Jan 2011: The ATA Carnet System

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THE ATA CARNET SYSTEM

Topics within this Article:

       1. WHAT IS AN ATA CARNET?

       2. WHAT DOES A CARNET DO?

       3. DOES A CARNET REPLACE ALL EXPORT/IMPORT DOCUMENTS?

       4. CAN I USE A CARNET FOR ALL COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD?

       5. CAN I USE AN ATA CARNET FOR ANY TYPE OF GOODS BEING EXPORTED TEMPORARILY?

       6. LIST OF CARNET COUNTRIES

      7. HOW LONG CAN THE GOODS REMAIN OVERSEAS UNDER AN ATA CARNET ?

       8. WHERE DO YOU GET AN ATA CARNET?

       9. HOW MUCH DOES A UK CARNET COST ?

 

INTRODUCTION

When sending goods overseas for demonstration, trials of professional equipment or samples the important things are to:

  • ensure no duties/ taxes are paid unnecessarily;
  • establish the responsibility for import procedures;
  • have the correct paperwork for the relevant customs authorities;
  • avoid snags and/or delays.

For certain countries an ATA Carnet takes the place of full customs documentation at both export and re-importation as set out in UK HMRC Customs Notice 236, Returned Goods Relief. It also replaces normal customs documentation and security in the country of temporary importation. Its use is not compulsory in the UK but a privilege granted by the issuing authority to individual companies on application. An ATA Carnet, when used correctly is a splendid document saving time and unnecessary expense, when used incorrectly it brings complications in the form of fines, extra clerical administration and potential penalties for misuse.

1. So, WHAT IS AN ATA CARNET ?

The word "CARNET" is French for booklet/ticket. The initials "ATA" stand for "Admission Temporaire - Temporary Admission". Therefore, an ATA Carnet is a ticket allowing the temporary movement of goods internationally. It is printed in English or French and consists of a booklet comprising: a) a list of goods in sufficient detail for them to be identified; b) an export voucher and a re-importation voucher which are used as customs entry forms in the issuing country; c) a number of temporary importation and re-exportation vouchers which are used as customs entry forms in countries where the goods are imported; d) corresponding counterfoil for each voucher; and e) transit vouchers and corresponding counterfoils (where necessary).

2. WHAT DOES A CARNET DO ?

The ATA Carnet book will include import and export vouchers for each country into which the equipment is being temporarily imported plus the export and re-import vouchers for use in the origin country. These vouchers replace: a) normal customs documents in the countries from which the goods are exported; b) normal customs documents in the countries into which the goods are imported; c) usual bank guarantees (i.e. securities, bonds or deposits) to cover import duties/taxes in the countries into which the goods are imported temporarily.

3. DOES A CARNET REPLACE ALL EXPORT/IMPORT DOCUMENTS?

No. An ATA Carnet only replaces "customs clearance forms", the regulations arising out of any import or export prohibitions and restrictions relevant to the equipment in any of the countries covered by the Carnet have to be complied with separately, e.g. export licences, import licences, dangerous goods regulations, etc.

4. CAN I USE A CARNET FOR ALL COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD ?

No. An ATA Carnet may only be used for countries which are parties to the Customs Convention on the ATA Carnet for the Temporary Admission of Goods. A full list of Carnet countries follows.

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5. CAN I USE AN ATA CARNET FOR ANY TYPE OF GOODS BEING EXPORTED TEMPORARILY?

No.

Firstly the type of export/import must be one approved by the Customs Convention on ATA Carnets. There are 3 categories of temporary imports allowable under a Carnet.

i) Professional Equipment;

ii) Commercial Samples;

iii) International Trade Fairs/Exhibitions.

Each signatory country to the carnet convention may decide to remove any of the above categories from those allowable, e.g. USA excludes Trade Fairs/Exhibitions; Canada excludes Professional Equipment; India, Mexico and Lebanon only approve Carnets for International Trade Fairs/Exhibitions and there are other countries not on the list that may accept a limited use for Carnets, e.g. Russia.

Secondly, the goods must be wholly manufactured in the EC or imported into the EC with full duty paid (i.e. "in free circulation").

Finally, the goods must be returned to the origin country in an unaltered state, therefore a carnet cannot be used for goods being repaired, modified or up-graded. d) The goods should be identifiable in some way recognisable to the customs authorities, e.g. serial numbers, batch numbers, special marking. The goods must be returned to the country of original export within 12 months.

6. LIST OF CARNET COUNTRIES

 NOTE: This is correct at the time of publication but you must check for the current valid list of countries as this article will not be updated.

Algeria

Hungary*

Norway 

Andorra

Iceland

Pakistan

Australia

India 

Poland*               

Austria*

Iran

Portugal *

Belarus

Ireland*

Romania *            

Belgium*

Israel     

Russia

Bosnia Herzevegovina

Italy *    

Senegal

Bulgaria*

Japan     

Serbia

Canada  

Korea (Republic of)

Singapore

Chile

Latvia*  

Slovakia *

China

Lebanon

Slovenia*

Cote d'Ivoire

Lithuania*

South Africa        

Croatia

Luxembourg*

Spain*   

Cyprus*

Macedonia

Sri Lanka

Czech Republic*

Malaysia

Sweden*

Denmark*

Malta*

Switzerland

Estonia*

Mauritius

Thailand               

Finland*

Mexico

Tunisia  

France*

Moldova

Turkey  

Germany*

Mongolia

Ukraine 

Gibraltar

Morocco

 UAE

Greece*

Netherlands*       

UK*   

Hong Kong (China)

New Zealand        

 

USA

*ATA Carnets are not required for most free circulation goods moving within the Member States of the EU because it is a Customs Union, so no Customs duties or taxes apply. Also, some of the above countries may limit the use of a Carnet — check with your local Chamber or visit the website: www.atacarnets.org.

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7. HOW LONG CAN THE GOODS REMAIN OVERSEAS UNDER AN ATA CARNET ?

As mentioned in (e) above, the maximum validity period of an ATA Carnet is 12 months from the date of issue. However, this time period can be reduced by any import customs authorities (to as little as a week) - this reduction in the time period overrides the previous validity period. If you are unable to comply with the time period set you will be liable for duty & tax.

8. WHERE DO YOU GET AN ATA CARNET?

Carnets are issued by Chambers of Commerce (or similar organisations approved by the customs authorities of the country in which they operate). The decision whether to issue a carnet is entirely a matter for the association concerned. In the UK, the governing association is the London Chamber of Commerce, 33 Queen St., London, EC4R 1AP (Tel: 0207 203 1843). Other UK chambers approved to issue carnets are: Belfast Birmingham Bristol Edinburgh Glasgow Leeds Leicester Liverpool Manchester Nottingham Portsmouth Southampton The Manchester Chamber of Commerce have two offices, one in Oxford St, Manchester (Tel: 0161 236 3210) and one at Ringway airport (Tel: 0161 489 3171).

9. HOW MUCH DOES A UK CARNET COST ?

The cost is divided into two parts:

i) the issuing fee; a standard charge payable to the issuing chamber of commerce, cost depends on whether you are a member of the chamber or not

ii) the guarantee/security amount. 

Because an ATA Carnet alleviates the need to pay import duties/taxes or set up overseas bonds to cover these charges, some form of security is required by the issuing chamber from the applicant before the carnet is issued to cover these charges should, for example, the equipment not return to the UK. The Guarantee amount required is calculated as a percentage of the total value of the equipment covered by the ATA Carnet; the percentage levied depends on the countries to be covered by the carnet and their level of import duty/taxes and the type of equipment.

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Next month we will be posting an article on what to do if things go wrong when an ATA Carnet is used.  Link to Feb 2011 ARTICLE

Written 22nd January 2011 by Sandra Strong MIEx (Grad) CITA, Managing Partner Strong & Herd LLP

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