Thursday, August 2, 2012

TOP-10 Novelties of Customs Code of Ukraine

Ukraine’s Customs Code of 11 July 2002 never saw its tenth anniversary: on 1 June  2012, a new Customs Code adopted on 13 March 2012 took effect in Ukraine.

First of all, the new Customs Code contains a number of changes and novelties regarding regulation of customs relations. Below is a brief description of the ten most important of them.

1. Cancellation of "serfdom" (s. 247 (3))

The new Customs Code has cancelled the obligation to perform customs clearance of goods in the place of accreditation at customs office only. Applicants can now undergo customs clearance at any customs authority.

2. Authorized economic operators (ss. 12-18)

Applicants who have a good history of relations with customs authorities and meet the criteria specified in the Customs Code can gain the status of an authorized economic operator.

The authorized economic operator status gives an applicant the right to use special simplifications in customs procedures such as: the right to priority customs clearance or reduction of the amount of data to be submitted to a customs authority before the arrival of goods to the customs territory of Ukraine.

3. The exhaustive list of documents to be required by the customs authorities in respect of customs value (s. 53)

The new Customs Code has provided (ii) a list of documents to be submitted by applicants to confirm the customs value, as well as (ii) a list of documents that can be required from applicants by the customs authorities if there are doubts about the accuracy in identifying the customs value.

The Customs Code contains an express provision according to which customs authorities are forbidden to demand from applicants any other documents than those specified in the said lists.

In light of the recent practice, according to which customs authorities demanded applicants to submit calculations of the price of goods to confirm the customs value, it is noteworthy that the Customs Code gives customs authorities the right to do so only in the event of transactions involving related persons.

4. Reduction of the customs clearance time to 4 hours (s. 255)

The new Customs Code has reduced the customs clearance time from twenty-four hours to 4 working hours.

5. Electronic declaration (s. 257)

This is the first time that the possibility of electronic declaration using an electronic digital signature has been provided on the Customs Code level. It has been established that a customs declaration and other documents submitted to customs authorities have equal legal force if prepared in hard-copy format or as electronic documents.

6. Customs consultations (s. 21)

Similar to the Tax Code, the new Customs Code has introduced the concept of customs consultations (consultations on state customs issues). Consultation are divided into individual and generalized. The latter are approved by an order of the State Customs Service of Ukraine.

A person acting in accordance with the individual or generalized customs consultation is released from liability for non-compliance with the customs legislation.

7. Presumption of innocence (s. 8)

Once again, following the Tax Code, the new Customs Code has introduced presumption of innocence. The Code does not explain the exact meaning of such a presumption. However, it will be logical to assume that due to presumption of innocence, applicants will be deemed innocent of breaking the customs legislation until the customs authorities prove the opposite.

8. Exemption from liability for errors in customs declarations (s.s. 268 and 460)

According to the new Customs Code, an applicant is exempt from liability for errors made in a customs declaration, provided that such errors:

-  do not result in the applicant’s unlawful exemption from customs payments or reduction of their amount, or in failure to ensure compliance with arrangements related to tariff and/or non-tariff regulation of foreign economic activities;
- are not made on a regular basis.

Customs authority employees should allow applicants to correct such mistakes made in a customs declaration.

9. Possibility to file an additional customs declaration (s. 261)

The new Customs Code provides the possibility of filing an additional customs declaration where information required for determining the final customs value will only be known after the goods have been released into free circulation (for example, after the payment/accrual of royalty or other license payments determined based on the volume of sales/proceeds from sales). In this event, an applicant has the right to file a customs declaration within 180 days from the date of release of the relevant goods into free circulation.

The possibility of filing an additional customs declaration is also provided where the price value in a foreign economic agreement is determined according to a formula and is not known as of the declaration date. In this case, an additional declaration is filed within 90 days from the date of release of the relevant goods into free circulation.

10. Post audit (sections 345-354)

This is the first time that issues related to conducting a post audit, i.e. desk audit performed by customs authorities following completion of customs clearance, have been regulated on the Customs Code level.

Regulation of audits resembles to a large extent regulation of the relevant issues in the Tax Code. The Customs Code provides for performing remote and field audits and cross-reconciliations.

Field audits are divided into scheduled and unscheduled.