The ATA Carnet is an international customs document which allows an individual traveler / business to temporarily export or import goods for commercial purposes to and from a country without having to pay duty or value-added taxes on the goods.
ATA Carnets serve as a guarantee for signatory countries against the payment of customs duties that may become due on goods that are not re-exported as required. “ATA” stands for the combined French and English words “Admission Temporaire – Temporary Admission.”
The ATA Carnet simplifies the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) formalities involved in temporarily importing goods into the U.S. and other countries. Without a carnet, it would be necessary to go through the customs procedures established in each country for the temporary admission of goods. The carnet allows the business traveler to use a 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. 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.
Foreign importers who choose to use a Temporary Importation Bond (TIB) to temporarily enter goods into the United States must file U.S. Customs and Border Protection Form (CBPF) 3461, “Entry/Immediate Delivery,” or 7501, “Entry Summary” to clear their shipment. This usually necessitates leaving the passenger terminal and going to the Cargo Entry Branch Office, or having a customs broker do your legwork for you. The importer will also need to secure a bond from a licensed surety. No forms, other than the carnet, need to be filed for goods entered under an ATA Carnet.
The ATA Carnet holder is obligated to present the goods and carnet to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) upon exportation from the United States, importation and re-exportation in and out of the foreign country, and re-importation back to the United States. Failure to complete any of these operations with the carnet may result in charges of 110% of the duty and import tax.
Domestic associations in participating countries that are approved by their government and by the World Chambers Federation of the ICC (International Chamber of Commerce) issue carnets to residents to be used abroad. The United States Council for International Business (USCIB) has been designated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection as the United States guaranteeing association. USCIB has appointed two ATA Carnet Service Providers, Roanoke Trade and Corporation for International Business DBA boomerang carnets, to issue carnets on its behalf. The guaranteeing association is held liable by that country’s customs for payment in case of a violation of the terms of temporary importation.
An ATA Carnet is valid for one year from the date of its issuance. Merchandise listed on a carnet can be exported from and imported into any of the participating countries and territories as many times as needed during the one-year life of the carnet. The carnet holder can apply for an extension which is called a “replacement carnet,” and can extend the 12-month limit of the original carnet. Replacement carnets are not accepted in all countries and must be applied for before the expiration date of the original carnet and approval is at the discretion of the foreign customs administration.
There are three categories of goods for a carnet and some countries vary on what category of goods they accept.
- Commercial Samples
- Professional Equipment
- Exhibitions and Fairs
The United States allows for the temporary importation of commercial samples, professional equipment and certain advertising materials by a nonresident individual.
Examples of goods that can be listed on an ATA carnet:
Ordinary items: computers, networking devices, tools, audio visual equipment, cameras and video equipment, electronics, industrial machinery, automobiles, gems, jewelry, sporting gear and equipment, and wearing apparel.
Extraordinary items: Van Gogh’s self-portrait, circus animals and equipment, jets, satellites, and the New York Philharmonic’s equipment.
Merchandise not covered by the three above listed categories of goods and for personal use are not eligible for a carnet. Consumable items such as giveaways, agricultural products, and disposables cannot travel under an ATA Carnet. Postal traffic is not accepted in all countries. In addition, merchandise within those three categories intended for sale or sale on approval cannot be entered on a carnet – it must be entered as a regular customs entry.
If the holder of an ATA Carnet sells, donates or otherwise disposes of any of the goods listed on the carnet, the national guaranteeing association (NGA) will be required to pay 110% percent of the import duties and taxes imposed by that country’s customs. The guaranteeing association in turn will attempt to collect these moneys from the holder of the carnet who violated the terms. If any U.S. Customs and Border Protection authority find that there was fraud involved in the importation, additional penalties will be assessed.
If goods covered by a U.S. issued carnet are brought back into the United States, the carnet serves as the customs control registration document (CF4455) and must be presented on re-importation. This is to protect the carnet holder in case of any possible claim for duties made by the foreign customs. Whether the re-imported goods are subject to duty depends on exemption in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule https://www.usitc.gov/tata/hts/index.htm and not on their status as carnet goods. See 19 CFR 141.4 for goods that are exempted from entry documentation requirements and 19 CFR 141.2 for goods exempted from duty on re-importation.
If the expired ATA Carnet is a U.S.-issued carnet, there will be no penalties or duties assessed by the United States. However, there may be penalties assessed by a foreign government if the carnet expired before the U.S. merchandise was exported from that country.
If the carnet is foreign-issued, then liquidated damages will be assessed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) due to the carnet expiring before the merchandise could be exported from the United States.
The carnet document has a green cover page which provides the names of the carnet holder and national guaranteeing association, the carnet issue date, the carnet number, the countries in which the carnet may be used and a complete description of the goods covered. Yellow sheets in the package are to be used upon exportation from and re-importation back into the issuing country. White sheets are used for the temporary importation into and re-exportation from the foreign countries. Blue sheets are used when transiting through countries.
Each sheet contains two parts – a counterfoil, which remains in the carnet and describes the actions taken by CBP Officers each time goods enter or leave a country, and a removable voucher, which contains a list of the goods covered by the carnet and serves as the required CBP document. Note: On U.S.-issued carnets only there are no yellow export or re-import vouchers).
When leaving the United States, the holder of a U.S. issued ATA Carnet presents the carnet and the covered goods to a CBP Officer. The carnet is reviewed for completeness and accuracy and the goods may be examined to ensure that they match the carnet list. The CBP Officer must first validate the section H of the green cover for the initial use of the carnet document and then certifies the appropriate exportation counterfoil. (Note: Obtaining a carnet does not release the holder’s obligation to comply with U.S. Government export controls or foreign country import controls.) Upon return to the United States, the holder of a U.S. issued carnet presents the carnet and covered goods to a CBP Officer for examination. The officer certifies the appropriate re-importation counterfoil and returns the carnet to the holder.
It is the responsibility of the carnet holder to present the carnet to each customs authority when entering or leaving a country in order that the necessary verification and certification of the appropriate vouchers and counterfoils can take place. Failure to do so may result in a claim being made. A claim is a notice from a customs authority of the country of import that a violation of the carnet system has occurred and payment of duties, taxes, and penalty are required.
When processing a foreign-issued carnet, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) must create a record of the transaction in order to protect the revenue and domestic commerce. Therefore, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer responsible for clearing the temporary importation must ensure that the port of importation, dates of customs activities, and any departure from the original list of articles, are clearly shown in the appropriate fields.
When the merchandise leaves the U.S., the Customs and Border Protection Officer must ensure that the required exportation dates are complied with, that the original list of articles agrees with what is being exported, and that the appropriate voucher is detached and forwarded to the port of importation.
Yes, per the USCIB webpage.
ATA Carnets can be used in the following countries and territories.
Reunion Island (France)
Guernsey, Bailiwick of
Hong Kong, China
Balearic Islands (Spain)
St. Barthelemy (France)
Bosnia & Herzegovina
St. Martin (French Side)
Botswana (South Africa)
Isle of Man (UK)
St. Pierre (France)
Swaziland (South Africa)
Canary Islands (Spain)
Namibia (South Africa)
Korea, Republic of
New Caledonia (France)
Cote d'Ivoire|Ivory Coast
Lesotho (South Africa)
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom (EU)
Czech Republic (EU)
Puerto Rico (USA)
Wallis & Futuna (France)
*TECRO/AIR Carnets are issued between the U.S. and Taiwan
French Guiana (France)
French Polynesia- Tahiti (France)
The listed countries and territories are Participating Parties to the ATA / Istanbul Convention that established the ATA Carnet System. Countries are added to the ATA Carnet System periodically. Visit the country’s website to which you are traveling to determine if they accept carnets. The United States acceded to the ATA Convention on December 3, 1968, and the United States Council for International Business (USCIB) www.uscib.org is the national guaranteeing association for ATA Carnets since 1969.
USCIB is located at 1212 Avenue of the Americans, New York, New York 10036-1689, Telephone: (212) 354-4480, Fax: (212) 944-0012, website: www.uscib.org, and has appointed two Carnet Issuing Service Providers, Roanoke Trade 1 (800) 762-6653 and Corporation for International Business, DBA boomerang carnets, 1 (800) 282-2900. Contact a Service Provider for further details concerning the issuance of ATA Carnets. Other questions can be referred to USCIB or the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20229. Attn: Office of Field Operations, Cargo and Conveyance Security (202) 344-3969.
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