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ATA Carnet Basics to Spring Forward with Boomerang

Monday, April 5, 2021

Boomerang carnets® very often answers questions about the ATA Carnet.  We regularly reach out with free webinars and receive daily inquiries about what we do.  We believe that EVERYONE should know about ATA Carnets because they are a vital flexible international trade tool and with our 30+ years of experience in the carnet business we KNOW they can be a great tool for YOUR trade, whatever that might be!  They can revitalize, cultivate growth, and enhance your brand internationally.  Carnets are utilized by a wide variety of industries, businesses, companies, individuals, and organizations.  These are the questions most asked.    

WHAT is an ATA Carnet?

The ATA Carnet is an internationally accepted customs document for temporarily exported merchandise, goods, or professional equipment.  It allows cross border movement of goods import-duty and -tax free for up to a year.  The ATA Carnet is known as “The Merchandise Passport” or “Passport for Goods”.  It can serve as the Certificate of Registration (CBP 4455) allowing goods re-entry into the U.S. duty free.  The acronym “ATA” stands for the combined French and English words “Admission Temporaire-Temporary Admission.” 

WHERE can I use an ATA Carnet? 

The ATA Carnet can be used in 87+ carnet countries and territories currently in the ATA Carnet system.  From the European Union to China.  Nearly everywhere.  Check the full list on the Boomerang website. TIP: It might be useful to know that ATA Carnets are also used by some customers travelling in and out of non-carnet countries to make clearing customs less cumbersome and time consuming.  Their gravitas as an internationally accepted Customs document is widely known, even to those countries not yet in the carnet system.  Documentary filmmakers often use them when going into non-carnet countries for that very reason—so that they can remain on schedule.

HOW can I use an ATA Carnet?  

They can be used for any of these three categories:

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

The rule of thumb is whatever goes out of the originating country under carnet must return to that originating country. We call that boomerang freight®. Most goods, equipment and merchandise can cross borders with an ATA Carnet with a few exceptions such as consumables, perishables, and postal traffic. 

Top ATA Carnet users are: Creative Screen industries / Film & TV Production, Photography, Technology, Engineering, Construction, Live Performance, Sports, Medical Devices, Drones, Jewelry, and Livestock such as horses, dogs, or circus animals.

ATA Carnets are often used to take merchandise across borders for display and “demo” purposes to land sales or service contracts.  They are also used for already contracted jobs, for instance, in the construction industry where machinery needed for a build is shipped by cargo, then returned when the job is done.

For Film Production, carnets are considered “a necessity.”  Carnets provide significant savings and ease clearing customs with expensive cameras and gear on any international shoot.  Carnets help keep you on schedule, important when shooting in multiple countries. According to people in the industry, “it’s essential.” 

Musicians use them to tour. Though they are currently stymied due to Covid, orchestras and musicians use carnets to move production items, priceless instruments, costumes, scenery, props, as well as cables, wires, scores, and computers.  It’s been said that an international tour is like “moving a small city” and with a carnet much easier.

ATA Carnets level the playing field for individuals and SMEs crossing borders with goods by providing affordable access to prospective new clients.  It works!  A great number of our customers have increased revenues by landing contracts and sales using ATA Carnets.  If you should sell goods off an ATA Carnet while in another country, you should call us immediately and we will guide you through that process.

If you are thinking about using an ATA Carnet, call us.  We can assist you with any questions you may have, just call the Carnet Helpline® 1-800-ATA-2900 |1-800-282-2900 or email us.  Also, if you decide to ship your equipment, goods, or merchandise by cargo, Boomerang Carnets has freight forwarder partners who can deliver your carnet, as well as handle your freight. 

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