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What is a Carnet?

As a business or business traveller, having an ATA Carnet in place can save you both time and money, reducing the red tape and expense to temporarily export and re-import certain categories of goods for specific commercial purposes.

Working in partnership with the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), who provide our head office with an exclusive in-house certification department, we can complete and file the paperwork to apply for an ATA Carnet on your behalf. By having experienced ATA Carnet service providers prepare and process your carnet application, this can give you the peace of mind that your application will be handled swiftly and efficiently.

What is a carnet?

A carnet (pronounced kar-nay) is an international customs document permitting the temporary admission of goods to and from the multiple countries or territories worldwide that fall within the ATA Carnet system, without having to pay import duties or taxes.

Commonly called ATA Carnets—“ATA” is an acronym for the French and English words “Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission“—the ATA Carnet document acts as a globally accepted surety from national guaranteeing associations for the payment of foreign customs duties and taxes, which may become due on goods that are not used or re-exported as required.

The ATA Carnet system was adopted to facilitate world trade by reducing barriers caused by varying national customs regulations, providing an international customs guarantee chain established by the World Chambers Federation (WCF) of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).

What is the purpose of a carnet?

The ATA Carnet is a unified customs declaration form. It is prepared in advance and intended to be shown at each point of exit and entry for qualifying goods, whether shipped or carried in person.
The carnet not only eliminates customs duties and taxes and the need for several cash deposits, it also simplifies the domestic and foreign customs clearance process. It bypasses the different procedures and documentation requirements for the temporary admission of goods established in multiple countries, including lodging a temporary import bond or security deposit on each occasion.

Once approved, an ATA Carnet can be used to take advantage of streamlined customs procedures for trips covering more than one foreign country. ATA Carnets can also cover the transit of goods through certain countries en route to another foreign country in which you will temporarily use those goods, including numerous exits and re-entries in the country of origin during its period of validity.

How long is a carnet valid for?

An ATA Carnet is valid for a period of up to one year, allowing you or any authorised representative to use a single document for seamlessly clearing certain categories of commercial goods through multiple foreign customs points — and providing relief from import duties and taxes.

The Carnet comprises a front and back cover, with different coloured counterfoils and corresponding vouchers for entries, exits, and transits through signatory countries. The vouchers will be removed and retained by customs officials, while the counterfoils will be stamped and remain with the carnet, acting as the customs clearance receipt for the carnet-holder or representative.

What goods are covered by an ATA Carnet?

Commonly described as the “merchandise passport” or “passport for goods”, the ATA Carnet system allows both temporary exports and temporary imports of all types of goods to carnet countries on a tax-free and duty-free basis.

The types of goods covered under an ATA Carnet can vary between participating countries, with several countries only accepting carnets for specific purposes. However, in many cases, an ATA Carnet will enable you to export and re-import the following three main categories of goods:

  • commercial samples to be shown or demonstrated to potential buyers overseas
  • display goods or items to be used at exhibitions, fairs, and trade shows, or similar events
  • professional equipment required to perform a commercial activity abroad, such as sporting equipment, video equipment, scientific or testing equipment, or even larger-scale equipment or industrial machinery.

With the exception of perishable or consumable items, goods destined for processing or repair, and goods intended for sale, ATA Carnets cover almost all types of goods, from large shipments of equipment to samples and tools of the trade for small-business sales representatives.

Where can I use an ATA Carnet?

There are 80-plus signatory countries and territories worldwide that are now members of the ATA Carnet system, facilitating the temporary export and re-import of goods across Europe, North America, South America, Asia, Africa ,and Oceania.

Taiwan is not one of the signatory countries to the worldwide ATA Carnet system, but is covered by bilateral agreements between Taiwan and certain participating countries that are contracting parties to the ATA Carnet or Istanbul Conventions, including the UK. In these cases, a China-Taiwan Carnet will be used instead, although the conditions for its use are the same as those for a standard ATA Carnet.

Each national guaranteeing association issues ATA Carnets to its country’s residents. Consult the UK’s national guaranteeing association, UK National ATA Carnet Organisation (UKNATACO), for additional information on ATA Carnets.

How can Blair ATA Carnet service providers help you?

At Blair we offer a complete ATA Carnet preparation and certification service to facilitate foreign customs transactions across all countries and territories forming part of the ATA system. This includes the temporary exportation and temporary importation (and re-exportation and re-importation) of commercial samples, exhibit items, professional equipment, and any other qualifying carnet goods.

As the designated agent of the LCCI, we can process your application along with a security deposit, based on a percentage of your shipment value, designed to cover any customs claims that may arise from a misused carnet. We can process your merchandise passport through either our 24-hour standard service or expedited two-hour express service. If you lose your original carnet, we can also advise on replacement carnets.

To discuss our ATA Carnet services further, and to find out more about how ATA Carnets and ATA Carnet customs procedures can help you or your business, please telephone our Sales Team on +44 (0) 1784 254123 or email us to learn more today.

Legal disclaimer

The matters contained within this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This blog does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law in England and Wales and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, either express or implied, is given as to the accuracy of the blog contents, and no liability is accepted for any errors or omissions. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert advice should be sought.

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