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Bringing in gifts for seminar attendees

Windermere, Florida
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752 posts
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Bringing in gifts for seminar attendees

We are going to St. Petersburg in a few weeks so my husband can speak at a seminar. He intends to bring t-shirts in for the attendees, which he is giving to them free-of charge. Will bringing in a large number of t-shirts (say 50-60) raise some eyebrows when we enter the country? We don't want anyone to think he is selling them; they are simply gifts. I have no idea what it is like to pass through customs to enter Russia.

Thank you for your help!

Moscow, Russia
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1. Re: Bringing in gifts for seminar attendees

> Will bringing in a large number of t-shirts (say 50-60) raise some eyebrows when we enter the country?

I'm afraid it will.

> We don't want anyone to think he is selling them; they are simply gifts

But it's going to be difficult to prove that to the customs. Try finding someone who has done something similar.

> I have no idea what it is like to pass through customs to enter Russia.

It's more or less the same as anywhere else - you either go through the green channel implicitly claiming you've got nothing to declare or you fill in the declaration and go through the red channel. Most people go through the green channel. Few people get stopped and asked to open their bags. If you're caught bringing in 60 t-shirts you're in trouble.

Moscow, Russia
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2. Re: Bringing in gifts for seminar attendees

That's a really tough question, because there's no PRACTICAL way to do it 100% legally. Nothing can justify 60 t-shirts for "personal use". Otherwise it becomes a commercial batch subject to customs clearance despite any cost or purpose. Classification of "personal use" is left at the discretion of a customs officer. And especially you don't want to mention any speaches at any seminars if you enter Russia with a tourist visa (do you?).

I see three warkarounds here:

1. Limit giveaways to just a dozen of t-shirts, this shouldn't cause problems with customs. Give t-shirts to the most active participants or raffle.

2. Shiip to a legal entity in Russia via a courier service - UPS, DHL, FedEx or whatever carrier you prefer (this will cost you quite a bit). Mark your shipment as "marketing materials" in pro-forma invoice with customs value of $1.50 per t-shirt. You'll need to make sure that total customs value (pro-forma + "volume cost") is below 200 euro for the shipment to stay duty-free. I'd recommend that local company consult the carrier and coordinate all accompanying papers before you ship.

3. Print t-shirts in Russia :)

New York
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for Moscow
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3. Re: Bringing in gifts for seminar attendees

The chances of him getting caught are small but the consequences can be serious. I wouldn't risk the green channel. If you go in the red channel have an invoice or some other proof of the cost of the t shirts available. They will hit him with a customs duty but that's a cost of doing business.

Windermere, Florida
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4. Re: Bringing in gifts for seminar attendees

Thanks for the input. We have decided to ship them to the hotel. Seems the most logical plan.

Moscow, Russia
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5. Re: Bringing in gifts for seminar attendees

This is probably the least risky plan for you. When you arrive at the hotel you will either find your shirts there or you will find a letter from the customs inviting you to come and expain and declare. In the latter case you simply ignore the letter and wave goodbye to the shirts.

Moscow, Russia
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6. Re: Bringing in gifts for seminar attendees

It's the addressee who does the customs paperwork if it's required. Custom clearance is done by the carrier. However with good preparation (my previous post is based on own experience) this step can be skipped.

P.S. I'd rather ship directly to Fish Fabrique (even not confident the carrier will accept the shipment to a hotel in Russia).

New York
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for Moscow
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7. Re: Bringing in gifts for seminar attendees

a letter from the customs inviting you to come and expain and declare

********

Probably the latter. I wouldn't count on the customs being a bunch of fools who don't deal with ppl stating a lowball shipment price to pull wool over their eyes, day in day out.

8. Re: Bringing in gifts for seminar attendees

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