Carnets to India: Are They Limited to Exhibitions & Fairs?
The answer is yes...and no. A common misconception is that, unless the equipment or goods are going to an exhibition or fair in India, they are not eligible for a carnet to India. This is not strictly true. The reason is that the exhibitions and fairs section of the carnet convention contains an expanded definition of what is eligible under that convention and that definition goes beyond just exhibitions and fairs. Under the exhibitions and fairs convention not only are exhibitions and fairs allowable reasons for temporary import using carnet but exhibits or demonstrations for cultural enrichment or temporary imports for charitable purposes may be eligible, for instance.
The Development of Carnet Acceptance in India
Carnet acceptance into India has changed and expanded since India joined the ATA Carnet system. Up until October 18th of 2005, carnets were accepted in India only for government-sanctioned exhibitions and fairs as listed by the India Trade Promotion Organization (ITPO). After that date, carnets were accepted for any exhibition or fair in India regardless of whether it was on the ITPO-approved list. This change opened up the options for using carnets into India since the exhibitions and fairs convention is far broader than its name implies.
Along with the elimination of the approved-ITPO events requirement was the elimination of the 3-page questionnaire that was originally required to be submitted when using a carnet to India. Indian customs no longer has any additional paperwork requirements to be prepared in advance along with the carnet.
Previously, carnet acceptance was also limited to a few ports of entry. While there is still a list of approved ports, that list was expanded from 6 to 8 ports on December 20th of 2007.
Recommendations for Using Carnets in India
Since India, along with Russia and China, have some particularities in how they handle carnets, here are some recommendations:
- If you are a company or organization, do you have a legal entity located in India? If so, this may assist in clearing customs if it is listed on the carnet.
- Including your legal entities in India as authorized representatives on the carnet, in addition to your freight forwarder, can be helpful. This is especially true if you use the correct, legal name of the entity on the carnet.
- Consider a foreign language translation of the General List to make it easier for Indian customs inspectors to understand what the items on the General List are.
- Consult with a knowledgeable Carnet Specialist regarding how your particular needs may be addressed by using a carnet for India. There are several clauses in the Exhibitions and Fairs convention that broaden the scope of the convention beyond a strict understanding of exhibitions and fairs as mentioned above in the cultural enrichment example.
- Remember that all carnets for exhibitions and fairs are limited to a 6 month period of validity, not the 12 months allowable for commercial samples and professional equipment.
Additional Taxes in India Not Covered by a Carnet
Occasionally, when traveling intra-country, you may encounter taxes not covered by the carnet. These are called usage taxes usually. They are typically levied when traveling between states or unions within India. Since these are not import duties or import taxes they are not covered by the ATA Carnet.