What is an ATA Carnet? 14 FAQs

Have you heard of the ATA Carnet? This “passport of goods” can be crucial in importing and exporting goods internationally. But what is it and why would you need one? In this post, we answer the most frequently asked questions about this unique document.

No matter the purpose, shipping items internationally is highly complex.

The ATA Carnet is a document that was created to simplify the process. But while many people think that its only purpose is to save money, it actually offers additional benefits that streamline the entire shipping process. This makes it a critical component in every shipping and operations manager’s toolkit.

But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s cover the basics.

What is an ATA Carnet?

The ATA Carnet, often referred to as a “passport of goods,” is an international Customs document that permits the tax-free and duty-free temporary export, import and return of nonperishable goods for up to one year.

What are ATA Carnets used for?

ATA Carnets are typically used for shipping high-value goods and consignments such as couture clothing, commercial samples, professional equipment, technology prototypes, and visual displays. However, they can be used for larger items, like vehicles, as well. The types of companies that use them include fashion, entertainment, and technology brands.

How do you obtain an ATA Carnet?

In order to obtain an ATA Carnet for your shipment, you’ll need to document a few things:

  • The destination country (or countries) the item is headed to
  • The General List (a documented list of all the items traveling on the Carnet)
  • A Carnet Power of Attorney, which will list your EIN (employer identification number) or taxpayer identification number

What is the biggest benefit of using an ATA Carnet?

ATA Carnets help you save a significant amount of money. Every country has different tax and duty rates for importing and exporting items, and if you ship items frequently, these rates can add up fast. Many people who own businesses, manage major events, and work in fashion use ATA Carnets to save on these costs and efficiently transport goods across the globe. The items must return to the original country of export within a 365 day period to close out the ATA Carnet and avoid penalties.

How does an ATA Carnet make the shipping process easier?

Aside from saving money, an ATA Carnet can aid in a simple shipping experience. For example, the U.S. has different import and export requirements and utilizes documentation such as Drop Ball Test Certificates for sunglasses or Footwear Declaration Forms for footwear. Some countries require EORI (Economic Operators Registration and Identification) numbers and HS (Harmonized Commodity) codes to classify certain products. However, if you’re using an ATA Carnet, there are sometimes less requirements, as the Carnet will cover some of those bases as the goods are returning to their origin.

How long can you use an ATA Carnet?

In general, ATA Carnets are valid for a maximum of one year from the date of issue. But you can use the ATA Carnet for multiple trips within that one-year validity period as long as each trip does not exceed one year.

Can I extend an ATA Carnet for longer than one year?

In some cases, an ATA Carnet extension is possible, but this isn’t something that typically occurs. Countries will occasionally allow an extension of an additional year, in which case the item at hand will need a Replacement ATA Carnet. This happens on a case-by-case and country-by-country basis.

Who governs ATA Carnets?

The World Customs Organization and the World Chambers Federation of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) issues ATA Carnets.

How much does an ATA Carnet cost?

The price of your specific ATA Carnet depends on the value of the item you’re using the document for. The final ATA Carnet cost will depend on the item’s total value, the number of pages submitted, and the timeline to create the ATA Carnet. As the time of travel gets closer and closer, the price gets higher, as it takes time to create every ATA Carnet, and associated costs differ in each country.

Are there other documents that do the same things as an ATA Carnet?

No. The ATA Carnet is the only international shipping document that has 74 participating signatory countries and is accepted by 100 Customs territories across the globe. There is no other comparable document.

What items aren’t eligible for an ATA Carnet?

Anything that’s perishable, consumable, or intended to be discarded while in country isn’t eligible. Also, anything that will change in value or shift in tariff classification isn’t eligible. For example, an item that needs repair and will be fixed or replaced in the destination country cannot be shipped under an ATA Carnet.

What happens if my ATA Carnet is lost?

You can purchase insurance that covers the cost of duplicating an ATA Carnet in the event the original document is stolen or lost. Your luxury logistics provider will provide information about insurance and replacement costs.

Who are the parties required to legitimize an ATA Carnet?

The entity who submits the application for an ATA Carnet (known as the Preparer) and the entity who is exporting the item (known as the Holder) are required parties who will both be listed on the ATA Carnet forms. A Power of Attorney (POA) is also required at the time of application to ensure legitimacy of the relationship between the Preparer and Holder.

What is the easiest way to get an ATA Carnet?

The easiest way to get an ATA Carnet for your eligible items is by using an experienced premium logistics company. This team of shipping experts will be able to advise you regarding eligible items, initial application, time needed to obtain the document, Carnet extensions, and so much more. These experts have handled international shipments time and time again and know a thing or two about ATA Carnets, so you can have peace of mind knowing that the tricky nuances are out of your hands.

Final Thoughts

If you frequently ship items internationally, utilizing an ATA Carnet is definitely in your best interest. Not only will this unique document help you save money on taxes and duties, but it will provide an added level of ease and convenience to your shipping experience.

Want to use an ATA Carnet for your upcoming shipment? Contact Worldnet today to get started.