Shippers Push Against Bureaucracy at Russian Ports

Russia’s leading shippers and transport companies have formally petitioned the Ministry of Transport to drastically reduce the customs paperwork needed for imports and exports, as the Journal of Commerce reports.

Although European ports have streamlined their customs paperwork, Russian import and export paperwork remains extraneous and unwieldy, which shippers say leads to bureaucratic delays and hurdles that increase their costs 15 percent to 20 percent.

“Since June 1, 2015, European ports switched to one electronic document, not requiring any paper copies of the documentation,” said Vladimir Korostelev, head of a working group on monitoring marine checkpoints in Russia’s legislative body. “Russian seaports may require up to 44 forms of paper documents.”

This extra documentation means it can take two to three days for cargo to clear a Russian port compared with several hours in most of Europe, according to Sergey Malakhov, head of Nadezhny Zapchasti, a large distributor of Russian auto parts from China.

Although these issues affect all Russian ports, they are most seriously impacting southern ports, particularly Novorossiysk. The situation in the Russian northwest, home to the biggest Russian gateway of St. Petersburg, is slightly better.

Russian port administrations say they understand the frustration, but there is little they can do to fix the problem.

Legislative Order No. 140 of the Russian Ministry of Transport and Article 159 of the Customs Code of Russia, requires shippers and transport companies to present up to 29 documents during the handling and execution of cargo at Russian seaports, according to Vladimir Korolev, first deputy captain of the Novorossiysk seaport.

The government is aware of the problems with having too much required paperwork, and efforts to solve them are well underway, including the use of a single window known as Morskoi Port, according to a spokesperson of Minister of Transport Maxim Sokolov. The ministry believes that the new system, which was first used at some ports on Oct. 1, will correct most of these problems by the end of this year.

The Morskoi Port system is full of flaws and weaknesses, and it requires the input of excessive information such as various HS codes, commodity costs, and other information, shippers told JOC.com. Additionally, Russian customs regulations mandate that transportation companies provide that information, but the transporters are usually unable to do so because they accept containers that have already been packed and sealed.

Shippers and transport companies will come to appreciate the new system and fully realize its benefits next year, the ministry said.

Starting next year, cargo clearance at Russian ports should take no more than two hours, according to statements from Oleg Makarsksy, deputy chief of Russian Baltic Customs.