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7 Tips for Shipping to Russia

May 22, 2013

Shipping to russia

Our last post on shipping to Russia generated a lot of interest and feedback from readers. Recently there’s been more news about the latest shipping situation as Russia struggles with keeping up with about 500 tons of undelivered mail and packages sitting, waiting to get through customs at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow. In fact, it’s gotten so swamped that they declared an embargo on inbound international mail in early April.

We’ve heard stories about 2-3 month delays, missing packages, chargebacks, unhappy cancellations, and folks in Russia joking about bribing their local postal workers just to get their items released.
Here are some stats from Shipsurance for shipments to Russia for 10/1/2012-4/1/2013:

  • There is a 205% increase in the amount of lost claims from the same time period last year
  • During this time period, the dollar amount of lost claims increased by 220%
  • Insured shipping volume has only increased by 33%
  • 98% of reported problems are lost packages while 2% are damaged packages
  • 88% of these shipments were sent via First Class Mail

As merchants who want to provide goods to wherever your customers are, this can create a big headache. Obviously, you want to avoid getting bad reviews due to circumstances that are out of your control. It may take some magic powers to get through this hassle free, but we want to help make it a bit easier if you choose to continue selling to your Russian customer base.

Here are 7 tips to keep in mind when shipping goods to customers in Russia:

  1. Ship via registered mail and always opt in for tracking information services (not just delivery confirmation). Insurance is a good idea too!

  3. Request a business/corporate address when shipping to individuals, if available.

  5. Fill out the appropriate customs forms.
    • For dutiable DHL shipments, here are some customs guidelines. According to DHL’s documents, non commercial shipments with a Customs Value (i.e. Goods Value + transport) over US$ 1,000.00 are treated by Customs as commercial shipments.
    • USPS online customs form generator. The common consensus from our readers’ comments is not to use USPS First Class Mail — they’ve had numerous bad experiences and recommend at least Priority Mail service plus tracking.

  7. Keep in mind maximum declared value and dutiable costs, but be honest. This article breaks down the allowed monthly limits by type of parcel and percentage of duty and taxes charged thereafter. Depending on whether the recipient is a private individual or legal entity, the customs benefits will range from 200-1000 Euros.

  9. Announce reasonable delivery times on your website. If you list estimated shipping times, it’s better to be generous with your estimations so customers don’t feel duped, start complaining or asking for chargebacks if they don’t receive their items by your stated terms. The reality is closer to anywhere between 4-6 weeks.

  11. Always fill out CP72 form (CP72/2976A Customs Declaration Dispatch Note) neatly, especially Total Value and Insured Value lines. You can utilize the USPS Online Customs Form tool.

  13. Understand what is or isn’t allowed to be shipped to Russia. Here’s a list of prohibited items as declared by the Russian Post.

  15. Bonus:Automate what you can. Shipwire takes care of customs paperwork for international shipments for you, but in order to make it a smooth process, make sure that the values in your Shipwire account are accurate. You also have the option of attaching your own paperwork if you wish, instead of using the ones Shipwire prepares for you.


Wherever you choose to expand your customer base, Shipwire will be here to make shipping one less headache to worry about. Did we miss any key items or tips? Share your expertise and experience in the comments below.

Dimitri Onistsuk

Dimitri Onistsuk is the marketing director at Shipwire, and is in charge of figuring out what knobs to turn in order to spread the word about the leader in order fulfillment. During his years working in ecommerce, shipping, and fulfillment, he has helped countless merchants sell stuff to their global customers.