Lithuanian customs tighten controls for the export of sanctioned goods to third countries
2023 / 05 / 24

In response to the atypical increase in trade with third countries and possible circumvention of sanctions, Lithuanian customs authorities tighten controls. With effect from 5 June of this year, new requirements shall enter into force for the export of authorised goods to third countries in transit through Russia or Belarus. In practice, this will mean that EU carriers cannot fulfil the conditions for transporting these goods.

Customs statistics record certain parallel imports, showing sanctioned export goods are transported to third countries, such as Kazakhstan, and Armenia through Russia or Belarus and in fact, remains there.

Amendments make the transit of sanctioned goods impossible

According to the President of the Customs Association of Practitioners, and AVERUS partner Jonas Sakalauskas, the regulation have now been tightened up to a very high degree.

“The new regime introduces a number of additional requirements to ensure the sanctions imposed on Russia due to the invasion of Ukraine. One of them is that goods in transit must be transported to their destination in a third country by the same carrier, which is practically impossible, as Russia imposes a requirement that the goods must be transferred to the local carrier in the country,” J. Sakalauskas said.

As of Monday 5 June 2023, these requirements will come into force, based on the latest clarifications by the European Commission. 

'In addition to the prohibition on exports of listed goods, there are prohibitions on the transport of goods and on the provision of customs clearance services in connection with their declaration. Hauliers are no longer allowed to carry out partial transport, transfer goods, for example in Belarus, for further transport or to transfer trailers,” said Mr Sakalauskas.

As underlined by the Customs Department, when sanctioned goods are moved to third countries through Russian or Belarusian territory, there risk of those goods remaining in their territory during the transit must be thoughtfully considered.

Relevant for logistics, customs brokerage and carrier business

This will affect logistics, customs brokers, and carriers, as reliable evidence will be required that goods are actually in transit and will not remain in Russia or Belarus.

When the goods are exported, they will be requested to submit contracts for the purchase and sale of the goods, invoices, payment documents for the goods and the obligation of the owner of the goods not to sell them to other persons. In addition, after the departure of the goods, the business will be required to provide the customs authorities with a copy of the third-country import declaration. In order to justify transit, customs may require payment documents to the final destination in the third country.

Documentary evidence of the characteristics and technical qualities of the exported goods will have to be provided in order to determine whether the goods are properly classified and are not dual-use goods (used in both military and civil industries).

“The requirements are very high. Normally, the exporter is not in a position to provide such guarantees. On the other hand, this is mainly targeted at exporters and logistics players that circumvent sanctions. Honest business operators will incur additional costs and will be obliged to negotiate with their customers the documentation they need,” J. Sakalauskas said.

In the absence of the necessary evidence or in the event of a delay in submitting it to the customs, the goods will not be released from the European Union or longer-term verification of the circumstances of their carriage may result in undesirable vehicle downtime.

Non-compliance is subject to high fines or confiscation

Infringement of those provisions constitutes an infringement of international sanctions and brings liability to both natural and legal persons. Possible sanctions include financial penalties, which may amount to EUR 50 thousand or more, a fine of up to 5% of the legal person's annual income, as well as confiscation of goods, tools, instruments or funds related to the offence activity.


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