Supply contract: white, grey and black import schemes – what is the difference?


Customs clearance of imports is a task that requires professional knowledge, skills, and experience. The key to a successful import transaction and delivery of cargo without delay in one piece is the proper execution of the necessary documents for customs clearance.

For independent customs clearance of imported products, you need to provide the following documents:


  1. Foreign Trade Contract. It must be written in two languages-English and Russian with the seals and signatures of both parties. It is very important that the Contract is drawn up correctly and without errors when translated into English.
  2. Specification and Invoice-which specify the list of goods, the cost of these goods, the number of units of production, articles or characteristics of the goods, information about the Supplier and Customer, terms of delivery in accordance with international Incoterms rules, HS code. These documents must also be written in two languages.
  3. The Packing list is an analog of invoice TORG-12 in Russia.
  4. Technical description of the product, taking into account data on the material of manufacture, scope, and principle of operation.
  5. Documents confirming the currency transfer to the Supplier under the foreign trade Contract with the Bank’s marks.
  6. The Сontract for transport and brokerage services.
  7. A Copy of the passport of the import transaction (open in the Bank), if the Contract amount exceeds 50,000 USD.
  8. Certificates of Conformity or Declarations of compliance with the technical regulations of the Customs Union. The list of products subjects to mandatory certification can be found in the Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 982 of 01.12.2009.
  9. Copies of payment orders for payment of customs duties and taxes, as well as VAT.


Each of these documents must have the seal of the importing company and the signatures of the head of the company and the chief accountant.

The most common mistake of an Entrepreneur who has decided to bring any products from abroad is to conclude a foreign trade Contract with a Supplier without a detailed study of the delivery scheme and customs clearance of the purchased goods.

First, the Entrepreneur needs to decide on the customs clearance scheme. In some cases, it is more profitable to deliver products under the Buyer’s foreign trade Contract. In others – Under the contract of a logistics company. It is important for an entrepreneur to first choose the best option before the Supplier receives payment for the product, since after signing a Contract with the Seller – there is no turning back.

If the Buyer makes the payment for the goods to the Seller from their currency account, and customs clearance is under the foreign trade Contract of the logistics company, the Buyer will have problems with currency control in the Bank where the payment was made.


“White scheme” of customs clearance


When using this scheme, all documents for each batch of goods are drawn up in full accordance with the customs code, fully indicating the actual cost of the goods, the HS code, and other related data on delivery.

This is a completely transparent, safe, and most expensive scheme for the supply of imported products. The cost of imported products under this scheme is usually quite high. Start-up entrepreneurs and small companies can hardly afford to incur such costs when importing imported products without the necessary optimization. And in addition, the customs clearance process, in this case, will be quite time-consuming, since the Buyer will need to provide an extensive and complete set of documents necessary for customs clearance, which was mentioned at the beginning, correctly and without errors, which can only be processed by a specialist in this field, and whose services to the Buyer “will also cost money”.

In this regard, the “white scheme” of customs clearance is suitable only for large organizations and firms working under state contracts or large network companies.


“Grey scheme” of customs clearance


This scheme differs from the “white” in that customs clearance is performed on the contract of the logistics company, while the logistics company does not violate the customs code, but optimizes costs. The importer and Buyer of the product is not the Buyer, but the logistics company. Upon the arrival of the cargo in the Russian Federation, the client receives it under a Delivery Agreement or a contract for the purchase and sale of goods from a Russian LLC.

The main way to optimize customs payments is to specify the undervalued value of the goods in the Declaration. This reduces the amount of import customs duty. The price of the product can be lowered in various ways, for example, by agreement with the Supplier, the difference in the price of the product, in this case, the Supplier receives in cash or by transfer.

The essence of the “grey scheme” is to safely optimize the cost of customs clearance. The popularity of such a delivery scheme is quite relevant since the customer does not need to deal with the documentation of the delivery themselves, these concerns fall on the shoulders of the logistics company. The delay of goods at customs is excluded, fines and troubles do not threaten either the customer, the carrier, or the logistics company – the goods are imported legally. Problems with the tax inspection also do not occur with the shipment, the customer receives a set of documents.


“Black scheme” of customs clearance


This scheme involves a direct violation of current legislation and the customs code. The Declaration specifies one product, but in fact, carries a completely different one, or lowers the weight of the goods to carry part of the cargo for free, or the border is passed by prior agreement for cash. This delivery scheme can only be offered by an unscrupulous and dishonest carrier. The cost of registration in these cases is reduced several times, but this is a gross violation of the law and crime, with all the consequences:

Article 188 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation – smuggling, imprisonment for up to 12 years;

Article 194 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation – evasion of customs duties, imprisonment for up to 2 years;

Article 180 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation – illegal use of a trademark, imprisonment for up to 6 years.

If an Entrepreneur is offered delivery and customs clearance at too low a price, this is a reason to think, because “cheap is not good”. Those who understand the danger of “black schemes” of delivery-never use them.




Potential buyers need to calculate delivery options and customs clearance of imported products in advance and before paying the Supplier for the product. Otherwise, you may not have made the best decision, but it will be too late to change anything.

In this case, do not despair – professional lawyers and lawyers will do everything possible to protect your rights.


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