If you are intending to take gifts and souvenirs from Russia, you should establish in advance if you can take the items you have bought across the border. In Russia there are many artists and craftsmen producing wonderful handmade souvenirs (carved and painted wooden items, items made with precious and semi-precious stones, linen fabrics and the like are particularly valued) and there are many factories engaged in their mass production. Mementos can also be bought in antique stores and at flea markets.
Works of art, antiques, icons and old books are regarded as cultural treasures. Exporting some of them is banned: anything that is over a hundred years old, archaeological artifacts, any objects of scientific or artistic value, original military uniforms and accessories if they over fifty years of age, medals and other awards. Other valuables, including original paintings, statues, icons or miniatures can be taken out of the country if, Rosokhrankultura, the federal service for the oversight of legislation in the sphere of cultural heritage, which is subordinated to the Culture Ministry, gave permission in advance.
List of documents for the export of cultural treasures (objects of cultural significance) from the Russian Federation:
Cultural treasures which are exported from the country without the appropriate documents can be confiscated at the customs office and their owners can be fined in an amount up to half the value of the object. According to the legislation, modern souvenir works and objects of cultural significance that are mass produced are not regarded as being cultural treasures.In addition, without any formalities, visitors can take out caviar (up to 5 kilograms of red caviar and up to 250 grams of black caviar) and vodka (subject to limitations of the airline), or up to a liter of spirits per passenger. If it is not bought at the duty free store at the airport it must be packed in your luggage. It is recommended that you buy caviar from one of the large supermarkets, as this reduces the chances of it being faked or, in the case of black caviar, it having been poached or farmed unethically. For goods of the latter kind you should keep your receipt.
Department of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation for the Central Federal District, tel.: +7 (499) 346 44 15
Department of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation for the South and North Caucasus Federal Districts, the Department of State Control and Supervision over the Preservation of Cultural Property, tel.: +7 (863) 240 24 31
Administration of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation for the Volga Federal District, tel.: +7 (831) 419 23 34
Saint PetersburgAdministration of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation for the North-West Federal District, Department for Control over Export and Import of Cultural Property, tel.: +7 (812) 646 33 03