ATA Carnet

ATA Carnet

The ATA Carnet is an international customs document that demonstrates how close cooperation between business and customs can make international trade work.

What is an ATA Carnet?  

Ever wondered how teams carry their equipment across the world for the Olympics? Or maybe how F1 racing cars are taken to every Grand Prix in multiple countries? The answer is ATA Carnet, the Passport for Goods.® 

The ATA Carnet is an international customs document that permits duty-free and tax-free temporary import of goods for up to one year. 

It contains pre-prepared unified customs declaration forms to be used at each customs border offices and serves as a guarantee to customs duties and taxes. 

The initials “ATA” are an acronym of the French and English words “Admission Temporaire/ Temporary Admission”. 

Why should I use an ATA Carnet? 


ATA Carnets cut red tape by simplifying and unifying customs border crossing regulations for temporary import and export. 

Without ATA Carnet the temporary admission of goods would require going through the customs procedures established in each country:  

  • one customs declaration for every frontier passage 
  • one deposit for Customs duties and taxes at each border (cash, bank guarantee…) 

With the ATA Carnet, exhibitors, salespeople, artists, athletes, TV crews, technicians, event participants and business travellers may: 

  • travel through customs without payingimport duties, taxes at each customs border office 
  • use a single unified document for all declarations at home and abroad 
  • use one document for multiple destinations and trips throughout its one-year validity 
  • make advanced customs arrangements at predetermined costs 

ATA Carnets cover almost everything including: 

  • goods for use at trade fairs, shows, exhibitions 
  • professional equipment 
  • commercial samples 
  • personal effects and goods for sports purposes 

What are the disadvantages of not using ATA Carnet? 

  • Payment of Customs duties and taxes and the posting of a security normally required at the time of importation into each foreign country visited (this could be a temporary import bond​, a cash deposit for Customs duties/taxes​, or a capital in foreign Customs custody​). This also can possibly entail the carrying of large sums of foreign currencies. 
  • Paperwork to be filled at each Customs port passage at home and abroad, leading to unavoidable language barriers, longer processing times, and increased chances of processing errors. 
  • Multiple documents, declarations and agreements to be signed for each country visited, each bearing different rules, time allowances and various other terms of use. 
  • Each Custom will have different fees and security demands that can add up to a hefty price to pay when all totalled up. 

How to use an ATA Carnet ?

Once you have obtained an ATA Carnet, you will have different coloured paper sheets and different sets of what are called vouchers and counterfoils. The vouchers act as receipts for entry and re-export in foreign countries and are kept by foreign customs officials. The counterfoils are stamped by the foreign customs services and act as the carnet holders receipt. 

Each colour tells you who is supposed to transact that corresponding voucher and counterfoil, if the Customs of temporary admission (white) or the Customs of export (yellow). Sometimes you will also have some blue sheets when you only need to transit through a Customs territory.  

Just remember to bring your ATA Carnet so Customs every time you cross a border and complete the declaration. There are a few rules to follow to avoid duties and claims:

  • Bring back the goods to your country in the same state as they left,  
  • ensure you don’t leave of modify anything in the foreign country,  
  • respect the expiry date of your carnet and the final date for re-importation and re-exportation given to you by the customs authorities at home and abroad.  
  • Please also follow any other instructions given to you by the issuing office. 


Where do I get an ATA Carnet and where can I use it? 

ATA Carnets are issued and accepted in approximately 80 countries/customs territories. ATA Carnets are issued at national level, to contact the guaranteeing association in your country/customs territory, please consult the directory. 

Apply for an ATA Carnet now via your National Guaranteeing Association or local office