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Parcels restrictions may hit Internet buyers in Kazakhstan 14 мая 2015, 13:13

Kazakhstan has introduced restrictions on parcels, setting weight and cost limits for customs control.
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Photo courtesy of lisakovsk.kz Photo courtesy of lisakovsk.kz

Rumours that parcels in Kazakhstan will be allowed only once a month has been creating a vibe throughout social networks. The news caused an outrage among Internet users who got accustomed to buying goods in foreign online stores, a Tengrinews correspondent reports.

The limitations were signed by Finance Minister Bakhyt Sultanov on 31 March and came into effect on May 2.

However, official representative of the State Revenue Committee of the Ministry of Finance Zhambyl Suraganov stressed that the question was not that of limiting the number of packages. He explained that the Customs Union Agreement established weight and cost standards, while the national legislations established further quantitative norms, but they apply only to luggage. They do not apply to Internet parcels, he said.

In accordance with the agreement signed by the partners on the Customs Union in June 2010, the customs value of goods for personal use may not exceed the equivalent of 1,000 euros and their weight may not exceed 31 kilograms during one calendar month. An exception is vehicles delivered to one addressee.

"That is, you can order ten packages worth 10, 100 euros, but their weight and cost in the aggregate in any calendar month may not exceed 1,000 euros and 31 kilograms," Suraganov said.

The state official said that the order "regulates legal relations arising only in connection with movement of goods by individuals for personal use through customs border of the Customs Union in accompanied or unaccompanied baggage". He elaborated that those goods transported by air transport could not exceed the cost "equivalent to 10,000 euros and the total weight may not exceed 50 kilograms." As for other transports, the customs value of goods "may not exceed the equivalent of 1,500 euros and the total weight may not be more than 50 kilograms."

According to the market expert and former employee of KazPost JSC Marat Chinaliyev, such restrictions are imposed to protect the local e-commerce market, which has difficulties competing with foreign online stores price- and range-wise. This is also done to limit illegal business activities.

He noted that traders often buy large batches of cheap goods and then resell them online, for example via Instagram.

"Internet orders are very convenient, they cost less and one doesn’t want to have constant limitations when making those. I do not know whether this issue is being worked out by the Ministry of Finance with Kazpost and other postal operators, but their earnings could be affected very negatively. Though I hope that the growth of local Internet market that will follow is going to compensate for the losses," Chinaliyev said.

Nevertheless, people a likely to find ways of going around the restrictions. For example, asking friends and relatives to make orders for you. Each of them can give you power of attorney to receive parcels. To the customs, this would look like parcels for different people.

Chinaliev added that it is possible to bypass restrictions by using forward services as well. This means that a person can use foreign addresses, for example in the United States, to order several items from several stores, and special companies will repackage those into one parcel and send it to Kazakhstan. The cost of such service is about 5-10 percent of the value of the goods.

Reporting by Assemgul Kassenova and Roza Yessenkulova, writing by Dinara Urazova


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