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What is a Carnet?

Carnet Definition

A Carnet or ATA Carnet (pronounced kar-nay) is an international customs and temporary export-import document. It is used to clear customs in 87 countries and territories without paying duties and import taxes on merchandise that will be re-exported within 12 months.  Carnets are also known as Merchandise Passports or Passports for Goods. "What is a Carnet?" Video

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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.  ATA Carnets are used for the 87 other countries and territories that are members of the carnet system.

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?

Most merchandise can be listed on a Carnet. Virtually all types of goods and equipment can be transported under the ATA Carnet:

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

See the complete list of Merchandise categories covered by Carnet 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.

What Countries Accept/Use Carnets?

There are 87 countries and territories that accept carnets. See a complete list of Carnet countries here.

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

  • 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:

What Does a Carnet Document Look Like?

Please see a Sample Carnet Document here

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, see the LinkedIn ATA Carnet User & Discussion Group, or email us at


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