Russian owners of cars with Armenian license plates have found themselves in an almost hopeless situation. In the regions, the traffic police fines their vehicles or even sends them to special parking lots. The reason is the lack of documents from customs, but it is not easy to legalize such a car. This will at least require the payment of an amount in excess of its original cost. Meanwhile, lawyers argue that the law allows you to freely drive cars with Armenian numbers. Izvestia was dealing with a complex and confusing situation.
At the end of 2019, Alexey, a resident of the city of Engels, Saratov Region, like many Russian citizens, went to Armenia for a car. In 2014, this country signed an agreement on accession to the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), but postponed the transition to uniform customs tariffs until 2020. In addition, in December 2017, the Council of the Eurasian Economic Commission exempted goods imported into the Union for personal use from customs duties.
Table Of Contents
No costs and cameras
A loophole appeared in the legislation: a Russian citizen could buy a car in Armenia – the prices there were much lower and favorable customs tariffs were still in force – and calmly drive home through the green corridor.
“I, like many others, wrote an appeal to the Customs Service and the traffic police before the trip in order to be safe and understand whether such a purchase is legal and whether I can operate the car without problems. The answers were all as one: a vehicle registered in a state within the EAEU is not subject to declaration and moves freely across the territory. Without registration of temporary import, without filing a declaration, ”Alexey told Izvestia.
Photo: Izvestia / Dmitry Korotaev
As a result, in 2018-2020, about 300 thousand cars with Armenian numbers were imported to Russia. This way of acquiring vehicles was appreciated by those who planned to purchase a car with a large engine, and who asked the price for a rare youngtimer, and, finally, those who had more than a modest amount on hand.
There were also those who liked to drive fast and did not like to receive fines. The owner of a car with Armenian license plates had just such immunity: the cameras recorded the violation, but to whom should the decree be sent? The Russian and Armenian departments did not have a common base. By the way, this elusiveness of cars with foreign numbers will lead to serious consequences in the future.
Through the green corridor
Initially, Alexey wanted to buy a car at an American insurance auction, deliver it to Georgia, and then drive it to Armenia on his own and clear it through customs. However, time was running out, and he chose a less profitable option – a car already imported to Georgia from the United States, namely a hybrid Hyundai Sonata.
In terms of rubles, Alexey paid 420 thousand for the car, another 85 thousand were spent on customs clearance in the Armenian city of Vanadzor. For comparison, in order to import a car with a 2.4 liter engine to Russia, he would have to pay a fee of 900 thousand rubles. Therefore, even the most unprofitable option – to buy a customs-cleared car directly in Armenia – still looked attractive: the locals added only a couple of thousand dollars to the price of the car.
Photo: Izvestia / Dmitry Korotaev
Russian buyers were not embarrassed by the fact that a car can only be sold at the place of registration, that is, in Armenia. In addition, they hoped that in 2023, their vehicles could be legalized as “EAEU goods” after paying a recycling fee.
Alexey put the car on the register for temporary registration in Armenia, received the documents in Armenian and screwed the numbers and calmly left through the green corridor. At the customs, he met a lot of trucks going to Russia – the dealers planned to sell cars with Armenian numbers by proxy, even though it was illegal. But even those who traveled by proxy had no problems for the time being.
In June last year, at a meeting of the State Council, Vladimir Putin instructed the government, by February 1, 2020, “to take measures to ensure the inevitability of punishment for foreign citizens and foreign carriers.”
The situation with violations was really serious, over the past year and a half, cars with foreign numbers (Ukrainian, Armenian, Moldovan, etc.) in Moscow alone committed almost 2 million violations, but less than 30 thousand of them managed to write out resolutions.
Photo: Izvestia / Pavel Bednyakov
Earlier, the traffic police planned to create a database of cars with foreign numbers together with the Federal Customs Service, but the data was not enough. Now the State traffic inspectorate is considering the possibility of taking information from insurers, from AIS OSAGO, especially since an automatic check of policies using cameras is being prepared. In the meantime, the capture of cars with foreign numbers is done manually.
No documents? To the special parking lot
In the summer, cars with Armenian numbers were under special control. According to the internal recommendations of Mikhail Chernikov, Head of the State Traffic Safety Inspectorate (a copy is in the editorial office), citizens of the Russian Federation can operate cars with Armenian numbers imported after October 2014, only “if there are appropriate customs documents.”
If there are no documents, and no one has them, Article 12.3 will be applied to the violator. Administrative Code “Driving a vehicle by a driver who does not have the documents provided for by the Traffic Rules”. The violator will have to pay a fine of 500 rubles, and the car will be placed in a special parking lot.
Photo: RIA Novosti / Mikhail Voskresensky
In some cases, Russian owners of cars with foreign numbers are threatened by Article 12.1 of the Administrative Code “Driving a vehicle that is not registered in the prescribed manner, a vehicle that has not passed a state technical inspection or technical inspection.”
This mainly applies to cars registered in other EAEU countries and cars registered in Armenia before October 2014. The punishment for this is a fine of 500-800 rubles, but in case of a repeated violation, the car owner will pay 5 thousand rubles and may lose his license for three months.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs is guided, firstly, by the Convention on Road Traffic and claims that a Russian citizen driving a car registered in one of the EAEU countries cannot be considered a participant in international traffic. And, therefore, must register the car. Secondly, the department refers to the Treaty on Armenia’s accession to the EAEU.
“According to the provisions of the Agreement, these vehicles have the status of a foreign car, since during the specified period the Republic of Armenia did not apply the“ all-union ”rates of customs duties, and the payments in force in the territory of the Republic of Armenia are much lower than the“ all-Union ”ones,” the presenter explained to Izvestia Lawyer of the European Legal Service Svetlana Goldenkova. The car will cease to be “foreign” only after customs declaration and additional taxes and duties.
Customs does not give the go-ahead
“Persecution” of cars with Armenian numbers differs from region to region, say unlucky car owners. For example, in the Volgorad and Rostov regions, they are simply stopped by inspectors and photographed documents in order to link the car and the owner.
At first glance, we can say that the car owners got off easily, but in Kurgan these documents were transferred to the customs service. She turned to Armenia and received a reply that the car had been cleared for internal use. As a result, the customs officers sent a request to the traffic police to search for and detain the vehicle.
Photo: Izvestia / Pavel Bednyakov
In this case, the car is placed in a temporary storage parking lot and the owner has 30 days to take the car out of Russia or pay the difference in customs payments. If he does not do this, the car will be transferred to the Federal Property Management Agency for sale at auction.
However, when the owners of the cars arrested in Kurgan agreed to re-export – they did not want to pay the difference in duties – it turned out that the customs office could not register the cars. Moreover, those who sent a request to the Customs Service to issue a temporary import received replies that this was not possible due to non-compliance with procedural issues, says legal adviser Sergei Frolov.
The fact is that cars with Armenian numbers were imported into the territory of Russia for personal purposes and according to the “release for free circulation” procedure. The EAEU Customs Code does not provide for the declaration and registration of temporary import for them.
“The agreement on the creation of the EAEU states: goods move freely within the union. This is exactly what the Union was created for. In the aggregate, the absence of customs payments and the release for free circulation make these cars a commodity of the Union. However, the agreement on Armenia’s accession says the opposite, and it contradicts what is written in the Customs Code. In this regard, there is an explanation of the Plenum of the Supreme Court: if there is a contradiction between two such acts, then in view of the greater legal force of the Customs Code, it is he who is applied“, – said Frolov.
Photo: RIA Novosti / Kirill Kallinikov
The ambiguity of the situation is also illustrated by the response of the Federal Customs Service of July 20. On the one hand, it follows that there is no need to issue a temporary import for cars driven by Russian citizens from Armenia. Vehicles registered in a country that is a member of the EAEU can move freely through the territory of the Union.
At the same time, the FCS also cites the Agreement on the accession of the Republic of Armenia to the EAEU, which calls these cars a foreign product.
From the new answer of the North Ossetian customs on August 5, it follows that back in 2018, the confusing issue of vehicles for personal use registered in Armenia was asked to be resolved by the Consulting Center of the Federal Customs Service of Russia. There, they also came to the conclusion that such cars are not subject to either declaration or customs control during temporary import. It is interesting that the period of temporary import for this category is not regulated in any way by the customs legislation of the EAEU.
What should car owners do now?
“Initially, it was clear that the scheme was not entirely clean. Citizens bought cars with a minimum customs duty and, moreover, drive as they want. If we pay taxes and fines, why shouldn’t the rest of us pay? ” – asks the editor-in-chief of “Za Rulem” Maxim Kadakov.
Wanting to save money, Russian car owners found themselves in a very difficult situation. Now they are unlikely to find buyers for the car, and it is impossible to go to Armenia now due to quarantine. The surcharge of the difference in customs payments for some cars, due to their age and large engines, will be significant, two prices for a car, or even more. However, it is not so easy to obtain a PTS, and it is not in accordance with Euro-4 and Euro-5 standards and the obligatory ERA-GLONASS – in Primorye, for example, the moratorium on its installation was extended. Some of the cars imported from Armenia are right-hand drive, but with the steering wheel thrown over to the left. It is hardly possible at all to put them on the Russian register.
Photo: Izvestia / Konstantin Kokoshkin
A separate category is cars registered before Armenia’s accession to the EAEU. For them you will have to pay only the recycling fee.
Some owners plan to put the car in the garage until 2023 or sell it in parts, but if the vehicle somehow came to the attention of the traffic police, then the Customs Service can easily find its owner and require an additional fee.
The only way out is to contact lawyers, but there is no guarantee here either. For example, the Krasnoyarsk State Traffic Safety Inspectorate canceled the ruling under Article 12.1. The owner of the car with Armenian numbers called for a lawyer for help, and he proved that there are irrevocable doubts about the guilt of the involved motorist. In the city of Yemanzhelinsk, Chelyabinsk region, the court, on the contrary, upheld the decision of the traffic police.
Sergei Frolov believes that only the Supreme Court can resolve the situation. In addition, a group of car owners with Armenian numbers have already written a collective letter to President Vladimir Putin asking him to sort out the situation.