Reading comprehension texts for students of the customs specialty

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Дударева С С
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(reading comprehension texts for students of the customs specialty)


Учебно-методические материалы по английскому языку для студентов, обучающихся по специальности «Таможенное дело» факультета подготовки региональных кадров Нижегородского Государственного Университета им. Н. И. Лобачевского. – Н. Новгород: ННГУ им. Н. И. Лобачевского, 2010. – с. 19

Материалы предназначены для студентов, обучающихся по специальности «Таможенное дело» и изучающих английский язык с целью применения его в профессиональной деятельности. Данные учебно-методические материалы представляют собой набор текстов, тематика которых охватывает различные аспекты таможенного дела. К каждому тексту предложены упражнения для развития навыков чтения, понимания прочитанного, расширения лексического запаса по выбранной тематике, развития навыков обратного перевода.

Составитель: ассистент кафедры теории и методики дистанционного обучения Дударева С. С.

Рецензент: ст. преподаватель кафедры английского языка для естественнонаучных специальностей Богатова О. П.


Traveling By Air. Passport Control. Customs.

Nowadays people who go on business mostly travel by air, as it is the fastest way of traveling.

Here are a few hints on air travel that may be helpful.

Passengers are requested to arrive at the airport two hours before departure time on international flights and an hour on domestic flights as there must be enough time to complete the necessary airport formalities.

Passengers must register their tickets, weigh in and register the luggage. Most airlines have at least two classes of travel, first class and economy class, which is cheaper. Each passenger of more than two years of age has a free luggage allowance. Generally this limit is 20 kg for economy class passengers and 30 kg for first class passengers. Excess luggage must be paid for except for some articles that can be carried free of charge.

Each passenger is given a boarding pass to be shown at the departure gate and again to the stewardess when boarding the plane.

Landing formalities and customs regulations are more or less the same in all countries.

While still on board the plane the passenger is given an arrival card to fill in.

After the passenger has disembarked, officials will check his passport and visa. In some countries they will check the passenger’s certificate of vaccination.

When these formalities have been completed the passenger goes to the customs for an examination of his luggage.

As a rule, personal belongings may be brought in duty-free. If the traveler has nothing to declare he may just go through the ‘green’ section of the Customs.

In some cases the Customs inspector may ask you to open your bags for inspection. It sometimes happens that a passenger’s luggage is carefully gone through in order to prevent smuggling. After you are through with all customs formalities the inspector will put a stamp on each piece of luggage or chalk it off.


1. Why do businessmen travel mostly by air?

2. Why are passengers requested to arrive at the airport beforehand?

3. What airport formalities must passengers complete?

4. Do landing formalities and customs regulations vary in different countries?

5. How is the luggage checked at the customs?

Find the equivalents of the following words and expressions in the text:

время вылета; международные рейсы; внутренние рейсы; пройти необходимые формальности в аэропорту; путешествовать первым классом; путешествовать туристическим классом; указанное в билете количество багажа, которое пассажир имеет право провезти бесплатно; излишки багажа по билету; таможенные правила; формальности, выполняемые пассажиром после приземления; посадочный талон; ввезти что-либо беспошлинно; личные вещи.


Airport. Customs Information.

The system of Red and Green channels is used in Russian Federation.
Free import in cases:

  • total cost of the imported goods is less than 65 thousand rubles and/or total weight is less than 35 kg.

  • allowances are:

1. Alcoholic beverages (including beer)

2 litres

2. Tobacco products

50 cigars,
100 cigarillos,
200 cigarettes,
0,25 kg tobacco*

3. Caviar («black»)

Maximum – 250 gram per person

  • In case if only one type of tobacco being imported, 100 cigars, 200 cigarillos, 400 cigarettes and 0.5 kg tobacco allowed.

Taxes are taken in accordance with following rates:

For goods, with total price exceeding 65 thousand rubles and/or if their total weight exceeds 35 kg, but is less than 650 thousand rubles and 200 kg - 30 percent customs duty, but not less than 4 euro per kilogram in the exceeding part.

Refugees, unwilling migrants and permanent immigrants allowed importing goods for personal use without customs fees or taxes, cost or weight limitations.


  1. Exported goods for personal use do not come within customs fees or taxes.

  2. Archeological, historical and artistic objects are allowed for export with written permission of Ministry of Cultural Affairs confirming that the exported goods are either not under governmental accounting or are within the statute "import and export of cultural objects". A photograph of the exported object is needed.

  3. For all kind of weapons besides declaration, a special permit from Ministry of Internal Affairs is needed. This permit can be obtained at the relevant police authority.

  4. For bow-instruments besides declaration a special permit from Ministry of Cultural Affairs is needed. If the instrument is older than 50 years a special permission from Ministry of Cultural Affairs is needed.

Goods - subject for declaring.

  1. Imported goods with total price exceeding 65 000 RUB and/or with total weight exceeds 35 kg.

  2. Precious metals (gold, silver, platinum family, palladium, iridium, rhodium, ruthenium and osmium) in any appearance when imported temporarily or when exported (except temporary importation of jewelry including those which contain precious metals).

  3. Precious stones temporary imported, imported emeralds, rubies, sapphires, alexandrines, natural raw and treated pearls, unique amber formations, diamonds.

  4. Cultural valuables.

  5. Imported Russian Federation governmental rewards.

  6. Plants and animals, their parts, derivatives as well as drawn products from them, which are under the danger of extinction.

  7. Weapons (devices and items which are designed for killing human targets or signaling), firearms main parts (barrels, bolts, cylinders, receivers, breech frames), cartridges) and ammunition (shells, gunpowder etc.).

  8. Narcotic and psychotropic substances, and their precursors.

  9. Drastic and poisonous substances.

  10. Hf and radio-electronic devices except peripherals.

  11. Special technical devices designed for obtaining information secretly.

  12. Exported materials which contain National Security Information/State secret.

  13. Nuclear materials, special non-nuclear materials and relevant technologies.

  14. Exported raw materials, equipment, sci-tech information, results of intellectual activity, which may be used to crate weapons of mass-destruction, their delivery means, other types of arms and military hardware.

  15. Imported chemicals, which may be used to create chemical warfare.

  16. Military purpose products.

  17. Vehicles (means of transportations).

  18. Goods which are transported unescorted.

  19. Goods which are sent for an individual person for private use except goods which are sent in international mail.

Currency information

Local & Foreign currencies.
Import: allowed in equivalent of up to $10.000. Amount exceeding $10.000 is subject to declaration.
Export: if total amount exceeds $3.000 than written declaration required. If total amount exceeds $10.000 than the passenger is obliged to have written import declaration or other documentation confirming import or transferring foreign currencies to Russia on the amount that exceeds $10.000.


  1. Can you import goods duty free? What does it depend on?

  2. In what case are you allowed to export historical objects?

  3. Where can the permission to export weapons be obtained?

  4. How much money can you take with you from Russia without declaring it?

  5. What is ‘green channel’ and ‘red channel’?

Find the equivalents of the following words and expressions in the text:

таможенная пошлина; иностранная валюта; ввоз на территорию РФ; беженцы; иммигранты; вывозимые товары для личного пользования; закон о ввозе и вывозе объектов культуры; Министерство Внутренних дел; Министерство по делам культуры; письменная декларация; налоги.


Russia: Importing And Exporting

Tips for exporters

  • Generally, under exports and imports between a foreign company and a Russian company, the Russian company is responsible for the customs procedures.

  • In order to import goods into Russia and clear them through customs an importer has to make all customs payments due in accordance with the chosen customs regime and comply with other requirements established by customs legislation (e.g., certification requirements).

  • Importation of certain goods (e.g., pharmaceuticals, meat, etc.) requires licenses.

  • Russia has several special economic zones that offer customs benefits.

  Customs policy

Russia’s customs policy has seen several key areas of development:

  • Lowering of customs duty on imports of technical equipment;

  • Simplification of the customs clearance process;

  • Tighter customs control after customs clearance of goods;

  • Further development of customs integration in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

  Import restrictions

Certain imports to Russia require permission and certificates (e.g., of conformity, sanitation), licenses and other approvals. They should be submitted to the customs authorities for clearance. The Russian Federation imposes an anti-dumping duty on certain goods (i.e., metal pipes from Ukraine). 

Customs duties. Classification of goods 

The Russian tariff classification system is based on the internationally adopted Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System.

Valuation rules

The customs valuation procedure is established in line with GATT/ WTO principles and is generally equivalent to the DAF/Russian border transaction value of the goods concerned. 


Import duty applies to most goods. The majority of customs duty rates in Russia are ad valorem (i.e., a percentage of the goods’ customs value). There are also specific duties for certain types of imports, calculated by volume, weight or quantity. Some duties have a combined rate incorporating the above two types of duty and, therefore, the tax base may vary.

Base customs duty rates vary widely, from 100% on spirits to 0% for some printed matter and some other priority imports. Zero duty applies, for example, to a wide range of equipment and machinery. On average, duty rates fall between 5% and 20% of goods’ customs value. The base rates specified in the legislation apply to countries that have been granted Most Favored Nation status. Some goods from “developing” and “least developed” countries may be imported at 75% of the base rates or zero rates, respectively. However, these are limited to raw materials and handmade goods. Goods originating in other countries will be subject to duty at double the base rates.

The following are exempt from customs duty: transit goods; goods imported by individuals for personal use (worth not more than approximately USD 2,500 and weighing less than 35 kg); cultural valuables; means of transport involved in the international movement of goods and passengers; humanitarian aid and some others. 

Free trade agreements

Russia has adopted free trade agreements with countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Goods originating from CIS countries (e.g., Ukraine) are exempt from customs duty for import to Russia (subject to certain conditions). Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan form a Customs Union, and goods originating from these countries are not subject to customs duty within it.

Excise tax

Certain categories of goods are subject to excise tax for import to Russia (e.g., alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, cars, motorcycles with a capacity of over 150 horsepower, etc.). Generally, the excise tax rates are specific (i.e., the rates are based on the volume, weight or other characteristics of goods). 


Customs payments are generally paid before or when submitting customs declarations to customs.  

Documentation and procedures. Registration of importers and exporters

There is no established procedure for registering importers/exporters with customs. However, in practice certain documents may be required by customs prior to importation (charter documents, tax registration certificate, etc.).


Russian customs regulations establish a comprehensive list of documents required for customs clearance purposes. In practice, the set of documents to be submitted to the customs authorities may vary depending on the character of imported/exported commodities, conditions of the transaction, etc.

Declaration of the customs value

The customs value of imported goods is declared in a Declaration of the Customs Value. The customs value should be properly confirmed by the appropriate documents. The list of such documents may vary depending on the terms of a particular transaction. While the Russian customs regulations set a general list of documents required for confirmation of the customs value, the list is not exhaustive. If the customs authorities disagree with the customs value declared by an importer, they may adjust it.

If the customs authorities disagree with the customs value declared by an importer they may seek to negotiate with the importer an adjustment of the customs value. Should the importer refuse to adjust the customs value, the customs authorities may adjust the customs value themselves. 

Warehousing and storage

Goods which are subject to customs control (e.g., imported goods which have not yet cleared through customs) can be temporarily stored at special warehouses before they are released by customs. The period for storage should not exceed two months, but an importer can ask the customs authorities to extend it to up to four months.

Warehouses for temporary storage are usually located near customs offices. 


  1. What does the importer have to do to import goods into Russia?

  2. Are there some customs benefits for importation of goods into Russia?

  3. What is the Russian tariff classification system based on?

  4. How do base customs duties vary?

  5. What countries does Russia have free trade agreements with?

  6. What countries form Customs Union?

  7. What categories of goods are subject to excise tax for import to Russia?

  8. What is the procedure for registering importers in Russia?

  9. How can one declare the customs value of imported goods?

  10. What is warehousing?

Find the equivalents of the following words and expressions in the text:

таможенные льготы; таможенные процедуры; Содружество Независимых Государств; таможенное законодательство; необходимые таможенные платежи; соглашение о свободной торговле; таможенная стоимость; предмет таможенного досмотра; склад товаров; уплатить таможенные пошлины; особые экономические зоны; облагать пошлиной; соответствующий стоимости; базовый тариф.


Development of Customs Cooperation with International organizations

The aim of the Federal Customs Service cooperation with international organizations is to upgrade the Russian Customs Service, as well as promote its interests in the world customs community. One of the significant results of its activity at the World Customs Organization (WCO) is its becoming in 2007 member of Policy Commission of the WCO which is responsible for key decisions of the Organization. Russian Customs Service was acknowledged the best customs service in the world in 2008 at the 11th WCO Council session in terms of struggle against intellectual property rights offence. By 2008 the FCS provided joining of the Russian Federation the WCO recommendations:

  • On the necessity of development and strengthening of customs administrations position in the field of struggle against money structuring and legalization of income, gained by illegal means.

  • On transboundary ecological offence control.

Customs s International activity in 2009 will be aimed at further development of the Russian FCS cooperation with the WCO, providing its representatives participation in the work of the WCO. During 2008 the Russian FCS’s activity was aimed at the development and intensification of cooperation with the European Union. Russian FCS opens and develops customs relations with European customs administrations, communities, organizations, recognizing the importance of participation in the formation of collective economic and customs areas. Here another important question is the development of customs cooperation in harmonization and simplification of customs procedure, transit systems of Russian and the European Union compatibility, information sharing, customs infrastructure, consulting and staff training development. June 19, 2008, Moscow, the 8th Subcommittee Russia-EU meeting on customs and transboundary cooperation took place.

Three priority orientations on the solution of the current problem on the common frontier cooperation were agreed. They are:

  • facilitation of mutual trade through development and taking legal, administrative and practical measures on the Russia-EU border situation settlement;

  • realization of customs information sharing pilot project;

  • development of check points and customs infrastructure at the border between Russia and the EU.

Within multidirectional foreign policy of the Russian Federation Asia-Pacific region is of an increasing importance, which is connected with Russia being part of this fast developing world region, interested in using its possibilities while implementing programs of economic development of Siberia and the Far East, and also with the necessity of strengthening of regional cooperation. This defines priorities of the Russian FCS customs cooperation in this region on bilateral basis as well as through regional integrated structures of Asia-Pacific region: Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).


    1. What is the aim of the Federal Customs Service cooperation with international organizations?

    2. Why was the Russian Customs Service acknowledged the best customs service in the world?

    3. What recommendations did the World Customs Organization provide the Russian Customs Service with?

    4. What is the aim of Customs’ International activity in 2009?

    5. What is the aim of the development of customs cooperation between countries?

Find the equivalents of the following words and expressions in the text:

повысить качество работы Таможенной Службы России; легализация доходов; преступления против прав на интеллектуальную собственность; ключевые решения; контроль экономических правонарушений; таможенная территория; принятие административных мер; таможенная инфраструктура.


Passport information

Russian passport regulations greatly depend on governmental agreements and they are subject to change. The most reliable information could be found in Counsels department of Russian Ministry of foreign affairs or Russian Embassies.

Visa control is a subject of transport company duties. Passport control checks the allowance of a person to be on Russian territory and doesn’t carry responsibility for allowance to enter any other country.

Russian citizen cannot lose allowance to Russian boundaries. In case if one loses his/her documents outside Russia the person should ask any nearest Russian Embassy or Counsels department of Russia.

Validity: passports must be valid for the period of intended stay in Russia.

Visa requirements

Visa required for all foreign citizens, except for nationals of CIS countries, by exception of Georgia and Turkmenia. Official invitation required for issuing visa.

Additional information

1. Visas, excluding multiple, are valid for one trip only and should be used according it’s applicability. Visas and passports with expired date or bearing marks appeared unofficially are considered invalidate.

2. Passenger with tourist visas should have hotel reservation.

3. All foreigners should be registered in Ministry of Internal Affairs or hotels if stay longer than a 3 day period.

4. It’s strongly recommended to have health or tourist insurance, covering all medical expenses.

5. It’s strongly recommended to avoid doubtful registration firms using unofficial ways.

For all foreign citizens, except citizens of CIS countries (by exception of Georgia and Turkmenia), having flights from Belarus through Domodedovo airport to third countries, and/or flying from third countries through Domodedovo to Belarus.

Between Russia and Belarus there is no visa required. For citizens of no-CIS countries it causes Russian transit visa requirements if they fly from the territory of Belarus through Domodedovo airport to third countries (or from third countries through Domodedovo to Belarus). Russian transit visa can be obtained at any Russian Embassy having travel tickets and visa of destination country. Passengers without Russian visa will not be permitted to take connection flight. In such cases, transit visa can be obtained at Domodedovo consular before passport control point. The transit visa will be issued and you will be allowed to pass passport control.


1. Can Russian passport regulations be changed?

2. What does passport control check?

3. What should a person do if he loses his documents outside Russia?

4. Who needs visa to enter Russia?

5. What passports are considered invalidate?

6. In what case should foreigners be registered in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs?

Find the equivalents of the following words and expressions in the text:

визовый контроль; официальное приглашение; просроченная виза; недействительный паспорт; Российское Посольство; визовые требования; правительственные соглашения; иностранные граждане; сомнительные фирмы, организующие регистрацию иностранных граждан.


Consumer Protection Agencies and Organizations

Consumer Groups.

Many private organizations help consumers. National organizations such as the Consumer Federation of America and the Consumers Union educate consumers and lobby for passage of consumer protection legislation. Private state and local consumer groups may give advice, investigate complaints, contact sellers, try to arrange settlements, and make legal referrals. To find these organizations, contact a local university, your state attorney general’s office, or a member of your city council.

Business and Trade Associations.

One of the best known consumer help organizations is the Better Business Bureau (BBB). They are supported by private businesses, they are not governmental agencies. While BBBs have no law enforcement power, they do monitor business activity and try to promote high standards of business ethics. In many places the BBB investigates consumer complaints, contacts the company involved, and tries to mediate a settlement. Reasonable complaints can often be settled with the BBB’s help, but BBBs usually act only as mediators and do not force a business to settle.


Many local newspapers as well as radio and television stations have special “action line” or “consumer affairs” services that help consumers. Publicity is a powerful weapon, and many consumers find that they can settle problems simply by contacting, or even threatening to contact, the media. To use these services, check with your local newspaper, radio and television services.

Professional Associations.

Many business and professional people belong to associations that act on behalf of the entire profession or occupation. While such an association may have no legal enforcement powers over its members, a consumer complaint may result in pressure on, or dismissal of, the offending member. For example, if you have a complaint against an attorney, you can contact the American Bar Association or the bar association for your city or state.

State and Local Government.

All states and many local governments have consumer protection groups that deal with from regulating public utilities to making sure you get a fair deal when you have your car repaired. These groups are often located within the state attorney general’s office, consumer affairs bureau, consumer protection agency, public advocate’s office, or public utilities commission.


      1. What private organizations help consumers?

      2. What do Better Business Bureaus do? Are they government agencies? How do they promote high standards of business ethics?

      3. Do you agree that publicity is a powerful weapon? Give your examples.

      4. In what way can professional association help consumers?

      5. Are there any consumer protection agencies and organizations in Russia? What do you know about their activities?

Find the equivalents of the following words and expressions in the text:

защита потребителя, уладить проблему, расследовать жалобы, следить за деловой активностью, поддерживать высокие стандарты деловой этики, являться посредником, сильное оружие, действовать от имени, коммунальные услуги.


Kinds of Laws

Laws fall into two major groups: criminal and civil.

Criminal laws regulate public conduct and set out duties owed to society. A criminal case is a legal action brought by the government against a person charged with committing a crime. Criminal laws have penalties, and offenders are imprisoned, fined, placed under supervision, or punished in some other way. Criminal offences are divided into felonies and misdemeanors. The penalty for a felony is a term of more than one year in prison. For a misdemeanor, the penalty is a prison term of one year or less. Felonies are more serious crimes such as murder or robbery. Misdemeanors are less serious crimes such as simple assault or minor theft.

Civil laws regulate relations between individuals or groups of individuals. A civil action (lawsuit) can be brought by a person who feels wronged or injured by another person. Courts may award the injured person money for the loss, or they may order the person who committed the wrong to make amends in some other way. An example of a civil action is a lawsuit for recovery of damages suffered in an automobile accident. Civil laws regulate many everyday situations, such as marriage, divorce, contracts, real estate, insurance, consumer protection, and negligence.

Sometimes one action can violate both civil and criminal law. For example, if Joe beats up Bob, he may have to pay Bob’s medical bills under civil law and may be charged with the crime of assault under criminal law.


1. What two groups of laws do you know?

2. What is a criminal case?

3. How are criminal offenses divided?

4. What crimes are more serious?

5. What is the penalty for a felony? For a misdemeanor?

6. What do civil laws regulate?

Find the equivalents of the following words and expressions in the text:

уголовное право; гражданское право; совершать преступление; нарушитель; оштрафовать; поместить под наблюдение; уголовное преступление; судебно наказуемый поступок; убийство; грабеж; нападение; воровство; возмещать убытки; судебный процесс (тяжба).


Law and Moral

Laws generally reflect and promote a society’s values. Our legal system is influenced by our society’s traditional ideas of right and wrong. For example, laws against murder reflect the moral belief that killing another person is wrong. Most people would condemn murder regardless of what the law said. However, not everything that is immoral is also illegal. For example, lying to a friend may be immoral but is seldom illegal.

We expect our legal system to achieve many goals. These include: protecting human rights, promoting fairness, helping resolve conflicts, promoting order and stability, protecting the environment, representing the will of the majority, protecting the rights of minorities.

Many of society’s most difficult problems involve conflicts among these goals. For example, of trying to make up for past discrimination, some laws give preference to minorities over whites or to women over men. Laws must balance rights with responsibilities, the will of the majority with the rights of the minority, the need for order with the need for basic freedom. Reasonable people sometimes disagree over how the law can protect the rights of some without violating the rights of others.

Laws can be based on moral, economic, political or social values. As values change, so can laws. Moral values deal with fundamental questions of right and wrong. For example, laws against killing promote society’s primary moral value – the protection of life. However, as already noted, some things that are considered immoral may not violate the law. In limited circumstances, such as in self-defense or during the time of war, even an intentional killing may be legal.

Economic values deal with the accumulation, preservation, use and distribution of wealth. Many laws promote economic values by encouraging certain economic decisions and discouraging others. The law encourages home ownership by giving tax benefits to people who borrow money to pay for a home, for example. Laws against shoplifting protect property and discourage stealing by providing a criminal penalty.

Political values reflect the relationship between government and individuals. Laws making it easier to vote promote citizen participation in the political process, a basic American political value.

Social values concern issues that are important to society. For example, it is an American social value that all students are provided with free public education through high school. Consequently, all states have laws providing such education. Like other values, social values can change. In the past, for example, society believed that school sports were not so important for girls as for boys. This value has changed. Today laws require schools to provide females with sports opportunities similar to those offered to males.

Many laws combine moral, economic, political and social values. For example, laws against theft deal with the moral issue of stealing, the economic issue of protection of property, the political issue of how government punishes those who violate criminal statutes, and the social issue of respecting the property of others.


1. What do laws reflect and promote?

2. What influences our legal system? How?

3. Think about your own examples of what is immoral but not illegal. Try to find the examples of something illegal but not immoral.

4. What morals do we expect our legal system to achieve?

5. Why can laws change when values do?

6. What do economic values deal with?

7. How can laws promote economic values?

8. How does the law promote people to buy homes?

Find the equivalents of the following words and expressions in the text:

отражать и обеспечивать ценности общества; осуждать убийство; незаконный; защищать права человека; разрешить конфликт; обеспечить порядок и стабильность; защищать окружающую среду; большинство/меньшинство; отдавать предпочтение; сбалансировать права и обязанности; нарушать права; защита жизни; при определенных обстоятельствах; самооборона; льготы по налогообложению; участие; бесплатное государственное образование.


A brief history of the Russian Customs Service

Russia’s Customs Service is intertwined with the history of the Russian state. Over the centuries some of the leading figures of the country have protected its economic interests. Institutions which have benefited from the revenue generated by customs duties were: the Army, the Economy, the Health Service, Education and other improvements to the State. It is well known that many great architectural monuments were financed from money derived from taxes levied by the Customs. The Russian Customs Service has always targeted smuggling. The trafficking of contraband was not the only thing to be prevented by the Customs. Among other things which were targeted by the Moscow Customs Department were the following: heretical books, other items of a religious nature and playing cards, all of which could be harmful to the people of Russia. In the XVth and XVIIth centuries visiting foreigners were often found to be smuggling out of Russia secret maps of its territories and its fortresses. Even Russian Tsars and Emperors were subject to the rules of the Customs Authorities. The very colors of the Russian Customs flag symbolize honor, dignity, and the honesty and fairness of Russian Customs officers.      

In the Xth and XIIth centuries the Customs began as revenue collected by the so – called Mytnic Brigades, who were responsible for the trading and transit of Myto Duties. At the end of the XIIIth century and at the beginning of the XIVth century the Mytnic Brigades were superseded by Tamgachey collectors of the Mongolian Khan Horde who collected the so-called Tamgha Duty.       The Tamgha Duty proved to be one of the most profitable fees collected and was calculated according to a commodity’s value. Ever since that time, this fee has come to be known as a customs duty and its place of collection – a customs office.      

Revenue collection was entrusted to the Russian Principalities and by the XIVth century the right to collect the duties and be customs officials could be inherited in some towns, villages and small administrative settlements, the volosty.      

From the XVIth to the XVIIth century customs officers and their aids, the tselovalniky had to swear an oath to the Tsar and kiss an icon on taking up office.

The Trading Charter adopted on the 25th October 1653 and the Novotorgovy (New Package) Trading Act, dating  back to 1667, seem to be the basic customs legislative documents ever to have been agreed upon in Russia. The Prikas (the Central State Department) was in charge of the collection of revenue in the XVIIth century. Local authorities known as golovi and voevodi used to be responsible for the collection of customs duties and fees. Part time members of staff were called diyaki and podiyachie. Customs officials who collected a very larger number of fees were given a variety of rewards: bonus cups, ladles or dippers, goblets, bolts of expensive cloth and bundles of valuable furs (forty sables).       A particular honour was an invitation to the Tsar’s festive dinner.
  Peter the Great pioneered the modernization of the Russian Customs Service, especially, in the organization of its personnel. In 1699, the post of Burmistr (The Head of the Customs Service) was adopted.

Since 1720 the major customs houses were called Senior Customs Observers or Inspectors. New appointments were made such as: comptrollers, collectors and a variety of customs dealers. The Russian State took over customs stations in August 1762. The control of the customs offices was entrusted to the Customs Collection Office in 1763. Since 1781, the management of the customs has been under the jurisdiction of the Customs Expeditions (State Bodies) and the General Governors.

The Customs system was increasingly developing its infrastructure. The reforms adopted between 1753 and 1757 greatly contributed to the core restructuring of the Russian Customs Service. In November 1796 the Kommerts-Kollegia (the Major Russian Customs Office) was given absolute power to control the collection of revenues. Since 1880, the minister of Kommerts – Kollegia gained complete control of and became the head of all the Customs houses in Russia.

In accordance with the Manifesto the Russian Empress Elizabeth, signed on the 20th December 1753, domestic customs houses were abolished along with 17 internal trade and transit duties. Inward and outward commodity transactions were levied with an additional 13% duty in Russian currency.

Since 1811, the Customs Division in the Foreign Trade Department of the Ministry of Finance has been responsible for the management of all customs stations. In 1864 the Customs Division was renamed the Customs Revenue Collection Department of the Ministry of Finance.      

In April 1918 the basic organization of the customs was fixed by the Sovnarkom Decree of the Government Regulation of Foreign Trade. The main focus was on the Governmental control of foreign trade and smuggling. In December 1921 a Customs Department which was responsible for state control over the customs stations was established as part of the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Trade. From 1946 to 1986 it was under the control of the Ministry of Foreign Trade of the USSR. Later the Main Customs Department became the State Customs Directorate under the auspices of the Council of Ministers of the USSR. The new benchmark is dated 1991, when the State Customs committee was founded.

In 2004 the Federal Customs Service succeeded the State Customs Committee.


1. What was the main aim of creating the Russian Customs Service?

2. What did foreigners try to smuggle out of Russia in the XV – XVII centuries?

3. What do colors of the Russian Customs Service flag symbolize?

4. What were Mytnic Brigades?

5. What were the Trading Charter and the Novotorgovy Trading Act?

6. What kinds of rewards could customs officials get for their good job in the XVII century?

7. Who started the modernization of the Russian Customs Service?

8. What changes did he make?

9. How did the work of the Russian Customs Service change in the XVIII – XIX centuries?

Find the equivalents of the following words and expressions in the text:

провозить контрабандой; бороться против; таможенные сборы; редчайший предмет материальной культуры; ковш, черпак; кубок, бокал; особая честь; внутренние отделения таможни; торговые сделки внутри страны/за ее пределами; облагать налогом; при поддержке Совета Министров; новый уровень; Государственный Таможенный Комитет; стоимость товара.

TEXT 10.

Red and Green Channels

Customs procedures for arriving passengers at many international airports, and some road crossings, are separated into Red and Green Channels. Passengers with goods to declare (carrying items above the permitted customs limits and/or carrying prohibited items) should go through the Red Channel. Passengers with nothing to declare (carrying goods within the customs limits only and not carrying prohibited items) can go through the Green Channel. Passengers going through the Green Channel are only subject to spot checks and save time. But, if a passenger going through the Green Channel is found to have goods above the customs limits on them or carrying prohibited items, they may be prosecuted for making a false declaration to customs, by virtue of having gone through the Green Channel.

Canada and the United States do not operate a red and green channel system.

Airports within the EU also have a Blue Channel. As the EU is a customs union, travelers between EU countries do not have to pay customs duties. VAT (value added tax) and Excise duties may be applicable if the goods are subsequently sold, but these are collected when the goods are sold, not at the border. Passengers arriving from other EU countries should go through the Blue Channel, where they may still be subject to checks for prohibited or restricted goods. In addition, limitations exist on various tobacco products being imported from certain newly-joined EU member states and use of the Blue Channel if those limitations are being exceeded would be inappropriate. Luggage tickets for checked in luggage within the EU are green-edged so they may be identified. UK policy is that entry into a particular Channel constitutes a legal declaration.


1. What is the difference between the Red and the Green Channels?

2. What countries don’t use a red and green channel system?

3. What is Blue Channel?

4. Where is it used?

5. When would the use of the Blue Channel be inappropriate?

Find the equivalents of the following words and expressions in the text:

зеленый сектор; красный сектор; быстрая проверка; декларируемое имущество; в пределах таможенных ограничений; запрещенные к провозу предметы; подвергаться преследованию в судебном порядке; неверная декларация; акцизный сбор; быть предметом проверки; налог на добавленную стоимость.


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