An ATA carnet is suitable for a vast range of items. There are also edge cases, where a carnet may be helpful. We would suggest you talk to our specialist support staff if in any doubt.
The key is to bear in mind the underlying principle of the scheme, temporary export, where the items in themselves are not the commercial reason.
If they are going to feature in a trade show, serve as samples, or support creative, or professional skills, they should be fine. If you are altering, selling, or making money directly from items you take, a carnet may not suit.
Neither can you use an ATA carnet for goods which could not be re-exported, such as consumables, or as a way to avoid duties on permanent exports.
We have seen suggestions for this online, which could lead to seizure, confiscation of goods, or prosecution. Better to shelve the idea, accept the status quo.
When A Carnet Can Not Be Used
Goods For Sale Or Hire
If goods are to be sold whilst outside the UK, they would not normally be brought back, so a carnet is unsuitable. In odd circumstances where that could happen, bear in mind ownership conditions can apply to temporary exports.
The intent to hire is again fairly clear. You are taking your latest body scanner to demonstrate at an exhibition, fine on an ATA Carnet. The organisers have asked you to rent them two more for security use, not suited to a carnet.
Items For Processing Or Repair
A common situation for high tech equipment, foreign machinery, or forms of recyling. An ATA carnet is not suitable in these situations, although there is a special scheme covering processing or repair in most cases.
There are also unique approaches for specialist areas, such as sending gems to be cut. The recut gems are not the same, their state will have been modified but many countries have exemption schemes for cutting.
Duty exemptions for processing and repair are normal, such as inward processing regulations in the UK. So in a number of cases, there are provisions to restrict duty, or VAT payment, or to arrange refunds.
Perishable & Consumable Items
A class of goods which would not normally be re-exported, or by nature be in a suitable condition. Foodstuffs are a good example, although even longer lasting items meant for consumption will not fit with a carnet.
Botanical specimens could in principle be okay but there will be a need to meet international and local environmental controls, or licencing.
Common Agricultural Policy
A number of natural, or processed agricultural products are subject to customs duties and other charges under the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy.
Export refunds may be available to the exporter for goods delivered to non EU countries and certain internal destinations. Where a refund is claimed, a carnet can not be used, see further information at CAP export procedures (UK website).
Your Means Of Transport
Whilst a few extra rules apply, you can take horses on an ATA carnet but not the horse box you drive them in. Vehicles may be able to travel on a Carnet de Passages en Douane (CPD) or other options.
An ATA carnet can be used for the goods you take but not a vehicle, or other means you are using to move the goods, even a purpose built vehicle.
Foreign Temporary Imports
Where goods are temporarily imported into the EU under a Customs Temporary Importation Concession, you can’t duplicate the position with an ATA carnet.
A Temporary Importation Concession can be a possibility for vehicles mentioned above, along with many other items. The core point is that having taken one route, not rational, or possible to add another.
Building Construction & Repair
If you want to show your new deep digger, or pile driver at an exhibition, good candidates for a carnet. If you are taking them to create the foundations for a building, not so good.
Similar principles apply to a range of tools and materials for building projects, bringing us back to the rationale of the international ATA carnet scheme.
ATA carnets exist for trade facilitation, as much as trade itself. A customs business partnership, to ease freedom of movement, reduce hassle and cost.
If you are a professional, in many cases the equipment which backs up your skills can travel on a carnet. Where you need to show your wares almost anywhere on the planet, the system is there to help.
As with all customs requirements, there are nuances, local variations and middle ground to be found. If you need any advice, our ATA carnet support team are there to help.