The ATA Carnet is an international customs document that allows you to take goods/equipment overseas as a temporary export, free of duty and tax, for a period of up to one year, and is effectively a passport for your goods. This is particularly useful if you are taking samples to customers, exhibiting at trade fairs or transporting equipment.
The abbreviation “ATA” is a combination of the initial letters of the French words “Admission Temporaire” and of the English words “Temporary Admission” and refers not only to the ATA Carnet itself but also to the CPD/China-Taiwan.
An ATA Carnet can be used by a private individual or a business, but the documents will name a “holder” who is responsible for the goods while they are out of the originating country. The holder must make sure that:
- the country to be visited accepts ATA Carnets for the type of goods and use required
- the carnet is presented to Customs for endorsement each time the goods enter or leave a country/Customs territory
- they advise Customs if the goods are no longer eligible for use under the carnet purchased (eg, diverting goods to home use)
- they can present the carnet (and the goods) when requested by customs.
ATA Carnet Chain
The ATA Carnet system relies on co-operation between business and Customs and is only valid in countries that are signatories to Customs Convention on the ATA Carnet or the Istanbul Convention. This list is growing and as of March 2014, over 175,000 ATA Carnets were produced by 73 countries worldwide who are participating in the scheme, with Albania and Madagascar being the latest to join. Participating countries currently are:
Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina , Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Cote D’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hong Kong (China), Hungary, Iceland, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macao (China) Macedonia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and USA.
How Does the ATA Carnet system work
The issuing associations in each country provide a guarantee through an International Guarantee Chain, for any Customs charges potentially due on your goods in the countries to be visited. They will charge a fee for this service and will require the holder to provide them with a guarantee, or other security, in case the goods are incorrectly used or not re-exported from the country(s) visited.
The carnet must be presented to Customs each time the goods are imported, exported or transit through a country. For Customs purposes the EU is treated as a single territory,so a carnet does not therefore need to be presented in each EU country visited; only at the place of first entry and exit from the EU. If Customs in the country visited are not satisfied that the goods have been re-exported or an ineligible use has been made, they will make a claim to the carnet association in their country for payment of the Customs charges due.
Obtaining an ATA Carnet
In the UK ATA Carnets for goods to be temporarily exported from the UK can be purchased from Chambers of Commerce and you should contact your local Chamber to find your nearest issuing Chamber. Issuing Chambers include Belfast, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Dorset (Poole), Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Durham), Northampton, Norwich, Nottingham, Portsmouth, Southampton and Thames Valley.
The Chamber of Commerce will be able to tell you if an ATA carnet can be issued for the temporary export you plan and they will also advise you of the fee payable and the security required. They will then provide you with a signed and stamped ATA Carnet for you to take with you on your journey.
Note: Goods should be intended for return to the country they were initially exported from. They cannot be processed or repaired other than routine maintenance necessary to keep them in their original condition.