Information on delaying customs payments may be useful, although for temporary exports, duties and taxes can be entirely avoided.
For those who only export on a permanent basis, the temporary export of goods may seem like peripheral activity but this has always been significant within the UK economy. All the more so following Brexit and a need for new procedures to enter the EU.
Few nations report temporary exports by method, such as using an ATA carnet, goods for repair, or processing, vehicle carnets, or other schemes. As an aggregate figure, non permanent export can however make up 30% to 40% of the total in western countries.
In the UK, with over £300 billion worth of goods outward bound each year, that is a substantial figure. For a good proportion of businesses, having systems in place to facilitate temporary exports is essential.
Please bear in mind that customs rules vary from country to country. With the exception of ATA carnets, which operate under an international treaty, you will find significant variations in implementation.
Perhaps the next most consistent approach relates to items for processing, or repair, where many countries allow avoidance of duty. In the UK, this is known as outward processing relief and as with much since Brexit, applies to EU destinations.
Taking vehicles overseas temporarily may also bring in a standard approach. Where the vehicle is your means of transport, a different type of carnet called a CPD carnet covers a number of countries, although is not needed across most of Europe.
Agreements are also generally in place where you use a hire vehicle, which originated in one country and was dropped off in another. Similar approaches can operate for medical, or biological materials, certain educational items, testing, or research.
You can also find schemes for niche requirements, from items related to protecting patents, to those which are to be consumed but are free. Knowing your sector, UK rules and any at your destination may help, although most business travel has a clearer path.
ATA Carnets & Options
A number of the categories mentioned above, such as goods for processing, or repair, or items which are consumable can not travel on an ATA carnet. The carnet system is intended for goods which will return in the same state as they left.
The range is still substantial, normally split into the categories of professional equipment, commercial samples and goods for presentation, such as at trade fairs. Most business items you can think of will fit into a category.
ATA carnets are normally valid for twelve months, can be extended in most cases and used for multiple trips. They are an internationally recognised customs document, which remove the need for duties to be paid and act as a passport for your goods.
An alternative you may see mentioned is a duplicate list, which seems a reasonable option to save the cost of a carnet, although is generally not. Additional admin can consume the saving and duplicate lists are not the same as an ATA carnet.
The goods range is limited, they must be in accompanied baggage and a duplicate list will not assist with customs procedures. You need to complete the destination’s import and re-export documentation and lodge financial security.
The Practical Solution
Temporary exports are an integral part of business, with the journey often subsidiary to the task in hand. The need is for this to be a hassle free event, which does not cause delay.
The .gov.uk website states “If you’re taking goods to another country temporarily for business reasons…you can usually get an ATA Carnet to avoid paying duty.” Local and national chambers, trade bodies, or university admin departments back up the choice.
At a time when there are sufficient issues, from the pandemic and restricted travel, to changes following Brexit, having an internationally recognised document for your goods makes sense and is the most viable answer.
ATA carnets have been the method of choice across the globe for many years and remain so, along with now applying to EU countries. As with other changes such as visa requirements, they have become a requirement for EU travel.
For all destinations, a carnet avoids the need to go through each country’s customs procedures, or pay import taxes. By all means see more on ATA carnets in our information centre and the way they facilitate temporary exports.