Importing and Exporting in Russia

Importing and Exporting in Russia

Updated on Friday 09th September 2022

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Being the largest country in the world by land mass grants Russia access to a variety of natural resources. It is no wonder most part of Russian exports consists of its natural gas, oil, and metals, while the Russian imports have been lately focusing on advanced engineering, renewable energy, plastics, iron and steel, meat etc.
There are certain Russian certifications and licenses to be obtained for those companies which want to import or export goods in or from Russia. On the other hand, Russia offers special custom benefits and obligations to several countries which have signed special treaties.
Our lawyers in Russia can offer information on the import/export regulations applicable in this country. We can also help foreign investors relocate to this country with the help of our immigration lawyers in Russia.

What are the main imported products in Russia?

Even if Russia is one of the largest exporters in the world in terms of crude and refined oil and agricultural products, it also imports various products, among which the most imported are:
  •  various types of auto vehicles and car spare parts, which represent 4% of the country’s total imports;
  •  computers and computer parts, as well as other communications equipment;
  •  medicines and packaged medicines are also on top of Russian companies’ import list;
  •  Russia also imports textiles, materials and various clothing items on a regular basis.


When it comes to imports, Russia’s main import partners are China, Germany, Italy and the United States of America.

The most exported products from Russia

As mentioned earlier, Russia’s most exported products are crude and refined petroleum and agricultural products, among which cereals occupy the first position in the export list of agricultural companies in Russia. However, Russia also exports metals, such as aluminum and iron, and coal. Russia also exports packaged medicines.
Among its export partners, we mention the Netherlands, Italy, and Poland in Europe, China in Asia and the United States in North America.

Imports and exports in Russia

Russia is one of the largest exporters in the world, occupying the first position in the world when it comes to the export of natural resources like coal, and among the top exporters of oil and gas. Russia is also one of the largest exporter of cereals in the world. When it comes to imports, Russian companies have only started to import products such as machinery and equipment during the last few years. Russia’s main import and export partner is the European Union. Countries in the EU are also the greatest foreign investors in Russia.
Our Russian lawyers can assist foreign investors who want to set up trading companies in this country. Plus, our immigration lawyers in Russia can provide assistance for company relocation.

Setting up a trading business in Russia

Foreign investors interested in doing business in the import-export sector in Russia can set up trading companies. There are no restrictions applied to foreigners interested in opening trading companies in Russia, which is why the registration procedure can be completed in a fast manner.
The following procedure must be completed in order to set up a trading business in Russia:
  •     the documents needed to register the business must be prepared and filed with the Trade Register;
  •     the company will then need to register for VAT with the tax authorities;
  •     the company must also register with the Customs Authorities and obtain clearance for trading goods;
  •     a trade license must be obtained with the Ministry of Industry and Trade in Russia;
  •     the company must appoint a manager who will handle the relation with the Customs Authorities.


Our law firm in Russia can guide foreign investors interested in opening trading companies in this country. We can help with the preparation of the documents need for business registration in this country.

Obtaining a trading license for import-export activities in Russia

The licensing phase of a trading company is one of the most important steps in operating an import-export business in Russia. This license is issued by the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade and has a validity period of one year. It can also be renewed.
Apart from the general trading license, a company is required to obtain specific licenses based on the goods to be imported or exported from the country. These licenses must be accompanied by other documents which attest to the origin of the goods. It is important to know that the list of documents accompanying goods to be imported or exported into/outside Russia will depend on the type of products, but also on its country of origin.
In order to ease import-export procedures, Russia has entered into various trade agreements with countries worldwide and has also become part of the Eurasian Economic Union. Also, Russian companies involved in trading activities with companies in EU countries can obtain EORI numbers which will facilitate their entering in these countries.
We remind that if you are interested in immigration to Russia, you can get in touch with us.

Import-export documentation in Russia

As mentioned earlier, a Russian company involved in import-export activities is required to supply or make sure the following documents accompany the products:
  •  invoices;
  •  the packaging list of the products;
  •  information about the quantity of the products;
  •  the commercial agreement or contract for the supply of the respective products;
  •  the import/export license for those specific goods;
  •   the certificate of conformity;
  •   the certificate of origin, where applicable;
  •   the sanitary certificate, where applicable;
  •   the transport documentation.


There are also certain products which require special licenses, among which pesticides, various types of electronics and jewelry which must be accompanied by licenses issued by the Foreign Economic Relations Ministry when exported by Russian companies.

Custom duties

Russia`s main custom control body is the Federal Customs Service (FCS) and it is under the authority of the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade. Its main prerogative is to implement Russia`s custom tax collection and to make sure importers and exporters comply with the Russian conventional embargos and limitation regarding goods moved across Russian borders.
The WTO`s main goal is to have a system which is unbiased, constant and impartial and, by joining this organization in 2012, Russia aligned its valuation procedures to the same principles. However, there is still no clear process and certain unforeseen documents might sometimes be required.
Om the other hand, the formalities for immigration to Russia can be managed by our team for those interested.

Import and export duties in Russia

In Russia, import duty applies to the majority of goods and varies as an average between 5% and 20% of the customs value of goods, but might even reach 45% in extreme cases. There are certain countries for which only base rates apply, reducing the expenses down to half as these countries have a special status as the "most favored nation of Russia".
Importing and exporting in Russia of some specific merchandises such as transit goods, cultural valuables, humanitarian aids or personal use goods is convenient as these goods are not required to pay customs duties even if, for personal use goods there are some weight and value restrictions of approximately 35 kg. and EUR 1,500. There are countries parts of CIS(Commonwealth of Independent States) that are exempted from paying customs duties.
For all goods going through Russian customs, there are certain Russian custom processing charges which can fluctuate between EUR 12 and EUR 2,400 depending on value and quantity and together with other ascribed payments have to be paid to the Russian customs and borders before submitting the declaration to customs and supported with documents of origin.
At this moment, Russia`s first trading partner is EU and if European citizens or any other type of expats are situated in Russia and reside there for more than a certain amount of days per year, they can take advantage of the same taxation system of 13% as the Russian individuals, percentage much lower than in any of the European countries.
All in all, Russia’s importing and exporting systems and processes are yet not very clear or standardized. The past years have brought many changes as Russia’s customs policies are trying to align with those of the WTO and become more transparent. Nevertheless, there are obvious advantages to importing and exporting in Russia as this state is willing to offer many custom exemptions for its constant trading partners as well as for certain products imported into Russia.
For more information about imports and exports in Russia and the documents you need for performing these activities, you may contact our law firm in Russia. You can also rely on us for assistance offered by our immigration lawyers in Russia.