examination.
In line with paragraph 2 of article 314 of the CCCU customs declaration of goods sent via international mail is performed using documents, which are specified by the Universal Postal Union and accompany the mail items, or using commodity declarations.
Customs declaration of commodities, which are sent via international mail and are exported outside the Customs Union, is performed before the commodities are forwarded by the mail service operator.
Duty-free import of personal-use goods into the Customs Union, including goods sent via international mail, is detailed by appendix 3 to the treaty on transporting personal-use goods.
A footnote in the appendix reads that commodities marked with an asterisk (*) can be subject to tougher import rules set by a Customs Union member state.
Due to the abovementioned, in line with paragraphs 11 and 16, section 3, appendix 3 of the treaty on transporting personal-use goods, personal-use goods, which are sent via international mail, are subject to the regulation on preferential transportation of personal-use goods via the customs border and their simplified customs clearance. The regulation was passed by Belarus President Decree No. 503 of 15 October 2007. The regulation introduces tougher norms for duty-free import of commodities to Belarus in relation to:
goods, which value does not exceed €120 and which are sent via international mail to a natural person addressee within one month (subparagraph 18.1, paragraph 18 of the regulation);
goods, which are imported via cargo consignations or express delivery consignations (for reference: they are not international mail items) within one month and which are sent to one addressee with the value under €10 (subparagraph 18.1, paragraph 18 of the regulation).
The part that exceeds the duty-free norm, including in cases of several international mail items imported by a single addressee within one month, is subject to customs duties as large as 30% of the value or at least €4 per 1kg in line with paragraph 8, section 3, appendix 5 of the treaty on transporting personal-use goods.
When personal-use goods, which are subject to customs taxes, are released, customs fees for the completion of customs operations must be paid. The size of the customs fees is an equivalent of €5 in line with the exchange rate of the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus on the day the customs declaration is registered as per Belarus President Decree No. 443 “Customs fees” of 13 July 2006.
If goods sent via international mail do not require declaration, customs authorities calculate customs duties and taxes using a receipt voucher, which form and filling in rules are laid down by CUC resolution No. 288 of 18 June 2010.
Items sent via international mail are released to their addressees by the mail service operator after the customs duties for the commodities sent via international mail are paid.
As far as the application of customs duties, taxes on commodities sent via international mail is concerned, the CCCU reads that if international mail is lost or is released without paying customs duties, the mail service operator will be responsible for paying the customs duties and taxes. The size of the customs duties and taxes is then determined by the CCCU and international treaties signed by Customs Union member states.