European Commission Prohibits Entry into EU Countries Using Russian-Registered Vehicles and Raises Concerns over Personal Belongings

The European Commission has made a significant announcement regarding the entry of Russian-registered vehicles into European Union (EU) countries, clarifying that such entry is strictly prohibited under sanctions legislation against Russia. Additionally, personal belongings, including smartphones, jewelry, and laptops, carried by Russians crossing the border into EU nations are now subject to potential risk.

The Commission’s interpretation of the sanctions legislation leaves no room for ambiguity: the entry into EU countries using passenger cars registered in Russia, whether for private or commercial purposes, is considered a form of prohibited importation. This prohibition extends to all vehicles falling under the customs codes specified in Annex XXI of the sanctions legislation, most notably code 8703, which encompasses passenger cars and other vehicles designed to transport fewer than ten people. Vehicles bearing Russian license plates and registered in Russia are particularly vulnerable to being categorized as “exported” from Russia, making their entry into EU countries legally problematic.

This clarification from the European Commission comes in response to previous incidents where Russian travelers faced apprehensions at EU customs, particularly in Germany. In July of the preceding year, German customs authorities confirmed that the importation of passenger cars from Russia is strictly prohibited under Article 3i of Regulation 833/2014, which outlines the embargo against Russia. This prohibition extends to any movement of goods, even if it is intended for personal, non-commercial use.

This strict interpretation of the sanctions legislation raised concerns among legal experts, with questions arising about whether these incidents resulted from misinterpretations of German customs legislation or potential misuse by government officials. The ambiguity surrounding this issue led to uncertainty among travelers and diplomatic circles.

Recently, on September 4th, the Russian embassy in Germany reported that isolated cases of German customs officials seizing cars registered in Russia and temporarily imported for personal use or transit continued. The embassy’s claims highlighted that arguments emphasizing the legal basis for the temporary importation of personal property were not being taken into consideration.

The European Commission has emphasized that the duration of the car’s presence in an EU country and the customs procedure used, whether involving release into free circulation or temporary importation, are irrelevant factors in determining the legality of entry. This stringent stance underscores the EU’s commitment to upholding sanctions against Russia and ensuring compliance with the letter of the law. Russian travelers and businesses operating in the EU should be vigilant about these regulations to avoid potential legal consequences.

Article by Prague Forum

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