Russia’s Customs Service is intertwined with the history of the Russian state. Over the centuries some of the leading figures of the country have protected its economic interests. Institutions which have benefited from the revenue generated by customs duties were: the Army, the Economy, the Health Service, Education and other improvements to the State. It is well known that a lot of great architectural monuments were financed from money derived from taxes levied by the Customs.
The Russian Customs Service has always targeted smuggling. The trafficking of contraband was not the only thing to be prevented by the Customs. Among other things which were targeted by the Moscow Customs Department were the following: heretical books, other items of religious nature and playing cards, all of which could be harmful to the people of Russia. In the XV and XVII centuries visiting foreigners were often found to be smuggling out of Russia secret maps of its territories and its fortresses. Even Russian tsars and emperors were subject to the rules of the Customs Authorities. The very colors of the Russian Customs flag symbolize honor, dignity and the honesty and fairness of the Russian Customs officers.
In the Central Customs Museum (Moscow) there are examples of dutiable goods, prints showing the main trading centers of Russia, Charters granted by the Grand Princes, mannequins of trade people (the old name for Customs officers). All of these exhibits give a very vivid picture of daily life in the X and XII centuries when the Customs began collecting revenues.
Revenue collection was entrusted to the Russian Principalities and by the XIV century the right to collect the duties and work as customs officials could be inherited in some towns, villages and small administrative settlements, the volosty.
The Prikas (the Central State Department) was in charge of the revenue collection in XVII. Local authorities known as “golovi” and “voevodi” used to be responsible for the customs duties and fees collection. Customs officials who collected the largest number of fees were given a variety of rewords: sables or dippers, goblets, expensive cloths and bundles of valuable furs.
Peter the Great pioneered the improvement of the Russian Customs Service especially in the organization of its personnel. In 1699 the post of Burgomistr (the head of the Customs Service) was adopted. Since 1720 the major customs houses were called Senior Customs Observers or Inspectors. New appointments were made such as controllers, collectors and a variety of customs dealers. The control of the customs offices was entrusted to the Customs Collection Office in 1763. Since 1781 the Customs management has been under the jurisdiction of the Customs Expeditions and the Governors.
The reform in 1753-1757 contributed to the core restructuring of the Russian Customs Service. In November 1796 the major Customs Collection Office was given absolute power to control the revenues collection.
In 1753 domestic customs houses were abolished along 17 duties. Inward and outward commodity transactions were levied with an additional 13% duty in - 16 - Russian currency. In April 1918 the basic organization of the customs was fixed by Sovnarcom Decree. The Governmental control of foreign trade and smuggling was the main focus.
A new benchmark is dated 1991 when the State Customs Committee was founded. In 2004 the Federal Customs Service succeeded the State Customs Committee.
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