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Russian Customs

Respecting the Russian customs is advisable, because breaking customs regulations may result in divestment of your belongings, plus you might have to pay fines measuring in 100 to 300 percent of their cost.

You can take along with you any personal belongings which you will be needing during your stay in St.Petersburg, for instance, clothes, objects of personal hygiene, travelling equipment, one videocamera and one photo camera, one tape-recorder etc. Besides personal belongings you may bring to St.Petersburg duty-free:

  • foreign currency (unlimited, but prohibited to take out more than you have brought)
  • diamonds: 0.5 karats
  • 5 items of jewelry
  • 5 litres of alcohol (if you are over 21 years old)
  • 1,000 cigarettes (if you are over 16 years old)
  • 3 items or 1 outfit of leather clothing
  • 2 carpets
  • 3 hats
  • one set or 3 crystal dishes
  • 20 litres of petrol, besides that in tank (if you are arriving in your own car)
  • inexpensive souvenirs in reasonable amounts
You may take the following items out of St.Petersburg duty-free:
  • 5 kg of fish
  • 280 g of black caviar
  • 280 g of red caviar
  • medicines (1 pack of each kind)
  • Russian-made colour metal products: not more than 20 kg
  • gold or platinum jewelry: 5 items of total weight not more than 30 g
  • silver jewelry: 120 g
  • precious stone jewelry: 5 items
  • 20 litres of petrol, other than that in tank (if you are leaving in your own car)
Prohibited to import:
  • arms and ammunitions
  • narcotics
  • books, videofilms and other items which can inflict harm on Russia
Forbidden to export:
  • weapons
  • narcotics
  • invalidated valuables
  • any Russian orders or medals
  • books, videofilms and other items which can inflict harm on any foreign state

If you are buying pictures or sculptures in a gallery, don't forget to ask for a written permission from the author of the piece, in which it should be mentioned that he or she does not object to you taking this masterpiece outside the country. After getting the permission, you need to go to Griboyedov Canal Embankment, 107 or to Theatre Square, 6, where a special state institution is located (the two addresses are of the same building). Here the certificate for the export of paintings and sculptures is given. You must have the painting or sculpture, your passport and Russian currency with you. Office hours of this institution are as follows: Monday: 16.00 to 18.00, Wednesday: 14.00 to 17.00, Thursday and Friday: 11.00 to 17.00. Telephone: 314-8234. If you haven't got two photographs of the painting or sculpture you've bought (which happens most of the time), you can take them right at the spot, which will cost you around two dollars for the legalization of your export of art articles. Besides this, you need to fill out an application for the export of paintings and sculptures right there. After that you'll need to pay for the official evaluation of your masterpieces. The evalution costs about $ 3 to 5, depending on the value of the item. Moreover, you need to pay a customs fee, for an ordinary painting it is approximately $ 40. The whole procedure might take an hour or so, if you are not waiting for your turn.

It is not recommended to take along the items that are prohibited to export or import, and then to mention them in the declaration form. Let's say you have bought a military medal from a street vendor and you were told that the item is allowed to take outside the country. You believed the vendor and mentioned the medal in the declaration form. The customs officer may not pay any attention to your declaration of that item, but sooner or later the declaration form will be read carefully and then you will be offered an opportunity to hand it over to the people seeing you off, or they might offer you to leave that item at the customs. There it will be kept safely for two months, but after two months you should forget about it, as it will be lost. If you refuse to leave the items, then, without any pity, they will offer you to return them where you've bought them and get your money back. In such cases most people just give their acquisitions away.

Those trying to export prohibited items and not declaring them should expect the worst of all. In these cases, besides the confiscation, one has to pay a fine ranging from 100 % to 300 % of the items' cost.

If undeclared prohibited items are found in any secret or hidden section inside your suitcase, for example laying between the bottom layers of the suitcase, or if you have tried to export many of the banned items, then your actions are regarded as deliberate breaking of customs regulations and persecuted as a crime.

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