Russian Ops Update: Changes in the “Domestic Flights” Definition and Its Impact on You

PT 4 M minute read

Russia recently implemented new customs rules and a new definition of “domestic flights” and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) that have significantly limited the movement of aircraft via domestic routes and have created confusion within the business aviation community.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Changed definition for domestic flights

Beginning in April 2019, “Domestic Flights” for Russia are defined as any flights within the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), which consists of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan.

  • International flights are not subject to any fees.
  • Domestic, private flights (i.e., not for hire or commercial gain) on aircraft of fewer than 28 tons BOW or with 19 passenger seats or fewer must accomplish the customs procedure called Import 53 (IM53).
  • Note: Larger aircraft are not eligible for IM53, and must perform Customs clearing at the full rate as mentioned in #4 below.

2. How to complete IM53

Implementing the IM53 procedure for CIQ is quite complicated and requires a customs broker to be completed. IM53 must be performed by the aircraft owner or by a customs broker. The cost to complete the IM53 is approximately 1000 EUR, and the process requires at least three working days if you don’t already have a customs broker in place—or next day if you do have the broker in place. The 1000 EUR includes both Customs fees for IM53 and the broker efforts to follow up the procedure. The price may vary depending on location and local broker.

Note: The customs process itself takes a couple of hours on arrival. Three business days is required to set up contact with a customs broker. “Set up contact” means that a broker and aircraft owner/operator sign a contract, which creates a legal base for a broker to represent the operator’s interests during the customs clearance procedure.

During that setup time, you’ll need to provide all the necessary documents (including BOW confirmation and Proforma that proves aircraft costs for customs purposes). Once you’ve set up the broker and have provided all necessary documents, your aircraft can arrive as early as the next day.

3. Cabotage rules and transporting passengers

Rules of transporting passengers, including cabotage issues, are now regulated by Government decree #527 and requires more coordination efforts and documents to receive a permit.

Since June 21, 2019, in order to obtain permission for the carriage of passengers or cargo by domestic routes, coordination with local carriers is required.

If the flight purpose (item 5 form N) differs from NON-COMMERCIAL, all operators must get “non-objection” letters from local carriers not later than five working days before submitting a permit application to CAA.

Such coordination is not required if 1) the category and purpose of the flight is private non-commercial, 2) the flight is in the interest of the owner, and 3) the contract of transportation was not concluded.

Application for non-scheduled flight operations must be submitted to CAA in accordance with renewed form N (along with revised AIP). Please pay attention that Item 5 (purpose of flight) and Item 6 (category of flight) must be indicated strictly in accordance with proposed options.
It is also necessary to provide additional information such as: full charter details (name, contacts), receiving party details, etc.

4. Customs fees

Domestic flights on any aircraft weighing more than 28 tons BOW or having more than 19 passenger seats must pay a customs fee of 13.6 percent of the customs value of the aircraft plus 20 percent VAT.

  • The 13.6 percent fee can be paid in installments of three percent per month
  • The installments are only due for months when the aircraft travels domestically within Russia

5. Importation options

Aircraft imported for international transportation (TSMP) without restriction on mass and pass/seats:

  • No restrictions on the weight of the aircraft and the number of seats;
  • Does not require payment of customs duties or taxes;
  • Requires General Declaration;
  • Does not allow transfer to other persons (NO change in payload);
  • Does not allow domestic transportation within the territory of the EAEU (i.e., the point of departure and destination on any leg must not be located in the EAEU countries at the same time).

Aircraft imported for temporary use on the territory of the EAEU (for aircraft with an empty weight of up to 28 tons and not more than 19 seats):

  • WITHOUT PAYMENT of customs duties and taxes (but security deposit may be required);
  • The application is submitted in writing;
  • Maximal one time stay in Russia is 30 calendar days;
  • The total duration of stay is not more than 180 calendar days within one calendar year;
  • Aircraft should NOT be used to generate income;
  • Customs procedure called IM53 (Import 53) must be performed by aircraft owner, or by customs broker (Estimated cost is about 1000 EUR, better to have three working days for arrangements and document collection)

All other cases

  • Partial payment of customs duties and taxes (3 percent monthly from the amount of import customs duties and taxes);
  • Submission of goods declaration in electronic form;
  • The total duration of stay is two years (365 + 365);
  • It can require the security deposit.


For now, the most economical option for operators who fall into the category of (greater than 28 tons BOW or more than 19 passenger seats) is to only make international flights into and out of EUEA airports when at all possible, and avoid domestic flights. Much uncertainty remains regarding international sanctions against Russia and their impact on business aviation.

To avoid not scheduling flights due to fear they may be illegal based on hearsay and incorrect information, it’s recommended operators contact Universal Aviation Russia for guidance.

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