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HMRC internal manual

ATA/CPD Carnets Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
, see all updates

Official procedures and controls

Assurance objectives
Method of control
Extent of official control
Mandatory controls
Scheme of control for temporarily imported/exported goods
Appealable decisions
Civil penalties


This section sets out the framework within which the carnet system operates. It gives basic procedures for control and assurance and sets out guidance to assist in the exercise of effective control.

Carnets generally replace the normal customs declarations and are controlled by the offices of export and entry and the National Carnet Unit (NCU).

{#assurance}Assurance objectives

You need to ensure that:

  • laws, policies and procedures relating to carnets are complied with
  • departmental resources are used economically, efficiently and effectively in controlling carnets
  • own resources and compensatory interest are brought to account in a timely manner timely.

Inland assurance of ATA and EU/CPD/China-Taiwan carnets is carried out by NCU, see ATACPD09000.

{#method}Method of control

Neither the ATA nor Istanbul Conventions or EU legislation specifies detailed methods of control beyond the removal and matching of vouchers. However, controls must satisfy the general requirement to manage customs and excise revenues imposed by CEMA 1979 Section 6(2).

HMRC must be able to demonstrate to EU officials and auditors that positive action has been taken to:

  • determine and continually review risks (a summary of potential risks is at ATACPD13000)
  • bring customs duty, import VAT and customs debts to account accurately in a timely manner.

{#extent}Extent of official control

As the ATA Carnet is a paper based method of declaration it is important that the vouchers and counterfoils are correctly completed. This places an equal obligation on the Department to exercise control accordingly; for example, by ensuring that vouchers removed from carnets are forwarded to the National Carnet Unit (NCU) without delay.

Within these constraints, the amount of resources to be used in the control of carnets is the responsibility of individual regions. You should exercise judgement as to the level of control to be carried out, for example, whether or not to examine the goods. In making these decisions, you should consider the amount of potential revenue risk involved.

{#mandatory}Mandatory controls

The objective of this guidance is to offer advice and guidance rather than prescription. However, the legal basis of the carnet system is not always so flexible and there are some functions that must be carried out to allow the procedures to work as well as for control to be effective. Where something must be done, it is emphasised within the text.

{#scheme}Scheme of control for temporarily imported/exported goods

The control structure for ATA, EC/CPD/China-Taiwan and CPD carnets is given under the specific sections of this guidance. See ATACPD04000, ATACPD11000 and ATACPD12000.

{#appealable}Appealable decisions

The refusal to issue a carnet by the issuing body is not an appealable decision under customs legislation.

Customs refusal to certify or accept a carnet already issued is an appealable decision. Where you make such a decision, you will have to explain the reasons behind your decision, in writing if necessary, and should in all cases make a note of all refusals, including reasons, in case of later appeals.

The appeals procedure is covered in ATACPD20000. 

{#civil}Civil penalties

The civil penalty procedures introduced on 1 December 2003 do not apply to ATA, CPD or EU/CPD/China-Taiwan carnet holders.

As carnet holders are not normally regular importers/exporters, it was thought inappropriate to extend civil penalties to such traders.