Navigating Russian Customs Regulations

Traveling to Russia to meet Russian women means you will need to know a little about Russian customs regulations. For those not familiar with international travel, the basic idea behind "Customs" is that countries want to tax anything imported or exported (including cash).

You can take cash and other things of value into a country as long as you take those same things (no more, no less) back out. To prove what you brought into a country, you "declare" it upon entry. Then upon exiting they will expect to see those same things (if they don't, they will assume you sold them for profit and tax you).

Every country's customs laws are different, and most are fairly complicated. And by the way, if you travel to Russia from the U.S., you also need to deal with U.S. Customs. But fortunately there is a way to make entering and exiting any country simple and painless: Take only your ESSENTIALS!

If you only carry your essentials across the border (both in and out)... clothing, shoes, toiletries, medicines (properly labeled and only in reasonable quantities for one person), cell phone, laptop, camera, etc., and less than $3000 in cash, you can go through the "Green Line" of most customs areas at international entry points. The "Green Line" is the line where you go if you have nothing to "declare".

You can sneak other things in and out of Russia (or other countries) undeclared using the "Green Line" and never be stopped or questioned by Russian customs officers. So you COULD bring your sweetie a new iPhone or laptop computer, and you could return with caviar that you bought there as gifts for your family and friends back home, etc.

BUT if you do that, you are playing with fire. People going through "Green Lines" are randomly stopped and questioned about what they are bringing. And Russian customs officials DO have the right and authority to search your bags without cause. And if they find that you are carrying something that needed to be declared, at the very least you will be sent to the "Red Line" where you will be taxed at an amount of 30% of the value of your items (the value that THEY ESTIMATE). And worse, if you attempted to bring something in or out that was prohibited, you could conceivably do some prison time!

Personally I advise that you play it safe. Buy whatever gifts you want to bring after you are already there, and just take lots of pictures in place of souvenirs!

IF you really want to know the intricate details of the customs laws of a country (including the U.S.), that information is available online (just do an internet search for "Russian customs regulations"), or you can visit the following sites that I found:

Russia:

Ukraine:

U.S.:



Of these three, Ukraine is the easiest "on paper", and their official statement matches what you actually experience in the customs areas at the airport. Russia's regulations are much more complicated, and sometimes a little scary. For instance, the travel.state.gov site explains that laptops do not need to be declared, but their hard drives may be inspected upon exiting the country, and if any "encrypted" data is found on it, it can be confiscated. It also says that Russia is very strict regarding certain kinds of prescription drugs.

But good news is that according to U.S. citizens who frequently travel in and out of Russia report that NONE of this laptop scanning actually happens, and they never scrutinize your prescriptions.