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Border crossing to Russia


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I'm going on a tour to Russia, and I was wondering if anyone has any experience or information on if I need any particular documents to enter and leave the country with my equipment.


I just have my personal FOH rack with preamps and FX, but I've had two different opinions from two different people:

One says that I need an ATA book, that they stamp on entering the country, and then check when you leave, to make sure you haven't sold or bought anything in the country.

The other one says that it's fine in this day and age, and as long as I don't have anything particularly noticable (like 10 camcorders or something like that...) I should be fine..


Any advice???


I would really like to avoid leaving my cherished rack with customs for 2 weeks, or to be confronted with them saying that it can't leave the country on my way back home...


I appreciate any advice, cheers;..

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Since 2000, Russia has been a signatory to the ATA Carnet system and even before that many customs officials expected to see a carnet even though it wasn't officially recognised there.




I must admit that when I've taken gear to Russia it's always been in larger quantities than you're talking about and always with a carnet.




I'd say the carnet is the only "official" way to do it; trying to blag your way through is going to rely on your own "gift of the gab" and you luck in finding a sympathetic (or lazy) customs official.





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You don't mention whether you're travelling by air or overland, by air customs restrictions seem to be slightly less rigid but overland you can get the sticklers for parerwork.


On a recent trip (November), it was no problem getting trucks of equipment in and out with the appropriate ATA carnet, however getting personnel through (both in and out) was time consuming and frustrating, despite everyone having the appropriate documents and visa's.


I would recommend you get every bit of paper possible and a full canet and be prepared to be seriously delayed.


Hopefully it all go smoothly and you'll prove me wrong though ;)



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I would strongly recommend a carnet. Pre 2000 you could just about get away with a typed manifest and declaring items on a baggage form.

I have just come back from doing a show in St Petersburg and it took 3 hours to get through customs. Nobody spoke any English, fortunately we were met by a promoter's rep who met us in the customs hall.

We presented our carnet only to be met with blank looks (apparently it was only the 2nd carnet they had seen in a year ;) ).

Then the fun began; they demanded the item list to be written in Russian.

Why didn't the 'set of microphones' have serial numbers?

Exactly how many cables are there and what are they connected to?

What type of tools do you have and what are they used for?


Basically they didn't have a clue. It is at this point that you must remain calm and not start shouting about their utter incompetence like our singer did and was threatened with arrest if he didn't shut up. That's three days locked up before they give you access to the British Consul!


Don't offer them dollars as a bribe.


With patience and a Russian speaker we got through, in fact we all cheered when they got the stamp out!


The trouble is the luck of the draw I suppose and where you fly in and out of.


By the way, if you happen to be going to the Ukraine, you don't need a visa or carnet but don't forget to get the carnet stamped when you come back to the UK!


Hope this helps :)

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In the early 80s, one of my colleagues was attending a scientific conference in (the "old") russia. To add to the adventure, he decided to fly to Germany, then do the rest of the journey by train.


He was carrying various pieces of hi-tech scientific equipment, very valuable, and potentially of military significance.


He had been advised by various "people who knew" to take various items to "ease the passage" through customs, to grease the palms of the various officials. Everyone had said that the item which was most likely to get him through without hassle was American jeans.


So, loaded up with Levis, he got the train from Germany to Lithuania.


Apparently they weren't interested in the Levis. The "hard currency" that they were looking for was either US dollars, Scotch whisky, or western porn magazines. He came home with lots of Levis..


But that was over 20 years ago.



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Thanks a lot for all your advice,.

By the way, I'm flying.. Sorry I didn't point that out.


Well, it looks like I'll be getting a ATA Carnet then, I think it's probably best to just be totally covered, even if it never comes to use, "better safe than sorry" I suppose...



Cheers for the pointers. ;) :)

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As a further suggestion I'd suggest making sure everything has a serial number corresponding to the carnet, adding them if needed - it'll make life easier. Also make sure you get the carnet stamped going in, if not you'll get hammered on your way out...
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