ATA Carnets

An ATA Carnet (pronounced kar-nay) is often referred to as a “passport for your goods.” Essentially, it is a customs document that lets you temporarily export and import nonperishable goods tax-free and duty-free for up to a year.

We are grateful to Moira Wilson of Boomerang Carnets for much of the information contained in this article.

Each year, approximately 190,000 ATA Carnets are issued worldwide covering goods valued at roughly US$ 26 billion. With the ATA Carnet, tradeshow exhibitors, salespeople, artists, athletes, TV crews, technicians, event participants and business travellers may:

  • Travel through customs without paying import duties, taxes 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

Carnets may be used in 87 countries to defer the payment of duties and import taxes on merchandise that will be re-exported within 12 months. 

For a pdf sample of blank ATA Carnet forms click here. For a sample completed Carnet forms with instructions click here.

Click here to see the Financial Savings from using a Carnet.

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. 

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?

Virtually all types of goods and equipment can be transported under an ATA Carnet:

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

To see a complete list click here.

What merchandise is not covered by Carnets?

Consumable items such as agricultural products (food, seeds, fertilizer, pesticides), explosives, disposables and postal traffic cannot travel under an ATA Carnet.

How long is a Carnet valid for?

A Carnet is valid for up to 1 year from its issue date except for Exhibitions and Fairs which is valid for 6 months from date of issue. Known exceptions to these validity periods are: Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, and Singapore.

  • A U.S. or foreign customs official always has the right to limit the validity period on a Carnet upon inspection although to do so is highly unusual.
  • The Carnet can be used multiple times and in multiple countries during the period of validity.
  • Split shipments are allowed however items cannot be added to the General List once the Carnet is issued.

Note: Mexico, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates DO NOT ALLOW split shipments.

Can a Carnet be extended?

Technically, a carnet cannot be extended beyond the validity period. However, in some instances foreign customs may allow a replacement carnet to be issued to extend the time the goods are in the carnet country. In all cases, the replacement carnet must be applied for prior to the expiration of the original carnet.

How can I obtain a Carnet?

A carnet can be issued and delivered to an applicant within 1 day, if the application is complete and approved by 4 p.m. Central time. Same day service is available for an additional charge. Obtaining a carnet takes 4, simple steps:

How can I get more information about Carnets?

To get more information about Carnets please call the boomerang carnets® Carnet HelpLine® at (800) ATA-2900/ (800)282-2900, or email us at