EU Sanctions Update: Prohibited Import of Russian Cars Confirmed by European Commission

The European Commission has released new clarifications regarding the interpretation of sanctions legislation concerning Russia.

According to these clarifications, the entry of passenger cars registered in Russia into EU countries is considered prohibited import, regardless of whether the vehicles are used for private or commercial purposes.

Stock market
Stock market

This prohibition applies to vehicles falling under customs code 8703, which includes passenger cars and other vehicles designed to carry less than ten people. The European Commission believes that cars with Russian license plates and registered in Russia are likely to be included in the category of vehicles “exported” from Russia.

In the past, some Russians who traveled to Germany in their cars experienced the seizure of their vehicles by customs officials. German customs confirmed that the import of passenger cars from Russia is prohibited under Article 3i of Regulation 833/2014, which defines the embargo against Russia. This interpretation raised concerns among lawyers, as Article 3i prohibits the import or transfer of goods listed in Annex XXI, which are deemed to “produce significant income for Russia.” Russian lawyers argued that such situations were the result of abuse by government officials or an incorrect interpretation of German customs legislation regarding the distinction between importing and entering the country with a personal car. The position of the European regulator was unclear at the time.

The European Commission has now clarified that Russian citizens are not allowed to temporarily bring personal belongings and vehicles listed in Appendix XXI to Article 3i into the European Union, even for tourism purposes. The import, acquisition, or transfer of goods listed in Annex XXI, including vehicles falling under customs code 8703, is prohibited if they originate in or are exported from Russia. However, it should be noted that each EU country has the authority to decide how to implement sanctions, so the explanation provided by the European Commission is not legally binding.

There is a risk that customs authorities in EU countries may not allow the entry of personal belongings of Russians, including tourists, such as cosmetics, suitcases, laptops, and mobile phones, which are listed in Appendix XXI to Article 3i. Other items listed in Annex XXI include leather and fur products, semi-precious and precious stones, toilet paper, shampoos, toothpaste, trailers, and semi-trailers for the transport of goods, yachts, and cameras. It is advisable to refrain from importing these goods into Germany, according to Sergei Glandin, a partner at BGP Litigation.

The European Commission’s new clarifications can be found in the frequently asked questions section on sanctions against Russia. It is important to note that this section is intended to provide guidance to national authorities, economic operators, and EU citizens on the enforcement and interpretation of relevant sanctions laws in relation to Russia. However, the ultimate authority to interpret legislation lies with the European Court.

Leave a Reply