ATA carnet

ATA carnet (combination of terms “Admission Temporaire” – French and “Temporary Asmission” – English) is an internationally recognized customs document that is widely used for international operations which involve temporary admission of goods into foreign countries – that are part of the Carnet System. It can also be compared as a passport of goods that will be soon exported. Carnets admit the duty-free and the tax-free temporary importation of goods up to one year. ATA Carnets are very important tool for entrepreneurs doing business abroad.

Types of Carnets

In the U.S. there are two types of carnets issued: ATA and TECRO/AIT. TECRO/AIT carnets are used for temporary imports in Taiwan which only accepts the TECRO/AIT carnet.  ATA Carnets are used for the 87 other countries and territories that are members of the carnet system.

What do Carnets Allow you to do?

Carnets facilitate temporary imports into foreign countries and re-importation into the U.S. By presenting an ATA Carnet document to foreign customs, you pass duty free and import tax free into a carnet country for up to one year. ATA Carnets also serve as the U.S. Certificate of Registration of goods (CBP 4455) upon re-importation.

What Merchandise is Covered by Carnets?

Most merchandise can be listed on a Carnet. Virtually all types of goods and equipment can be transported under the ATA Carnet:

  • Commercial Samples
  • Professional Equipment (Tools of the Trade)
  • Goods for Fairs & Exhibitions (limited to 6 months)


Initiation of the Carnets started when the “Customs Convention on the ATA Carnet for the Temporary Admission of Goods” was adopted by the World Customs Organization (WCO) in 1961 which entered into force on 30 July 1963.

International сustoms сonventions in force

Operating under the ATA Convention, The Customs conventions affiliated to the three main categories of goods:

  • Commercial samples (CS) – The GATT International Convention to allow the importation of advertising material and commercial samples (Geneva 1952)
  • Professional equipment (PE) – The CCC’s Customs Convention which expedites the temporary importation of professional equipment (Brussels 1961)
  • Goods for presentation or use at trade fairs, shows, exhibitions or similar events (EF) – The CCC Customs Convention concerning facilities for the importation of goods for display or use at exhibitions, fairs, meetings or similar events (Brussels 1961).

These various Conventions are increasingly being replaced by international Customs Convention on temporary admission – the WCO Istanbul Convention. Over many years, the ATA Carnet system has spread from a few West European countries to most of the industrialized world, including a growing number of developing countries and emerging economies. More than 175 000 ATA Carnets are issued every year covering goods (valued at more than $25 billion).

Acceptable Carnet goods

Goods imported on a Carnet must qualify under one of three main categories: CS, PE or EF. Carnets are used by sellers and manufacturers so they can bring their merchandises – from jewelry, clothing to high tech equipment — into foreign countries. They can show them as commercial samples to potential customers or display at trade fairs and exhibitions. Almost all goods can be listed on a Carnet except items that will be used in the importing country, such as brochures and other promotional material; consumables, like food and paint; and goods being repaired, processed or leased. In summary, all items on a Carnet must leave the foreign country in the same condition in which they entered.

Benefits of the ATA Carnet

  • Carnets allow the duty-free and tax-free temporary importation of goods into foreign countries for up to one year
  • Carnets are stamped at the entry and exit points of each country visited. There is one document needed for temporary importations; there is no need for additional paperwork during the course

Exceptions: Goods requiring import or export permits, such as controlled and/or dangerous goods

  • Carnets eliminate the need to post a temporary importation bond (TIB) at every port and to arrange for its cancellation on exit.
  • Carnets reduce language barriers as most of the paperwork is completed in English once at the beginning of the travel year.
  • Carnets cover virtually all goods.

Exceptions: Consumables or disposable items and goods for repair and/or processing

Countries accepting Carnet

The ATA carnet can be used in 87 countries and territories from around the world:

Austria*Azores (Portugal)Bahrain, Kingdom of
Balearic Islands (see Spain)BelarusBelgium*
Bosnia & HerzegovinaBotswanaBrazil
Bulgaria*CanadaCanary Islands
Corsica (France)Côte d’IvoireCroatia*
CuraçaoCyprus*Czech Republic*
Denmark*Estonia*European Union
Faroe Islands (Denmark)Finland*France*
French GuianaFrench Polynesia – TahitiGermany*
GibraltarGreece*Greenland (Denmark)
Guadeloupe (France)GuamGuernsey (United Kingdom)
Hong KongHungary*Iceland
Ireland*Isle of Man (United Kingdom)Israel
Italy*Ivory Coast see Côte d’IvoireJapan
Jersey (United Kingdom)KazakhstanLatvia*
LebanonLesotho (SACU)Liechtenstein (Admin by Switz.)
Lithuania*Luxembourg*Macao, China
MacedoniaMadagascarMadeira (Portugal)
MauritiusMayotte (France)Melilla (Spain)
MexicoMiquelon (France)Moldova
Monaco (Admin by France)MongoliaMontenegro
MoroccoNamibia (SACU)Netherlands*
New Caledonia (France)New ZealandNorway
Puerto Rico (USA)Qatar (eff 8/1/2018)Reunion Island (France)
Slovenia*South AfricaSouth Korea
Spain*Sri LankaSt. Barthelemy (France)
St. Martin/Sint MaartenSt. Pierre (France)Swaziland (SACU)
Sweden*SwitzerlandTahiti (France)
TaiwanTasmania (Australia)Thailand
United Arab EmiratesUnited Kingdom*United States
Wallis & Futuna (France)

Countries ending with an asterisk are part of the European Union (EU). If goods are properly imported into one EU carnet country and re-exported from a second EU carnet country, the Carnet holder is unlikely to encounter any claims fees.

  • Iran is accepting carnets however US restrictions do not allow a US-issued carnet for Iran
  • Taiwan requires a separate carnet called a TECRO/AIT carnet.

What are the benefits and advantages of ATA Carnet?

Established under the ATA Convention and the Istanbul Convention as a trade facilitation tool, ATA Carnets cut red tape by simplifying and unifying customs border crossing regulations for temporary import and export.

With the ATA Carnet, exhibitors, salesmen, artists, athletes, TV crews, technicians, event participants and business travellers may:

  • travel through customs without paying import dutiestaxes at each customs border office
  • use one unified document for all declarations at home and abroad
  • use one document for multiple destinations and trips throughout its one-year validity
  • make advanced customs arrangements at predetermined costs

ATA Carnets cover almost everything, as defined in 11 annexes to the Istanbul Convention. ATA Carnets are mainly issued to cover:

  • goods for use at trade fairs, shows, exhibitions
  • professional equipment
  • commercial samples
  • personal effects and goods for sports purposes

Customs authorities accept ATA Carnets in accordance with the scope of application that they ratified. The goods must not go through any changes while situated in the country of temporary importation. ATA Carnets do not cover perishable or consumable items, goods for processing or repair, or certain means of transportation defined under Annex C of the Istanbul Convention.

ATA Carnets are widely welcomed by countries wishing to boost international cooperation and take full advantage of the global economy. ATA Carnets are accepted in approximately 80 countries/customs territories.