Simplify customs clearances by using carnets if you're taking goods or motor vehicles into or out of the EU temporarily.
ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission Carnet) and CPD (Carnet de Passages en Douane) carnets provide for goods/motor vehicles to be taken temporarily into or out of the EU for purposes such as exhibiting at a trade fair or taking part in a motor sport without having to complete the customs declarations and formalities normally required. Their use is not mandatory but where they’re available they simplify customs clearances in dispatching and receiving countries that are party to the ATA carnet or Istanbul Conventions.
ATA carnets are used to claim relief under temporary admission, from the customs charges normally due on importation for goods temporarily imported for use within the EU. They can also be used to temporarily export EU goods for a temporary admission use outside the EU provided those countries accept ATA carnets for the intended use - eg for professional equipment, exhibition goods, samples, music, film and theatre productions.
CPD carnets can be used for private or commercial motor and motor sport vehicles temporarily exported from the EU to a non-EU country.
The guide provides information to help the trader understand whether or not a carnet is appropriate to them and, if so, how to apply.
You can read about VAT and excise duties when moving such goods in the guide on temporary admission.
ATA carnets - what they are
The ATA carnet is an international customs document provided for under the ATA Carnet Convention and the Istanbul Convention. It simplifies customs procedures where the goods to be used are temporarily imported or exported between countries that are contracting parties to either convention. An international chain for the issue and guaranteeing of carnets means that you don’t need to lodge securities in each and every country through which goods pass. ATA carnets also help to ensure that you don’t have to pay duties on your goods when you bring your goods back home.
- may be used for goods being temporarily imported for use in countries which are signatories of the ATA Carnet Convention or the Istanbul Convention
- may be used for goods accompanied by the holder named on the carnet - or a representative of the holder who is named on the carnet
- are a physical multi-part document, not an electronic declaration
- need to be presented every time goods are exported/re-exported, imported/reimported or transited through a country
What goods are covered by an ATA carnet?
In general, ATA carnets cover:
- publicity materials
- goods temporarily imported for display or use at trade shows, exhibitions, fairs or meetings
- recorded film and media
- professional equipment that you might need for your work, eg cameras, laptops and sound equipment
- goods imported in connection with a manufacturing operation
- instruments, apparatus or machines made available by a supplier pending delivery or repair of similar equipment
- goods for educational, scientific or cultural purposes
- personal effects and sports goods
However, the types of goods that may be covered by ATA carnets varies between contracting countries, so the carnet issuer should always be consulted before applying.
ATA carnet format
The ATA carnet consists of a cover and vouchers. You need to ensure you obtain enough vouchers for the intended journey when you request the carnet. The cover and vouchers are divided using the following colours:
- green - the cover sheet identifies the holder, any representative of the holder, the intended use of the goods and descriptions of the goods covered
- yellow - used to export and re-import the goods
- white - used to import and subsequently re-export the goods
- blue - optional blue vouchers are used when the goods transit through a country en route to a final destination
How long is a carnet valid?
A carnet is normally valid for one year and its period of validity can’t be changed. If you need to extend the length of time you can use the goods, you will need to apply for a replacement carnet before the original carnet expires.
However, not all issuing associations will issue replacement carnets, and not all countries accept them. Before requesting a replacement ATA carnet please check with the relevant customs authorities that this will be allowed. For the UK this is the National ATA Carnet Unit:
Telephone: 0161 261 7219
Fax: 0161 261 5408
If you can’t obtain a replacement carnet, the goods must be re-exported or, where permitted, declared to another customs procedure before the carnet expires. For detailed advice, contact the carnet-issuing association.
Using ATA carnets when exporting from the UK
The following definitions apply when using ATA carnets in the UK or EU:
- export - used when the goods leave the country where the carnet is issued
- import - used when goods arrive in the country where temporary admission will be claimed
- re-importation - describes the return of goods to the country where the carnet was issued
- re-exportation - describes the movement of goods out of a country into which they had previously been temporarily imported under the carnet
Over 70 countries recognise ATA carnets. You can only use an ATA carnet if it’s recognised in the destination countries, as well as any country through which the goods will transit where the carnet is used for transit purposes. If goods are in transit or are temporarily brought into a non-ATA signatories country, then normal import, re-export or transit procedures apply. Taiwan does not recognise ATA carnets, but a different scheme operates which is similar in every significant respect. Read a list of countries in which ATA carnets are valid in Notice 104.
Temporary exports from the EU
Goods which are covered by a UK issued ATA carnet and leave the UK for a non-EU country, must have the carnet and the goods presented when the goods leave the UK. Customs officers will:
- certify the green cover
- endorse and remove the yellow exportation voucher
- stamp the yellow counterfoil if you are leaving the EU from the UK (ie travelling directly to a third country)
If the ATA carnet is issued in another EU country it should be presented to customs in that country before the goods first leave that country.
Because there may be no officers in attendance at your port or airport of departure at the time you leave the UK, you must contact the HMRC Excise and Customs Helpline before leaving the UK to check the availability of officers at your point of departure.
Re-importations to the EU
When you return with the goods to the EU, you present the carnet and goods to customs at the port or airport of arrival. Customs will endorse the yellow re-importation voucher and stamp the matching counterfoil. The yellow voucher will be removed and the carnet returned to you.
If you re-import direct to the UK from a non-EU country and the goods are included in a passenger’s baggage, the carnet must be presented at the red point or red channel. If the goods are travelling as freight, they may need to be included on a Customs Clearance Request form C21.
Goods permitted under an ATA carnet
The goods you’re allowed to export from the EU to a country under an ATA carnet are those permitted by the destination country. This varies from country to country.
Goods admissible into the UK on an ATA carnet
Goods are allowed into the UK under an ATA carnet for particular uses subject to certain conditions that apply to each category. These conditions must be checked carefully before considering an ATA carnet for any particular application.
The following goods are permitted into the UK under an ATA carnet:
- goods for display at exhibitions, fairs or meetings, etc
- professional equipment for broadcasting, film making and for other trades and professions, but not for use in manufacture or construction (except hand tools) if owned or imported by a non-EU resident for their use
- advertising films
- printed and developed cinematographic film and similar media for promotional purposes
- media with recorded sound and/or images for tracking, dubbing or reproduction
- goods for tests, experiments or demonstrations or used to carry out tests, experiments or demonstrations
- anything that is used exclusively for publicity purposes
- media used for carrying data for processing
- goods in connection with a manufacturing operation where the goods are owned by a person outside the EU at least 75% of goods produced will be exported outside the EU
- replacement production equipment on free temporary loan pending delivery or repair of similar equipment as long as exported within six months
- works of art with a view to a possible sale
- personal effects for a non-EU citizen
- welfare material for seafarers travelling internationally
- sports goods for use in contests, demonstrations and training for a non-EU citizen
- goods for humanitarian purposes
- spare parts, accessories and equipment to repair or maintain ATA carnet goods
Live animals owned by a person resident outside the EU are also permitted under an ATA carnet if they’re imported for:
- weighing or treatment, with a view to purchase
- participation or touring in various kinds of shows and other entertainments
- medicinal purposes
- rescue operations
- use as police dogs or horses, detector dogs or guide dogs
Read Notice 104 on ATA and CPD carnets.
The following goods are not allowed into the UK under an ATA carnet:
- goods imported for sale or for sale by auction
- goods temporarily imported or exported for processing or repair
- means of transport temporarily imported for private or commercial transport use in the UK
- goods which will be subject to an export refund or Common Agricultural Policy refund
- alcoholic beverages, tobacco goods and fuel
Using ATA carnets for temporary import into the UK
When importing goods temporarily into the UK with an ATA carnet, you must present both the carnet and goods to customs at the port or airport of arrival in the UK. After checking, customs officers will endorse and remove the white importation voucher, and stamp the matching counterfoil.
Re-exporting goods with an ATA carnet
When you re-export goods from the UK with an ATA carnet, present both the carnet and goods to customs at the port or airport of departure from the EU. Customs officers will endorse and remove the white re-exportation voucher and stamp the counterfoil.
Releasing goods to free circulation
On occasion, you may want goods that were temporarily imported on an ATA carnet to stay in the EU. If the goods are in the UK you’ll have to explain by letter why this is the case, complete a normal customs declaration on form C88 (Single Administrative Document (SAD) to declare the diversion and pay the import duties and VAT. You may have to pay compensatory interest so you don’t gain a financial advantage over competitors who paid duty at the time of import. You must send your letter, the ATA carnet, your declaration to import the goods and method of payment for import duties and tax to the National Carnet Unit.
If you want to destroy the goods rather than re-export them you must contact the National Carnet Unit for approval. You’ll have to pay import duties and import VAT based on the value and duty rate applicable to the waste or scrap. Destruction will be at your expense.
If you’ll be diverting or destroying the goods in another EU country you must contact the customs authority in the country concerned.
ATA carnets and restricted and prohibited goods
All restrictions, prohibitions and licensing controls that apply to importing goods into the UK also apply to goods imported temporarily under an ATA carnet.
Because licensing requirements change from time to time, you should always check before importing anything whether you need a licence or not.
For information on prohibitions and restrictions, see the guide on Getting the right licences for international trading.
For information on licences, see the guide on Import and export licences for controlled goods and trading with certain countries.
How to apply for an ATA carnet
There are certain practicalities involved in obtaining an ATA carnet. You should be aware that:
- the standard service takes 24 hours, so you must apply in advance, although an express service may be available
- there is a charge for issuing a carnet
- you need to lodge security to the value of the highest possible amount of duty payable
- the way carnets are issued varies from country to country - in the UK, they are issued by chambers of commerce
If applying through the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), the fee payable will depend on whether or not you’re a member and whether or not you want express or normal (24-hour) turnaround. For ATA carnet and other fees, find an export documentation price list on the LCCI website.
ATA carnet application
Before you can apply for a carnet you need to know:
- exactly what goods are going to be used
- who’s going to be the named holder
- exits from the EU which countries the goods will be used in and which countries the goods will transit
Who can use an ATA carnet
Although the carnet will name one person as the holder, any authorised person can also use the carnet, if you:
- specify ‘the holder plus any other authorised person’ when applying for the carnet
- provide any such authorised people with an appropriate letter of authority on headed paper
Lodging security when applying for an ATA carnet
Although an ATA carnet means you don’t need to pay duty and VAT each time the goods cross a border, when you apply for the carnet you do need to lodge security with the issuing association to the value of the highest amount of duty and tax that would have to be paid on the journey if the goods were not re-exported at any point. You can do this in cash or through other guarantee schemes.
For UK issued carnets, a Carnet Security Scheme is operated by the LCCI. You pay a fee which is based on a percentage of the value of the goods, rather than having to lodge security for the entire amount of any potential duty payable.
For exporting goods temporarily to Taiwan, you apply in the same way and are issued with a document that functions in the same way as the ATA carnet, but has a different name, colour and size. You can download the EC/CPD/China-Taiwan application form and undertaking from the LCCI website (PDF, 152KB).
CPD carnets can cover the use under temporary admission of the following vehicles, both private and commercial, into certain non-EU countries:
- road motor vehicles
- motor cycles
- registered motor sport vehicles transported by trailer
CPD carnets are for use by people not normally resident in the destination country. They’re not required for the temporary import of non-EU motor vehicles into the UK but may be required in some EU countries for certain categories of vehicles. The vehicle covered by the CPD carnet can’t be hired, loaned, abandoned or otherwise disposed of without the approval of both the issuing association and the customs authority of the country visited.
If the vehicle is intended to be used in other EU countries the customs authority in that country should be contacted to confirm their requirements.
For UK vehicles exported for temporary use outside the EU, a CPD carnet issued in the UK will cover the vehicles use in the non-EU countries visited where those countries accept CPD carnets.
Obtaining a CPD carnet
CPD carnets, also known as FIA/AIT carnets, can be obtained from a national automobile association affiliated either to the Alliance Internationale de Tourisme (AIT) or the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA). In the UK, CPD carnets are issued by the Royal Automobile Club (RAC). Note that the RAC requires a minimum of 1 month to issue a CPD carnet.
RAC Carnets, RAC Motoring Services
Great Park Road
Telephone: 01603 605154
When applying for a CPD carnet you need to lodge security using an insurance scheme to cover the potential duty and taxes payable if the vehicle is not re-exported.
The period of validity, designating the period of use in the county/countries of destination, will be noted on the carnet. Failure to re-export the vehicle, prior to the expiry of the carnet, could result in duty and taxes becoming due in the country where the vehicle remains.
Using a CPD carnet
A CPD carnet is a multi-part document consisting of 5, 10 or 25 pages. One page is used each time a country is visited or transited, so the same carnet can be used for multiple visits, or for one visit to multiple countries. An additional sheet, a certificate of location, should be presented to the customs office at re-importation in the country where the carnet was first issued.
Each page is divided into three sections, used as follows:
- the lower section, the importation voucher, is removed by customs on entry into a country
- the middle section, the exportation voucher, is removed on exit
- the top, counterfoil section, is stamped both on entry and on exit
If a country is revisited during the return journey a new page is used. The carnet must be returned to the issuing organisation so their security can be discharged.
Where a CPD carnet is required
CPD carnets are mainly required in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Oceania and South America. Issuing organisations can provide detailed up-to-date information.
Contact the National ATA Carnet
If you hold an ATA carnet and you want to extend the period of validity or you have another query about the carnet you hold, you can contact:
National ATA Carnet Unit
Telephone: 0161 261 7219
Fax: 0161 261 5408
If you hold a UK-issued CPD carnet and have any queries contact:
RAC Carnets, RAC Motoring Services
Great Park Road
Telephone: 08000 468375 (+ 1454 208304)
For a review against a customs decision you should contact:
Customs Reviews and Appeals Team
HM Revenue and Customs
7th Floor South West
21 Victoria Avenue
Essex SS99 1AA
To apply for an ATA carnet, and for any queries regarding the use and validity of carnets you should contact:
The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Export Documents - Carnets
33 Queen Street
You can call the London Chamber of Commerce Export Documents Department on Telephone: 020 7203 1856.
In the UK you can obtain ATA carnets for goods to be temporarily exported from the UK from these Chambers of Commerce authorised by the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry:
- Barking (London)
- Dorset (Poole)
- Hounslow (Middlesex)
- Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Durham)
- Stanwell (Middlesex)
Notice 200 on temporary admission.