Kazakhstan has made significant improvements to its customs code regulations and procedures, moving from an overly complicated and, at times, nontransparent system to a more expeditious movement of goods. However, the country still ranks in the bottom half of countries (105 out of 190) on the World Bank’s “Trading Across Borders” metric.
Kazakhstan’s customs valuation rules largely conform to the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Customs Valuation Agreement, and the country has adopted the Harmonized Schedule (HS) as its tariff nomenclature. Kazakhstan joined WTO in 2015.
On January 1, 2010, Kazakhstan adopted the unified customs tariffs and non-tariff regulations of the Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan Customs Union (CU), a legal framework of Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). Detailed information on legal agreements and the customs duties schedule can be found at the website of the Eurasian Economic Commission.
The new Kazakhstan Customs Code and the Customs Code of the Eurasian Economic Union implemented several progressive provisions intended for simplification of customs procedures, integration of information technology (IT) initiatives, and reduction of ‘red tape’ issues in customs control procedures from January 2018. In April 2018, full-scale electronic declaration was launched for all customs procedures through Information System ‘Astana – 1’. The Customs Code of the Eurasian Economic Union conceptually changed the definition of a ‘customs declarant’, which may significantly impact business models of supply chains and logistics. Finally, the new provisions allow an entity that is qualified as an ‘authorized economic operator’ to apply simplified customs procedures.
Customs duties apply to goods imported to the CU countries from third countries. Customs duties rates are established either based on a percentage (in general, ranging between 0% and 40%; higher rates exist for certain goods) of the customs value of goods or in absolute terms in Euros (EUR) or U.S. dollars. Goods of the CU countries should be generally exempt from Kazakhstan customs duties.
In case the owner is sure that the product will be used only on the territory of Kazakhstan, it is possible to clear goods at the WTO rates. If the goods will be exported from the territory of Kazakhstan to the Member States of the EAEU, it is necessary to clear goods at the rate of the CU.
In addition to membership in the CU, Kazakhstan concluded several bilateral and multilateral Free Trade Agreements with the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which provide for exemption of goods circulated between the CIS member states from customs duties, provided certain conditions are met. The ATA Carnet temporary import system was recently launched in Kazakhstan, allowing the duty-free temporary import and export of goods for specific purposes.
Kazakhstan continues to maintain tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) on imports of poultry, beef, and pork, as part of its obligations within the CU. Precious metals and stones, encrypted technologies, documents from national archives, and items of cultural value are among the products now subject to export licensing.
The Law on Investments provides customs duty exemptions for imported equipment and spare parts, but only if Kazakhstani produced stocks are unavailable or not up to international standards. In addition, imported equipment and spare parts designated for priority investment projects under governmental industrialization programs are exempted from customs duties.
Other reforms allow foreign citizens to import and declare goods at a port of entry without utilizing domestic customs brokers. Previously, foreign citizens that wished to import goods into Kazakhstan were required to have a Kazakhstani partner. Notwithstanding this reform, foreign citizens may still be required to have domestic customs brokers in order to file electronic customs declarations, unless they have software compatible with the new CU computer system.
Foreign firms can import some items for their own use duty-free including equipment and spare parts imported to implement an investment project, if this equipment is unavailable on the territory of Kazakhstan. Generally, Customs requires that imported goods be placed in a temporary storage warehouse operated by a customs-licensee pending clearance – a procedure that importers claim can add significant costs and delays to customs processing. U.S. firms have noted that the need to present “transaction passports” ranging from document procurements to bank transfers in order to clear their goods with Customs is a significant barrier to trade. Implementation of regulations allowing periodic declarations remains problematic.
Foreign entities cannot deal directly with customs officials in Kazakhstan and are legally required to use services provided by licensed customs brokers having the right to operate in Kazakhstan. A list of licensed customs brokers can be found on the website of the Kazakhstan Association of Customs Brokers.
According to EAEU and Kazakhstan customs legislation, depending on the customs procedure applied, customs declaration involves payment of any of the following:
customs fees set by the national legislation of the Republic of Kazakhstan (RK);
import duties set by Eurasian Economic Commission resolutions;
export duties on certain goods, including petroleum products set by national legislation of the RK;
excise duties on certain type of goods according to Kazakhstan tax legislation;
12% import value-added tax (VAT).
In addition, EAEU law considers special, antidumping and protective duties on certain types of goods. Customs payments and taxes are payable to the state budget during customs declaration procedures.
Used Household Goods and Personal Effects
- Copy of passport
- Detailed inventory, including number of items in each carton and gross weight of each box
- Original bill of lading (OBL) / air waybill (AWB)
- Letter of employment on employer letterhead (shipments above 200 kgs) for for foreign citizens
- Copy of Kazakh visa (non – citizens)
- EC-POA on employer letterhead or notarized (non – citizens)
- Brokerage agreement (non – citizens and returning citizens)
- Notarized copy of ID (returning citizens)
- Customs may inspect any non-diplomatic shipments upon arrival.
- Do not send insurance or any other documents showing the true value of household goods and personal effects with the shipment to avoid the payment of heavy import duties.
- All in-bound non-diplomatic shipments are subject to the payment of customs duties and taxes calculated based on the cost, insurance, and freight value of the shipment.
- Only shipments between Russia, Belorussia, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, and Kazakhstan are duty free.
- All in-bound shipments are subject to issuance of a declaration per shipment; the cost of the Customs declaration(s) will be determined during the Customs clearance process.
- Customs clearance takes between 5 – 7 working days after permission from the National Security Committee (for electronic appliances if any in the shipment) is received.
Kazakhstan has a secular constitution. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend other cultures or religious beliefs.
Possession and use of drugs is illegal; if found guilty, you could face a lengthy prison sentence in basic conditions.
Although homosexuality is not illegal, it is often not tolerated, especially outside the major cities. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
You must carry your passport at all times (not a photocopy).
There are restrictions on photography near military establishments, border areas and some official buildings. Notices about these restrictions are not always indicated. Photographing airport facilities is prohibited. Many of the larger shops and supermarkets also prohibit photography.
You can import a drone into Kazakhstan at airports or land border crossings without a licence. However, unlicensed use of drones in Kazakhstan will attract a fine, detention and confiscation of equipment. You can get a licence to use a drone from the Aviation Committee in Nur-Sultan. Applications for licences should include technical characteristics of the drone and details of planned use (when, where, how long). You can find more information about licensing requirements on the Zakon.kz website (information portal of the Republic of Kazakhstan) (only in Russian).
All goods entering the customs territory of Kazakhstan are subject to declaration and customs clearance at approved customs clearance points. A full declaration of goods must be filed within thirty days of arrival, but a brief declaration and notification on arrival of goods shall be submitted to the customs body within 24 hours after the goods cross the border and are placed at a temporary storage warehouse. With the exception of private persons permitted to transfer goods under a simplified procedure, a customs declaration must be filed by a Kazakhstani entity – that is, a business organization registered under Kazakhstani law or its affiliate or representative located in Kazakhstan, an individual entrepreneur registered in Kazakhstan, or a permanent resident of Kazakhstan. Foreign entities cannot deal directly with customs officials in Kazakhstan and are legally required to use services provided by licensed customs brokers having the right to operate in in the country.
A party declaring commercial goods at a customs office in Kazakhstan for their release for free circulation is responsible for submitting the paper and electronic copies of customs declarations (one copy of each per shipment), as well as accompanying documents. The Customs Cargo Declaration (5 copies) must be completed in either the Kazakh or Russian language. Other documents may be submitted in a foreign language. A customs officer, however, has the authority to request a translation of such documents into Kazakh or Russian as well as a notarization of the translation. In addition to the Customs Cargo Declaration, a party declaring goods is required to submit a set of other documents including invoices, a contract for the supply of goods, an import/export transaction passport and shipping documents (e.g., bill of lading, airway bill, etc.). The passport of transaction is the primary tool used in the framework of the currency control system. The passport of transaction represents a cross-agency document filled out by the exporter/importer and reviewed by customs officials and representatives of the exporter/importer’s bank.
From January 1, 2019, Kazakhstan imposed restrictions on the free of duty import of “personal” goods. The threshold of duty-free importation of goods for personal use of land and sea transport to the territory of the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) is reduced to 500 euros, and the total weight of such goods should not exceed 25 kilograms.