Vosgerichian Family from Lebanon Repatriates to Armenia; Must Pay $14,000 in Customs Fees Due to Legal Glitch
Iskhan Vosgerichian, who moved to Armenia from Lebanon with his family in 2016, is in a bit of a quandary with customs officials.
The father of two says that 4 tons of household goods he shipped by boat from Beirut are waiting in a Yerevan warehouse and that Armenian customs officials say it will cost $16,000 to clear the items.
Vosgerichian, a jeweler by trade back in Lebanon but unemployed in Armenia, tells Hetq he doesn’t have the money to pay.
“The items were shipped from Poti on January 15. Since then, they’ve been stored in a Shengavit warehouse. Officials say I have to pay $4 for every kilogram, or $16,000,” Vosgerichian says.
Arguing that he should be given a break as a diaspora Armenian seeking to permanently resettle in Armenia, Vosgerichian wrote to the prime minister’s office. Office Chief of Staff Eduard Aghajanyan followed up on the request and got in touch with State Revenue Committee (SRC) Deputy Chairman Rafik Mashadyan.
Mashadyan, in a letter to Vosgerichian, writes that although Article 249 of the Law on Customs Regulations states that those permanently resettling in Armenia can ship used personal items without paying customs fees, he is not eligible since he violated another clause of the same article stipulating that a person cannot reside for more than 184 days outside Armenia in a one- year period.
Vosgerichian says he wasn’t aware of the time limit when he first arrived in Armenia in the spring of 2016. He then returned to Lebanon that August, to bring his wife and two boys.
“They should tell diaspora Armenians about this when they come here. The foreign ministry or another department should hand out flyers warning them of the consequences if they violate the rules,” says a frustrated Vosgerichian, adding that this is what he told SRC officials when he met with them.
P.S. Nikol Pashinyan, after being appointed prime minister, announced that his government was planning a grand repatriation program and that steps were being taken to facilitate such a venture. As the above case shows, those planning to do so are advised to read the fine print of all applicable rules and regulations.