The Duty Rate for All Tablet Importers Into Russia Will Be Zero

Many of Russian electronics importers recall, that in February 2012 the Federal Customs Service of Russia has sent the letter (dd. February 14, 2012 #TF?162) to all customs authorities. According to this letter, all the tablets made by Apple (iPads), were ought to be classified as computers (this means the zero rate of duty by HS code).

It is notable that the letter expressly agreed that these tablets may include an integrated GPS-module. But until now the exact same PCs from other manufacturers were classified by Customs as GPS-navigators, which implies the five percent rate of duty.

On May 11 the FCS abolished that letter (Order #906 dd. May 5, 2012) due to the fact, that in April the FCS issued the letter, according to which all the Tablet PCs that contain a navigation system, should be classified as computers (i.e., at zero rate of duty). According to officials, they were guided by the recent decision of the World Customs Organization.

One would think that now everything is OK and all the navigation tablets importers should be happy. However, there is nothing definite in the customs area. Thus, the Federal Antimonopoly Service is still conducting an investigation on the February FCS letter. Indeed, on what basis did the FCS “present” the zero rate of duty to one particular manufacturer for two months earlier than everyone else? Vyacheslav Kalinin, Managing Partner of IFCG ( (law company) commented this situation:

– The classification of specific brands and models of the goods shall not occur on the basis of the FCS letters of (there are preliminary decisions on the classification of goods, which are taken by the FCS at the request of importers in private).

In this context, there is another important fact: according to the information of IFCG, the Russian Apple officials have already received this preliminary decision. As a general rule, importers of tablets of other brands may also refer to the decision and request the zero rate of duty. In practice, however, if the importer cannot provide the decision for its own product (and only refers to information about someone else’s decision), Customs has the right to choose: to agree or disagree with it.

– The participants of foreign economic activity, who at least once applied to the FCS for the receipt of a preliminary decision on the classification, know how hard it is to get it (FCS requests a large amount of documents, refuses for formal reasons, delays time, etc.). In connection with this, it can be affirmed that, until now, the gateway to the Russian market of tablets is much broader for Apple, than for the other brands (according to available information, the price of Apple tablets declined appreciably over the past three months) – Vyacheslav resumes.

In conclusion, Vyacheslav Kalinin said that common importers must not give up. “You can and should protect your rights. You have to apply to the FCS, despite the failures and neglect; you can appeal against unlawful actions and inactivity of the FCS to the court. Our practice of judicial protection of the interests of the participants of foreign economic activity shows, that in most cases the courts take our side. The FCS also provides preliminary decisions on the classification, containing the correct code, on our requests – it is important to clearly and legally draw up the application and other documents. We have placed a free consultation material on our website ( for those, who are concerned.”

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