Commonly referred to as “A Passport for your Merchandise” a Carnet, or ATA Carnet, is an international customs document that enables the temporary import of goods to countries outside the U.S. without payment of duty and tax. Over 80 countries around the world are members of the ATA Council and recognize this instrument for import/export purposes. It is used to avoid paying high duties and import taxes, which can exceed 20 or even 30% on permanently imported goods.
A Carnet is generally valid for one year from its date of issuance and your goods must exit the country within that 12 month period. They must be signed back into U.S. Customs before the Carnet expires. There are cases where a Carnet can be extended, but if you have not applied for an extension and the Carnet expires before your goods have returned, a fine may be levied.
Virtually all types of goods and equipment can be transported under the ATA Carnet and they are typically used for tradeshows and special events where goods and equipment are not being sold or permanently imported. One important benefit for the use of a Carnet is that you can hold a private event anywhere within a country — such as a customer site or a resort — and not be limited to a tradeshow venue. You would not list any giveaway items or products you are selling that you know will not return to the USA.
Another example: a mobile exhibit tour going to Canada requires a Carnet to cross the border – all equipment in the trailer is documented. The driver will stop at a U.S. Customs office on the U.S. side of the border and have the Carnet (the declared goods) stamped out of the United States. He then drives into Canada, immediately stops at the Canadian Customs office just inside their border and has the document (declared goods) signed into Canada. These signatures are placed on “counterfoils” which are presented each time a Carnet enters and leaves a given country. The process is reversed when returning to the USA with the mobile exhibit.
Additional counterfoils can be purchased from the Council Offices depending on the number of times/countries you expect your products to travel to in the 1 year period. If Legacy is handling transport of your goods or the mobile exhibit tour, we can arrange for the Carnet.