I'm addressing this guide both to sellers and buyers. Really good sellers are extremely worried about losses of parcels with valuable content. Buyers who didn't receive expected goods have an additional problem: which sort of feedback they should leave? ebay does not help, the problems of shipment as the issues of honesty and fairness are behind its concerns.
Being a Russian citizen I should confess that the Post of Russia is a dark spot on Russia's international face. However, on the "inner" face as well. Many eBayers think that the Russian Customs has a connection to losses. Below I will show, not. Let's begin from the "Post of Russia".
First, the Russian post service is very slow and has not respects from the side of other postal and transport companies. Because of it even outside Russia the postal boxes and parcels addressed to Russia go slowly. Inside Russia the loads move much more slowly. All giant international post coming to Russia go through the Moscow Post Office. Please take in account the size of my country and you can imagine which monster created by Uncle Joe you are dealing with. If I'm receiving the parcel from USA, UK, Canada, Greece during 3 weeks I'm happy! From Philippines, Australia, Uruguay, and from other countries behind oceans, as well as from Serbia, France, and China, a four-five weeks term is normal.
Second, there are some quantity of people working at the Russian Post, which are thieves. They have an unusual behavior. Twice I received parcels with partial content. Once upon I bought three sets of Cu-Ni coins from Spitzbergen, but I received only one set. Two others have been thieved! Another time I bought several Ag Mexican eight reales, and I received all of them except one. Somebody decided that is enough for me. These morally insane persons are attracted by moving content. These psychically insane persons have a satisfaction breaking envelops off . These poor people have a satisfaction grabbing your "richness". As they are not completely thieves, they grab only a part and only from unproperly formed envelopes.
Third, the Russian Post, being an ancient machine, regularly loses envelopes and small packets. It really loses them! If they are not registered, of course.
The strange opinion is circulating among sellers: coins are prohibited for shipping to Russia. It's not true.
Indeed, money (currency) as well as precious metal in any kind and condition are prohibited for mailing. This restriction of the Universal Postal Union has been put in action a century ago. Although it has a worldwide sense, now, after WWI and WWII this restriction is senseless. It is not carried out by any country.
All this is bad, but not hopeless.
Concerning to the Russian Customs, which only has a right to open parcels, believe me, this governmental service doesn't pay a great attention to coins or postcards. It fights against drugs, weapons, explosive materials and so on. No coin can't be stopped and prohibited for entering Russia. The customs recognizes precious coins as items containing precious metals. According to the Russian law the physical persons (so the law calls people in contrast of organizations) have a right to receive by mail items of precious content. Other coins are just metallic rings. So, every coin is just the goods for customs. There is one restriction: you can receive the goods of no more than 10 000 (ten thousand) roubles per week. If you are receiving the goods for more sum, you should pay fee: 30% from the sum exceeding 10 000 roubles. This is an unpleasant fact, but durra lex ed lex. If the customs suspends the exceeding, it send you a notice. You must declare your goods during 15 days and, if necessary, pay fees.
To our happiness the customs carries out checking randomly. As I can judge a parcel can be put under checking in one case from thousand. And only if it has unusual appearance. Under "unusual" I mean: obviously "secret" package (a thick layer of polyfoam or visible through parcel multiple layers of tape); big box with obviously small content, which is shaking and knocking; parcels with content, which can be interpreted as a powder.
Such parcels will be checked specially, not randomly.
Generally, to hide coins from customs officers is an useless and unnecessary business.
Accordingly, what can we do?
Against losses on Russian open space:
Ship only via registered mail.
Buyers from Russia! Your total loss cost is more than registered mail price!
Sellers! Explain this for your buyers! Delivery confirmation is not necessary because it is often neglected by postmen (worldwide, by the way). The best way to save your cargo is a big box weighting 1 kG or more! Such a parcel is packed into separate bag under official stamp.
Against "strange thieves":
Sellers! Pack coins properly, i.e. don't just drop coins into envelope, but put them between layers of cardboard, stick with adhesive tape or put in a bubble envelope and then in a postal envelope. Coins should not move and knock. Put adhesive tape onto every seam of envelope.
Buyers! Ask sellers to do that!
Against "the turtle course" of the "Post of Russia":
Unfortunately, no method is successive. Nor "AVIA", neither "PRIORITY". Only Global Express, DHL and similar. Note, not for 2-3 days! For 5-7 days. Believe me, it is my shame and sorrow.
Against the customs:
Sellers and buyers! You must not fight against the customs! In contrast, please be precautionary and accurate. Divide parcels onto portions of $400 (10 000 RUR).
Below I show the proper order of dealing with the customs:
Put signed specification of coins and their price together with coins.
Buyers, if you receive parcel with a customs notice:
Make a copy of your passport (first two pages).
Write an application (see example) and add copy of passport and specification with a proof of coins price. You can use a payment page from a Paypal site or the statement of your bank.
Take you parcel and documents and go to the nearest customs check point. Its address will be shown in the notice.
Put dociments and coins into the small window and say: "Declaration by application". Coins will be returned to you. They are yours!
After two-three days, go to checkpoint again and take a copy of your application with a stamp "Release is permitted" or learn how many you should pay before.
Be patient and goodwilling. All operation are absolutely legal. Customs officers are acting slowly, but they have not claims against you or to your coins. They are doing their business.
Coins are not prohibited for mailing Russia! You can reduce your charges and save your parcels!
Example of customs declaration by application (to be Russian):
To (...) customs checkpoint
Application for goods declaration
Information about declarant: (Your names, passport data, address)
Sender: (Name of seller or seller's company; you can point an eBay store name)
Customs mode: Import for personal needs
Information about goods: (List the coin specification, code TNVED 7118101000, quantity)
(Example: 1. Coin Bolivia 8 reales 1823, kod TNVED 7118101000, 1 pc.
2. Coin Mexico 8 reales 1861, kod TNVED 7118101000, 1 pc.)
Price of goods: $90,78
Shipping cost: $6,86
Registered mail number (if any): RR917997718SG
Notice number (wich you received from customs): 3133 from 08.07.2008
Unfortunately, the international portal recognizes the only English language, American version. If you need, I send you a Russian example.