Importers will be punished for violating labeling rules

#industry news

The Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation has prepared a bill aimed at criminalizing importers of goods subject to mandatory labeling.

As explained in the press service of the Ministry, currently criminal liability is provided for violations of the labeling rules for the production, acquisition, storage, transportation or sale of goods.

"However, responsibility for the illegal import of unmarked products into the territory of Russia is not provided. The draft federal law proposes to harmonize this provision," the Ministry of Industry and Trade noted.

In the materials for the draft law posted by the Ministry on It is indicated that criminal liability for illegal trafficking, including importation, applies to certain types of products (ethyl alcohol, alcoholic and alcohol-containing products, new potentially dangerous psychoactive substances). Punishment for the illegal import of goods subject to labeling is not currently provided. "This approach actually excludes in practice the possibility of bringing to criminal responsibility unscrupulous importers of unmarked goods and puts in an unequal position within the framework of the single economic space of the Russian Federation organizations - manufacturers and suppliers and organizations-importers of goods subject to mandatory labeling by means of identification," the authors of the bill note.

It is assumed that the norm will work from January 1, 2025.

According to the data of the Federal Customs Service of Russia provided in the materials of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, most of the reports on the illegal import of labeled goods relate to the import of tobacco products: from January 1, 2020 to April 18, 2024, 763 reports of crimes of this category were registered by customs authorities (212 in 2020, 188 in 2021, 2022 in 2014 - 150, in 2023 - 168, in 2024 - 45), 505 of which - on the facts of illicit trafficking in tobacco products.

The specifics of labeling tobacco products imported into the Russian Federation and the procedure for importers to receive excise stamps are defined in the draft government decree prepared by the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation, posted on the portal .

According to the document, importers will be able to purchase excise stamps from the authorized customs authorities at the place of their state registration, subject to submitting a written application in the prescribed form and their advance payment. Excise stamps will be issued by the customs authorities without the importer submitting obligations on their use in accordance with their purpose and ensuring the fulfillment of the importer's obligation.

Currently, excise stamps are issued to importers when providing a bank guarantee or cash collateral.

In accordance with the draft, excise stamps issued by the customs authority must have individual series other than the series of excise stamps issued according to the applications of importers accepted by the authorized customs authority before June 28, 2024.

The document clarifies that excise stamps are not a means of identifying imported tobacco products. There is no control over the use of excise stamps by the customs authorities. The return of damaged and (or) unused excise stamps to the authorized customs authority that issued them and the submission of a report on their use is not carried out. Funds paid for excise stamps issued to importers, including unused or damaged ones, are not refundable.

In addition to the excise stamp, tobacco products imported and transported to the Russian Federation must be marked with identification means in accordance with a government decree dated February 28, 2019, which establishes labeling rules.

On June 1, 2024, a law came into force in the Russian Federation, which introduced the so-called digital excise tax (accounting and control special marks), integrated into the labeling system.