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  • Paul Pini

The benefits of using an ATA Carnet

Before we go into the benefits, we thought it would be useful to share what an ATA Carnet is for those who may be unsure. Often referred to as the "Passport for goods' ', an ATA Carnet is an international customs document that permits the transit of goods across international borders tax-free and duty-free by means of temporary export and import of nonperishable goods for up to one year from the date of issue. The issuing country’s chamber of commerce will issue a bond to cover the value of the goods, so it's like the government guaranteeing your shipment.


The obvious and main benefit of using an ATA Carnet is that it simplifies the Customs procedure formalities when temporarily exporting goods from the UK and importing goods into the U.S. and other countries that are part of the ATA Carnet system. It does not mean that you don't need a customs entry, as all shipments to and from any country need to be logged, however, if you are using a ATA Carnet to hand-carry come professional equipment you must present both the ATA Carnet and goods at customs at both the departure and arrival customs red channel and the same when returning home.


Without a carnet, it would be necessary to go through the customs procedures established in each country for the temporary admission of goods, with the potential to pay duty and tax or a bond fee to cover the goods while in that country. The carnet allows the business traveller to use one single document for clearing certain categories of goods through customs in several different countries.


It may be used for unlimited exits from and entries into the U.S. and participating foreign countries during the one-year validity, providing there are enough vouchers in the carnet. Always check before you travel that you have at least one spare set of export and import vouchers to allow customs to stamp the carnet. Carnets are accepted as the entry document and satisfy the importer’s obligation to post a security in more than 100 countries and territories worldwide, but always check with your logistics partner that additional documentation is not also required.


There are three categories of goods for a carnet and some countries vary on what category of goods they accept.

  1. Commercial Samples

  2. Professional Equipment

  3. Exhibitions and Fairs

Here are some other reasons why you might want to use a ATA Carnet:

  • Reduces costs to the exporter.

Eliminates value-added taxes (VAT), duties, and the posting of security normally required at the time of importation.

  • Simplified customs procedures.

Allows a temporary exporter to use a single document for all customs transactions, make arrangements for entry to many countries in advance, and do so at a predetermined cost.

  • Facilitates re-entry into the U.S.

Eliminates the need to register goods with U.S. Customs at the time of departure.


If you need advice on this, or any other element of your logistics processing, please contact us.

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