Kazakhstan - Country Commercial Guide
Customs Regulations
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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 system for movement of goods. The country significantly moved up and remains strong (25 out of 189 in 2020) on the World Bank’s “Doing Business” and “Trading Across Borders” indicators. 

On January 1, 2010, Kazakhstan adopted the unified customs tariffs and non-tariff regulations of Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan Customs Union (CU), a legal framework of the EAEU.  The CU implemented the new common Customs Code and abolished internal customs borders in July 2011.  Detailed information on legal agreements and the customs duties schedule can be found at the website of Eurasian Economic Commission (http://www.eurasiancommission.org/en/Pages/default.aspx)

Kazakhstan’s customs valuation rules largely conform to the WTO Valuation Agreement, and the country has adopted HS 96 as its tariff nomenclature. After nearly two decades of negotiations, in June 2015, Kazakhstan joined World Trade Organization (WTO).

The new Kazakhstan Customs Code and the Customs Code of the EAEU implemented a number of 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.

2021 saw some new changes in Kazakhstan’s customs regulations. Applications can now be made for a preliminary electronic classification of goods from the State Revenue Committee. Electronic applications should include electronic or scanned copies of documents confirming the required details and information about the goods with the review period for the classification of goods reduced from 20 to 10 working days, while the review period for classifying goods supplied unassembled (such as factory or plant equipment) has been reduced from 30 to 20 business days.

Previously, the customs authorities were entitled to classify goods only if they were transported across the EAEU customs border, since 2021 taxpayers importing goods from EAEU countries can request EAEU FEA CN codes for goods involved in mutual trade with EAEU countries or in domestic circulation from the customs authorities

A new risk management system-based comprehensive on-site customer audit has been introduced in 2021 and the number of cases when customs declarants are not accountable under the Administrative Violations Code has been increased.

Customs duties apply to goods imported to the Customs Union 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 Customs Union countries should be generally exempt from Kazakhstan customs duties.

When 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. In the situation wherein the goods will be exported from the territory of Kazakhstan to the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), it is necessary to customs clear goods at the Customs Union rate.

In addition to membership in the Customs Union, Kazakhstan concluded a number of 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 allows 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.  Kazakhstan will remove the requirement on import licensing for alcoholic beverages as a result of Russia’s accession to the WTO.

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 the recurring governmental industrialization program are exempted from customs duties.

Other reforms now 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.  The Customs Control Agency maintains a registry of licensed customs brokers and is required to post it at https://www.kdts.kz/en/, and http://www.evrazes.com/en/about/ with regular updates.

According to EEU and Kazakhstan customs legislation, depending on the customs procedure applied, customs declaration involves payment of any of the following:

  • customs fees set by Kazakhstani national legislation;
  • import duties set by Eurasian Economic Commission Resolutions;
  • export duties on certain goods, including petroleum products which set by the national legislation;
  • excise duties on certain type of goods according to Kazakhstan tax legislation;
  • 12% import VAT.

Apart from that, EAEU law includes provisions for special, antidumping, and protective duties on certain types of goods. Customs payments and taxes are payable to the state budget during customs declaration procedures.

Kazakhstan entered the WTO in 2015 and after entering the EAEU, but it negotiated a tariff lower than the common EAEU tariff. This means around 40 percent of customs duties in the EAEU are not harmonized. Tensions caused by non-tariff barriers consistently rise within EAEU countries and Kazakhstan is no exception, with a number of issues on either side of Russia and Kyrgyzstan, both EAEU members.

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) have included Kazakhstan in the list of countries through which controlled goods could potentially be imported to Russia and Belarus. Along with the Central Asian countries such as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, the list named Georgia, Armenia, Brazil, China, India, Israel, Mexico, Nicaragua, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa, Taiwan, Turkey, and United Arab Emirates, calling for increased vigilance on export controls. According to the recommendations, the list can assist in the risk-based screening of export-related financial transactions.

The recommendations provide that the goods subject to control can be exported to these states legally as raw materials. However, further export to Russia or Belarus of those finished products and goods, potentially through additional transshipment points may be prohibited. The BIS lists equipment that can be used for military purposes as items of particular concern: aircraft parts, sonar systems, antennas, spectrophotometers, test equipment, GPS systems, vacuum pumps, and oilfield equipment. For further information, please refer to FinCEN and BIS Joint Alert from June 28, 2022