Business tax – guidance

ATA and CPD carnets for temporary imports and exports

Simplify customs clearances by using carnets if you're taking goods or motor vehicles into or out of the EU temporarily.

Introduction

ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission Carnet) and CPD (Carnet de Passages en Douane) carnets allow goods and motor vehicles to be temporarily taken into or out of the EU (for example, exhibiting at a trade fair or taking part in motor sports) without having to complete the customs declarations and formalities normally required.

They aren’t mandatory but where they’re available they simplify customs clearances in dispatching and receiving countries that are signed up 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 in 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 their intended use.

CPD carnets can be used for private or commercial motor and motor sport vehicles temporarily exported from the EU to a non-EU country.

This guide helps you understand whether or not a carnet is appropriate to you, and how to apply if it is.

Notice 104: ATA and CPD Carnets has more information about ATA and CPD carnets.

You can also read the guidance on temporary admission and Notice 200: Temporary Admission for more information.

ATA carnets

The ATA carnet is an international customs document that was agreed in 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 signed up to either convention.

An international chain for the issue and guaranteeing of carnets means that you don’t need to lodge securities in every country your goods pass through. ATA carnets also help to ensure that you don’t have to pay duties on your goods when you bring them back.

ATA carnets:

  • are a paper multi-part document, not an electronic declaration
  • 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
  • need to be presented every time goods are exported and re-exported, imported and reimported or transited through a country

Goods covered by an ATA carnet

In general, ATA carnets cover:

  • samples
  • 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, for example 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
  • sports goods

The types of goods that may be covered by ATA carnets varies between contracting countries, so always contact the carnet issuer before applying for one.

ATA carnet format

The ATA carnet is a cover and vouchers. You need to ensure you get enough vouchers for the intended journey when you request the carnet. The cover and vouchers are divided using 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 - used when the goods transit through a country en route to a final destination

Length of time an ATA carnet is 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 one expires.

Not all issuing associations will issue replacement carnets, and not all countries accept them.

Check with the relevant customs authorities before requesting a replacement ATA carnet.

The National ATA Carnet Unit is responsible in the UK.

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.

Contact the association that issued the carnet for more information.

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

Countries where ATA carnets can be used

Over 70 countries recognise ATA carnets.

Download a list of countries that recognise ATA Carnets from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) website (PDF, 291KB)

You can only use an ATA carnet if it’s recognised in the destination country, as well as any country the goods will be transported through to the destination country.

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 doesn’t recognise ATA carnets, but operates a similar scheme.

The list of countries where ATA carnets are valid is 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 with them when they leave the UK so customs officers can:

  • certify the green cover
  • endorse and remove the yellow exportation voucher
  • stamp the yellow counterfoil if you’re leaving the EU from the UK

If the ATA carnet is issued in another EU country it should be presented to customs in that country before the goods first leave there.

As there may not be customs officers at the port or airport of departure when you leave the UK, you must contact the HMRC imports and exports helpline beforehand to make sure a customs officer will be at your point of departure.

Re-importations to the EU

When you return with the goods to the EU, give 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 given at the red point or red customs channel.

If the goods are travelling as freight and are bound for an “inventory linked” port or airport they may need to be included on an Import and export: customs clearance request (C21) form using code:

  • CPC 10 00 041 for re-exports
  • CPC 00 080 20 for re-imports

If the goods are being sent to a non-inventory port or airport you may need to complete an Import and export: presentation of goods for export (arrival) (C1601) form.

Goods permitted under an ATA carnet

The destination country permits the goods you’re allowed to export from the EU to a country under an ATA carnet.

Goods allowed 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. Check these conditions 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
  • 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
  • samples
  • 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
  • goods 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 and 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 6 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 non-EU resident are also permitted under an ATA carnet if they’re imported for:

  • dressage
  • training
  • breeding
  • shoeing
  • weighing or treatment, with a view to being bought
  • participation or touring in various kinds of shows and other entertainments
  • medicinal purposes
  • grazing
  • rescue operations
  • use as police dogs or horses, detector dogs or guide dogs

Goods not allowed into the UK on an ATA carnet

The following goods aren’t 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 the carnet and goods, 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, give 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

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 you want them to stay and 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 ATA Carnet Unit.

If you want to destroy the goods rather than re-export them you must contact the National ATA 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. You will have to pay for the destruction.

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.

As licensing requirements can change, you should always check before importing anything whether you need a licence.

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.

Applying for an ATA carnet

Before applying for 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
  • 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 - they are issued by chambers of commerce in the UK, see the ATA carnet pages of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) website for details
  • there is a charge for issuing a carnet - if you applying to the LCCI the fee will depend:
    • if you’re a member of the LCCI
    • if you want the normal or express service (if available)

You’ll also 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 pass through

You can apply for an ATA carnet online on the LCCI website or by downloading an ATA carnet application form from the LCCI website (PDF, 70KB), completing it and sending it to:

The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Export Documents - Carnets
33 Queen Street
London
EC4R 1AP

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 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 pay in cash or through other guarantee schemes.

A Carnet Security Scheme is operated by the LCCI for UK issued carnets where you’ll 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.

Taiwan

If you’re exporting goods temporarily to Taiwan apply in the normal way, you’ll be 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).

Problems with using ATA carnets or their validity

If you have any queries regarding the use and validity of ATA carnets you should contact the London Chamber of Commerce Export Documents Department on telephone: 020 7203 1856.

Extending the validity period of ATA carnets and other queries

If you hold an ATA carnet and want to extend its period of validity or have another query about a carnet you hold, you can contact:

National ATA Carnet Unit
Customs House
Furness Quay
Salford Quays
Salford
M50 3XN

Telephone: 03000 579 060
Fax: 03000 588 459
Email: atacarnetunit@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk

CPD carnets

CPD carnets, also known as FIA/AIT carnets, can cover the use under temporary admission of the following private and commercial vehicles into certain non-EU countries:

  • road motor vehicles
  • motor cycles
  • trailers
  • registered motor sport vehicles transported by trailer

CPD carnets are for people not normally resident in the destination country. They’re not needed 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 what details they need.

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.

Getting a CPD carnet

You can get a CPD carnets from a national automobile association affiliated to either the Alliance Internationale de Tourisme (AIT) or the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA).

The FIA website has details of EU member states that issue CPD carnets.

When applying for a CPD carnet you should 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 country or countries of destination, will be noted on the carnet. Re-exporting the vehicle after the carnet expires could mean 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, called 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 3 sections:

  • 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 needed in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Oceania and South America.

Issuing organisations can provide more detailed information.

Get help with ATA and CPD carnets

For general queries about using ATA or CPD carnets you can:

Customs decisions and appeals

For a review of a customs decision you should contact:

Customs Reviews and Appeals Team
HM Revenue and Customs
7th Floor South West
Alexander House
21 Victoria Avenue
Southend-on-Sea
Essex
SS99 1AA

Find out about appeals on the Adjudicator’s Office website or email adjudicators@gtnet.gov.uk for further information.