Illustration for article titled Russians chop cars in half to skirt import taxes

Life in the Second World means learning how to deal with bizarre taxes. One of the ways to get around the extortionate vehicle import duties common in many post-Soviet countries is to have your car chopped in half. An Audi sliced clean down the middle is suddenly not an Audi but two heaps of parts.


At least two Russian companies—coyly named Autoconsult and Autobest—provide services for shipping half-cars from the US to Eastern Europe, and a clean chop in the middle is actually the most expensive option. For reasons of shipping container utilization, the less you have to spare, the more pieces your brand-new Audi will arrive in. Very little money will buy a very disheartening jumble of parts which you will have to put back together like a jigsaw puzzle.

Costs for the procedure with middle-of-the-road levels of destruction come to around $2300 on Autobest’s site, which includes buying the car in Florida, chopping it up, shipping it in a container to Europe, then clearing the parts through customs in Belarus.


A weird practice, but consider that even Hungary—a member since 2004 of the European Union, a political entity which is also a customs union—is hit with the widely hated regadó (“registration tax”), which heaps a ridiculous duty of $16,000 (no typo there) on any used car with an engine bigger than 3.0 liters—that is to say, any interesting old car you might pick up in Germany or Italy, members of the same European Union. The price is often many times the market value of the car.

Photo Credit: Autoconsult

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