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DHL, FedEx suspend shipments to Russian customers

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[January 24, 2014]  By Maria Kiselyova and Olga Sichkar

MOSCOW (Reuters)  Express delivery companies DHL and FedEx <FDX.N> said on Thursday they had suspended foreign shipments to individual customers in Russia because of stricter customs procedures, making it harder for internet users to buy goods from abroad.

President Vladimir Putin ordered a campaign late last year to "put into order" a booming e-commerce sector. One of the proposed measures was lowering a value threshold for purchases in foreign online stores that are subject to customs duty.

According to DHL Express, part of Deutsche Post <DPWGn.DE>, Russian authorities from January 2014 expanded the list of documents required to ship goods to individual customers, which has significantly slowed customs clearance.

DHL will suspend all shipments of goods for personal use to Russia from January 27, the company said in emailed comments, after already suspending most such imports already in 2010.

A Moscow call-centre operator for FedEx said shipments to individual customers in Russia were "temporarily suspended". The FedEx press office was not immediately available for comment.

According to a draft letter to clients from Russia's Association of Express Carriers, seen by Reuters, other providers such as UPS <UPS.N>, TNT <TNTE.AS>, and DPD also decided to suspend imports.

UPS said it had seen significant delays in delivery of packages to private individuals in Russia due to the additional customs procedures. TNT <TNTE.AS> and DPD could not be reached.

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Maxim Andryukhin, head of representation for Russia at Bay.ru, a company which helps Russians buy products from sites such as eBay <EBAY.O> and Amazon <AMZN.O>, said the procedures meant it was now asking customers to provide more documents such as a scanned copy of their passports.

Alexei Zhukov, head of marketing at express delivery firm SPSR, said the customs rules had not changed, but there had been a shift in practice.

"A customs officer could always request (additional) information if he had any doubts, and there were selection checks. Now, these requirements apply to all parcels," he said.

(Reporting by Maria Kiselyova and Olga Sichkar; editing by Tom Pfeiffer)

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