What is an ATA Carnet?
An ATA Carnet, also known as Merchandise Passport or Passport for Goods is an international customs document. It allows an individual traveler/ business owner to temporarily export or import goods for commercial purposes to and from a country.
With this document, the parties are exempted from paying customs duty or value-added taxes on the goods. ATA Carnet serves as a guarantee for signatory countries against the payment of customs duties that would be levied on the goods that are not re-exported as required.
The initials ‘ATA’ is a combination of French and English words - Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission.
How does an ATA Carnet Work?
The ATA Carnets are designed to facilitate the temporary import of goods into foreign countries. Importers can present the ATA Carnet at the customs to avail duty-free and tax-free entry of goods into the participating countries and territories up to a limited period. The standard ATA Carnet is valid for 12 months from the date of issue. The document is segmented into color-coded sections wherein every section represents a specific aspect of the customs transaction.
Goods covered by an ATA Carnet
An ATA Carnet covers nearly all types of goods including ordinary commodities like computers, tools, cameras and video equipment, industrial machinery, musical instruments, automobiles, gems, jewelry, and apparel.
The customs conventions corresponding to the three main categories of goods covered by the system are as follows:-
Commercial samples as stated by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade(GATT) International Convention to facilitate the importation of commercial samples and advertising material (Geneva 1952).
Professional equipment is covered under the Customs Cooperation Council’s(CCC's) Customs Convention on the temporary importation of professional equipment (Brussels 1961).
Goods for presentation, or use at trade fairs, shows, exhibitions, or similar events as covered in the CCC Customs Convention concerning facilities for the importation of goods for display, or use at exhibitions, fairs, meetings, or similar events (Brussels 1961).
An ATA Carnet doesn’t cover consumable items such as food and agricultural products, explosives, disposables, or postal traffic.
How do I obtain an ATA Carnet?
It is easy for individuals and businesses to acquire an ATA Carnet. Domestic associations approved by the respective governments of the participating countries and the World Chambers Federation of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) issue carnets to its residents.
The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has designated the United States Council for International Business (USCIB) the country’s guaranteeing entity. The USCIB has also appointed Roanoke Trade and Corporation for International Business DBA Boomerang Carnets, to issue carnets on its behalf.
First-time users have to set up an online account or request a login ID and password from an authorized ATA Carnet customer service.
Then, they must keep the following information/ documents required for ata carnet ready:
- The purpose for temporarily importing the merchandise to the country
- Details of the EIN or taxpayer ID
- Names and details of individuals or authorized representatives who will be responsible for the carnet documents
- The list of destination countries
- Names of the countries the goods will be passing through
- The modes of transportation (outbound and inbound)
- Details of the merchandise including model number, serial number, value, quantity, weight, origin country, etc.
- The expected date of delivery of the carnet document
- The details of the card by which the payment will be made (Not needed if payment is through ACH or wire transfer)
After the account is set up and the relevant shipment details filled in, users can submit the application. Then, an ATA Carnet officer specializing in document scrutiny will review the application. If the details provided are accurate and complete in all respects, the users will receive the ATA Carnet within 24 hours of submitting the application.
How much does an ATA Carnet Cost?
There are two fee schedules; one for the initial ATA Carnet fees and the other is for the replacement ATA Carnet.
The initial ATA Carnet fee applicable to your goods will be automatically calculated and shown on the estimated fee page when you submit the application.
ATA Carnet Fee Schedule
ATA Carnet Basic Fee
The Base fee is calculated basedupon the total value of General List. Below are the base fee rates based on different ranges of general List value:-
Additional Processing Fees
You have to pay extra for expedited services and rush processing.
ATA Carnet Security Deposit and Bond
The USCIB generally requires a security/bond amounting to 40% of the total GL value. In instances where vehicles are traveling on an ATA Carnet, the security deposit is 100 to 150% of the value.
ATA Carnet Insurance Policies
Replacement ATA Carnet
Replacement ATA Carnets or Extension ATA Carnets are the ones that allow the goods to stay in the foreign ATA Carnet beyond the initial expiration date. These ATA Carnets are subject to approval and are not accepted in all ATA Carnet countries.
How long does an ATA Carnet Last?
An ATA Carnet is valid for one year from the date of its issuance. During this period, there are no limitations on the number of times the merchandise listed on the carnet can be exported/imported across any of the participating countries and territories. You can also apply for a replacement carnet to extend the 12-month period by submitting the same before the expiration date of the original carnet. However, its approval is at the discretion of the foreign customs administration.
Which Countries Use/Accept an ATA Carnet?
ATA Carnet is used in 87 countries and territories located in Europe, North America, South America, Asia, Africa and Oceania. Also, soon to be accepting carnets are : Trinidad and Tobago, Saudi Arabia and the Philippines.
You can read more about the ATA Carnet participating countries from the boomerang carnets site.
What are the advantages of an ATA Carnet?
The following are the benefits of using an ATA Carnet:-
- It eliminates the need to calculate and pay complex duties and value-added taxes.
- It simplifies the customs procedures by allowing the use of a single document for all the customs transactions.
- The ATA Carnet allows businesses to make prior arrangements and helps them understand the costs in advance.
- The ATA Carnet allows for unlimited entries/departures for up to one year.
- It facilitates re-entry into the US without having to register the goods with the US customs at the time of departure.
- It eliminates the need to file an Electronic Export Information form and the Temporary Importation Bond (TIB).
What does a Carnet Document look like?
The carnet form consist of these parts :
- Green Certificate
The front of the green cover provides information about the holder/owner of the goods and lists all the ATA Carnet countries whereas, the back green cover includes the general list of merchandise and equipment.
- Yellow Certificate
The yellow certificate sets denote the US registration of goods that will return to the country. There are no yellow vouchers in a US carnet. A yellow certificate set includes an exportation counterfoil and a re-importation counterfoil.
- White Certificate
The white certificate sets include counterfoils and vouchers and are used by foreign customs. The set includes a white importation counterfoil, a white importation voucher, a white re-exportation counterfoil, and a white re-exportation voucher.
- Blue Certificate
The blue certificate sets which include counterfoils and vouchers are used by foreign customs to track the movement of transit goods that are within their borders but have not cleared customs. The set includes two blue transit counterfoils and two blue transit vouchers.
You can know more about what does a carnet document look like from HERE.
ATA Carnet V/s Temporary Importation Bond (TIB)
ATA Carnets and TIBs are not adversaries. At times, their operative spaces do overlap. For instance, you can file for a TIB while your goods are still under the jurisdiction of an ATA Carnet when you have to keep them in the country for a longer period than allowed by a carnet. However, at times, you have to choose between the two. The following are the major points of difference between the two.
- The ATA Carnets are issued by a company from where the export originates.
- Three broad categories are covered under the ATA Carnets. However, consumable items, explosives etc. are restricted.
- An ATA Carnet is usually valid for 12 months except for goods that are used in exhibitions and fairs in which case it is valid for six months from the date of issue. Although an extension is not possible, the applicant can file for a replacement carnet.
- The applicant has to pay a one-time annual fee to obtain an ATA Carnet.
- There is no deposit involved.
- Only a US citizen can apply for an ATA Carnet.
- The TIBs are issued in the destination country.
- There are 14 specific sub-headings.
- The TIBs are valid for 12 months with possible extensions for up to two more years by sending a written request to CBP at the end of each year.
- New bonds are needed for every country.
- The TIBs have limited use within the issuing period.
- The applicant is allowed to claim a full refund of the deposit.
- The applicant need not be an American citizen to apply for TIBs.
FAQs on ATA Carnet
1. How long does it take to get an ATA Carnet?
If the application is complete and accurate in all respects, an ATA carnet can be issued and delivered to an applicant within one day in most cases. Same-day services can be availed for an additional charge.
2. Can an ATA Carnet be extended?
An ATA Carnet cannot be extended. You can apply for a replacement carnet before the expiration date of the original documentation.
3. What happens if the entered goods are not re-exported?
If the entered goods are not re-exported, the national guaranteeing association(NGA) becomes liable for paying 110% of the import duties and taxes imposed by the customs. The NGA will then try to collect the money from the holder of the carnet. An additional penalty is imposed if the CBP proves fraud during the importation and transportation process.
4. What if my ATA Carnet has expired?
No duties or penalties are assessed upon re-entry if the expired ATA Carnet was issued in the US. However, foreign authorities may levy penalties if the carnet expires before the goods are re-exported. The liquidity damages are assessed by the US Customs if the carnet was issued outside the US but is in the US before re-exportation.
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