Guidance

How to use your ATA Carnet

Find out how the ATA Carnet works, what to do at customs, and what happens if your goods are lost, destroyed or stolen.

ATA Carnet lets you temporarily export commercial samples, trade fair or exhibition goods and professional equipment to countries that are part of the ATA Carnet system. Find out how to apply.

How ATA Carnet works

You must show the carnet to customs each time you import or export your goods or pass through a country including the UK.

You must also show the carnet to customs each time you enter or exit Northern Ireland.

If customs in the country you visit are not satisfied that the goods have been re-exported or you’ve not used them correctly, they’ll make a claim to the carnet association in their country for payment of the customs charges due.

Goods should be meant for return to the country you first exported them from. You cannot process or repair them other than routine upkeep to keep them in their original condition.

Give accurate descriptions of your goods (photographs of the item help identification). The description on the carnet should be thorough enough for customs authorities to identify them.

If the details on the carnet are not clear, the importing customs authority can:

  • refuse to accept it
  • delay releasing your goods until you make a customs declaration

If you alter the details after your carnet has been issued, customs authorities can refuse to accept it.

If there are any problems with the carnet, you may have to pay Customs Duty, taxes and a penalty.

Check what to do if your goods or carnet are lost, stolen or destroyed.

If you do not present the ATA Carnet when leaving the country you visited

If you do not present the carnet, customs in the country of temporary import may ask you to pay duty or ask for proof of the current location of your goods. If you’re asked for proof of re-export, contact customs in the country where the goods are located.

For goods that you’ve returned to the UK you should contact the National ATA Carnet Unit.

As long as you present the carnet when you re-import your goods to the UK, the unit can issue you a certified copy of the re-import voucher. If the right voucher is not available or was not presented at re-import, they may be able to arrange for you to present the goods for inspection so that we can confirm that the goods are in the UK.

There may be a charge for each inspection.

What makes up the ATA Carnet

Each carnet is made up of:

  • a cover
  • vouchers
  • grouped counterfoils

You can add extra sheets if there’s not enough space on the cover or on the vouchers to show the details of all the goods you want to cover.

The carnet can include any number of vouchers, either:

  • to move goods between many countries before their return
  • for multiple trips using the same carnet

The cover and vouchers are printed on coloured paper.

Green

The cover sheet shows:

  • the holder and their address
  • the holder’s representative
  • how you mean to use the goods
  • which countries you can use the carnet in
  • how long it’s valid for

This front cover must be endorsed by the issuing association and signed by the carnet holder - it will normally be certified by customs in the country of issue unless you’ve made other arrangements.

Yellow

Export and re-import vouchers, corresponding counterfoils are printed on a separate yellow sheet.

White

Import and re-export vouchers, corresponding counterfoils are printed on a separate white sheet.

Carnets may also contain blue vouchers.

The back of the green front cover and each voucher contains the ‘general list’ of the goods your carnet covers.

Each voucher also contains a declaration that the holder or your representative must complete and sign each time you show the carnet at export, import, re-export and re-import, including transport if that applies.

The customs authorities will stamp and take the vouchers, and stamp the corresponding counterfoil on your carnet and give you that back.

How long carnets are valid for

Your carnet is valid for up to 1 year from the date of issue.

Once a carnet is issued, you cannot change its period of validity.

If you need to use your goods for longer, you’ll need a replacement carnet.

Before your carnet expires

Find out if you can use a replacement by contacting both the:

  • association who issued your carnet
  • customs authority where your goods are located

You must do this before your original carnet expires.

Not all issuing associations will give replacements and not all countries will accept them. Get written advice from the customs authority where your goods are located to avoid misunderstandings later. You should also check if the replacement carnet needs endorsing by both:

  • customs in the issuing country
  • the association who issued your carnet

If the goods are in the UK under the cover of a non-UK issued carnet contact the National ATA Carnet Unit.

Tell them how much longer you want to use the goods for, and check that they’ll accept a replacement carnet. If they will, you should then contact the association that issued your original carnet.

The replacement must be dated before the previous carnet expires.

When the replacement has been issued, send it together with the original carnet, to the National ATA Carnet Unit.

They’ll return both carnets to you after they’ve noted the original carnet:

  • certifying that they’ve issued you a replacement carnet on the re-export voucher (they’ll keep the voucher)
  • with the replacement carnet details on the re-export counterfoil

On the replacement carnet, the unit will certify the import voucher, they’ll also:

  • note the original carnet number
  • enter the final date for re-export shown on the original carnet plus the extra period that the replacement will cover (the goods will not be allowed to remain longer than would be allowed under normal temporary admission rules)
  • keep the import voucher
  • certify the import counterfoil noting the original carnet number

What to do if you cannot get a replacement ATA Carnet

You’ll need to either:

In some cases, you may be able to transfer the goods to Special Procedures for relief from customs charges.

Using a carnet as a transit document

You can use a carnet as a transit document. In this case, you’ll use the blue vouchers. This can make transit requirements simpler as:

  • the country where you export your goods from can issue the carnet
  • you can use it as a transit document instead of normal customs documents in participating countries on the way to where you’ll finally use them

You may need blue transit vouchers in some countries to cover either:

  • the movement from their frontier to the office where they’ll endorse your white import voucher
  • taking goods in and out of an exhibition

The issuing association can advise you which participating countries either:

  • accept these vouchers
  • need you to use these vouchers

Customs prohibitions and restrictions

Using an ATA Carnet does not remove obligations to comply with:

  • licensing controls
  • requirements for restricted or prohibited goods

Check the rules for:

Include a cross reference to any Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species document or licences on the back of the green cover sheet and on the general list for each voucher included in your carnet.

Transferring the benefit of a carnet to another person

The carnet holder and the person you’re transferring the carnet to should contact the National ATA Carnet Unit.

If the unit approve, the carnet holder and the person you’ll transfer the carnet to, should contact the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry to get help requesting a replacement carnet.

The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry will send the request to the issuing association in the country where the replacement carnet holder is established or resident.

When the replacement carnet has been issued, the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry will pass it to the person that the carnet is being transferred to. The original carnet holder and the replacement carnet holder should then send their carnets to the National ATA Carnet Unit. If they’re satisfied they’ll:

  • note the registration number of replacement carnet on the white re-export voucher on the original carnet, then certify and detach the white re-export voucher on the original carnet
  • note the registration number of the original carnet and final date for re-export on the yellow import voucher and counterfoil of the replacement carnet then certify and detach the yellow import voucher on the replacement carnet
  • return the original and replacement carnets to their respective holders

The holder of the original carnet must make sure they immediately return their carnet to the association that issued it to discharge their obligations.

UK-issued ATA Carnets

Issuing an ATA Carnet for goods in the Channel Islands

Channel Islands goods are treated as a non-UK country for the purposes of ATA Carnets, the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry issue carnets for companies based in the UK and Channel Island based companies.

How to temporarily export goods

Leaving the UK

The first time you use a carnet it needs to have the green front cover stamped by a customs official where you bought the carnet.

Make sure you’ve filled in all the sections of the carnet needed, including box F of the yellow export voucher. You will need to present the carnet and goods to the customs officials.

When you leave the UK the cover of the carnet and paperwork for temporary export will need to be completed by the customs official at the UK port or airport of departure.

You can phone the imports and exports general enquiries helpline before departure to get a contact number for the port or airport of departure to check when an official will be available. They’ll tell you about alternative arrangements if necessary.

The customs official will:

  • check and certify the green front cover
  • check, stamp and detach the yellow export voucher
  • complete and stamp the yellow export counterfoil
  • return the carnet to you

If the goods are exported as freight you may also need to include them on an Import and export: customs clearance request (C21) form.

Failing to present the ATA Carnet when leaving the country you visited

If you do not present the carnet it will not be discharged. Customs in the country of temporary admission may request payment of duty or ask for proof of the current location of the goods. If you’re asked for proof of re-export you should contact customs in the country where the goods are located.

If the goods have been returned to the UK you should contact the National ATA Carnet Unit.

If you correctly presented the carnet at re-import, the unit can issue a certified copy of the relevant re-import voucher. If the voucher was not available or not presented at re-import the unit may be able to arrange for you to present the goods for inspection by a customs office.

If the customs office is satisfied they’ll issue written confirmation, that the goods are in the UK, there may be a charge.

How to re-import the goods to the UK

You complete box F on the yellow import voucher when you present the carnet and goods to customs at the port or airport of arrival in the UK. Customs will check and endorse the yellow re-import voucher and stamp the matching counterfoil.

If goods are included in a passenger’s baggage and re-imported to the UK, the carnet must be presented at the red point or channel.

Goods arriving as freight in the UK may also need to be included on an Import and export: customs clearance request (C21) form, the carnet must still be presented to a customs official at the place of arrival.

Re-importing goods in more than one consignment

Separate vouchers are needed for each consignment. If you know before applying for the carnet that the goods will return in more than one consignment, make sure you get enough vouchers or contact the association that issued the carnet as soon as possible.

Each voucher must clearly show the item numbers from the general list which are being re-imported at the time.

Not returning the goods to the UK

You’ll need to contact the customs authority in the country where the goods will remain to complete any customs documents they require and for them to note on the carnet which items are not being returned.

As the goods are no longer a temporary export from the UK, you’ll also need to complete a C88 (SAD) export declaration in UK to replace the temporary export made under the carnet.

Send the C88 (SAD) and your carnet to the National ATA Carnet Unit for clearance. The unit will note the items that will not be re-imported and return the carnet to you.

ATA Carnets issued outside the UK

How to import goods using the carnet

You’ll:

  • present the carnet and goods to customs at the port or airport of arrival in the UK
  • make sure you have completed box F of the white import voucher

If the customs officials are satisfied they will:

  • endorse and remove the white import voucher
  • stamp the matching counterfoil

If goods are imported to the UK and they’re included in passenger’s baggage, the carnet must be presented to customs officials at the red point or red channel. Goods arriving as freight may also need to be included on an Import and export: customs clearance request (C21) form, the carnet must still be presented to be stamped.

How to re-export the goods using the carnet

If you’ll:
Leave the UK. Present the carnet and goods to a customs official at the port or airport of departure from the UK. You can phone the customs helpline prior to departure to get a contact number for customs at the port or airport of departure to check when an officer will be available. They will advise you of alternative arrangements if necessary.
A customs official will stamp and detach the white re-export voucher, stamp the matching counterfoil and return the carnet to you.
Re-export the goods direct from the UK as freight. In addition to the above you may also need to complete a Customs Clearance Request on form C21 to clear inventory records, on the C21 quote CPC 10 00 052.

Re-exporting the goods in more than one consignment

Any additional vouchers must be received before the first goods are re-exported and presented with the carnet and a letter explaining the situation. You’ll need separate vouchers for each consignment.

Releasing the goods to free circulation

Notify the National ATA Carnet Unit as soon as you know the goods will not be re-exported, do not wait until the carnet is due to expire.

Confirm with the National ATA Carnet Unit whether you will be submitting a C88 (SAD) declaration to Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF), Customs Declaration Service (CDS), or if you want the unit to submit a claim against the carnet through the international guarantee chain to the LCCI.

Instance Action
As the goods will not be re-exported. Customs charges will become due. This applies to all types of goods except those imported for display or use at an exhibition, fair, meeting or similar event, where they are:
consumed, destroyed or distributed free of charge to the public at the event, and
the quantity corresponds to the nature of the event, the number of visitors and the extent of the carnet holders participation at the event.
The customs charges due. Will be based on the value of the goods under normal valuation rules that apply in the UK.
If you want to make a C88 (SAD) declaration. This can be made manually for input by Customs (CIE) or electronically (DTI) if you have access to either CHIEF or CDS. If you do not have access to CHIEF or CDS you can use an agent to submit the full declaration on your behalf.
If you’re submitting a CIE entry. Send your C88 (SAD) together with the carnet to the National ATA Carnet Unit.
If you have made a DTI entry. Send the carnet, a copy of the C88 entry and E2 acceptance advice to the National ATA Carnet Unit. The documents must show the cleared status of the goods as proof of acceptance by CHIEF or CDS.

The National ATA Carnet Unit will note the details of the diversion on the re-export voucher and remove it. They will also note details of the C88 entry on the re-export counterfoil and return the carnet to you. They may refuse to accept the use of carnets if you regularly divert goods and you’ll have to submit a full customs declaration on form C88 (SAD).

Contacts

National ATA Carnet Unit

HM Revenue and Customs
National ATA Carnet Unit
Ralli Quays
3 Stanley Street
Salford
M60 9LA

Telephone: 0300 322 7064
Email: atacarnetunit@hmrc.gov.uk

Imports and exports general enquiries

Phone the imports and exports general enquiries helpline

Use the customs online enquiry form

Write to:

HM Revenue and Customs
CITEX Written Enquiries Team
Local Compliance S0000
Newcastle
NE98 1ZZ

You can also visit the International Chamber of Commerce website.

Published 11 October 2019
Last updated 23 December 2020 + show all updates
  1. The guidance has been updated due to UK transition.

  2. First published.