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ATA Carnet Guidelines

ATA Carnet Guidelines

Freight Right is the only resource you need to ship ATA Carnet shipments worldwide.

ATA Carnet Filing Services at Freight Right

The best part about using Freight Right’s ATA Carnet services is that you’re trusting your freight-forwarding and customs clearance to one operational body. Our in-house customs brokers will handle the filing and processing of your ATA Carnet packages for goods going to and from most major U.S. ports of entry. They will hand-deliver the package to U.S. Customs for examination and clearance, with a quick turnaround time of 24-36 hours.



What is an ATA Carnet?

ATA Carnet is an internationally-used customs document, which typically allows business entities to temporarily import or export commercial goods to and from a country, without paying duties or value-added taxes in the country of destination. These documents operate much like passports and serve as a guarantee for signatory countries against the payment of customs duties that may accrue during any phase of transportation. Carnets are widely accepted as the entry document and suffice the importer’s obligation to post security in more than 100 territories and countries across the globe.

Why should I use ATA Carnet?

While the ATA Carnet does not cover every country in the world, it is known as the sole and possibly most powerful document to simplify the temporary importation of goods into participating countries. This is especially true while transporting goods into the U.S. because having an ATA Carnet will help the importer skip over many mandatory procedures that are imposed by U.S. Customs.

Why shouldn’t I use a Temporary Importation bond instead of ATA Carnet?

While the Temporary Importation Bond (TIB) is a vital alternative to an ATA Carnet, it is known to take longer and consist of a more complicated process to obtain. Foreign importers who want to use a TIB to temporarily enter goods into the U.S. are mandated to file multiple forms with CBP and provide extensive information in regards to their imports. This normally means that the importer must hire a customs broker to do the paperwork for them and to purchase a reliable bond from a licensed surety firm. 


Alternatively, the importer can choose to do the paperwork by leaving the passenger terminal and going to the Cargo Entry Branch Office to complete the processes. It’s important to know that TIB is a complicated process, while the ATA Carnet does not require any paperwork other than filling out the Carnet itself.

What are the importer’s obligations in the ATA Carnet?

The holder of an ATA Carnet must present the goods and carnet to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) whenever they’re exporting from the U.S., importing and re-exporting in and out of a given foreign country, and re-importing back to the U.S. In the case of failure to complete any of the aforementioned operations with the Carnet, the importer will be charged 110% of the duty and import tax.

What does an ATA Carnet document contain?

An ATA Carnet document contains general and specific information about the Carnet. Its green cover page encloses the name of the Carnet holder, the date of issue, the date of expiration, the Carnet number, the national guaranteeing association (NGA), the countries in which the Carnet can be utilized, and a detailed description of the goods that are going to be covered in this file. 


The yellow sheets are used when exporting and reimporting back into the issuing country. 

The white sheets are used for the temporary importation into and re-exportation from the foreign countries. 


The blue sheets are used during the transit process through the countries. 


Each sheet consists of two parts- a counterfoil, which describes the actions taken by CBP officers every time goods enter or leave the participating country, (this is meant to always stay in the Carnet), and a removable voucher containing a list of the goods covered by the specific carnet (this is the required CBP document). 


*No U.S.-issued carnet includes yellow export or re-import vouchers.

Where can I obtain an ATA Carnet?

Each participating country has domestic associations approved by the World Chambers Federation of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) to issue ATA Carnets. 


The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has designated the U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB) as the country’s issuing association. The USCIB has appointed two other service providers like the Corporation for International Business DBA boomerang carnets and the Roanoke Trade, to carry out the issuance of these Carnets in the United States. These are just two examples of guaranteeing associations, which are ultimately held liable by a country’s customs for payment in case of a violation of the terms of temporary importation.

How long is an ATA Carnet valid for?

Products listed on a carnet can be imported from and exported into participating countries and territories as many times as needed, during a one-year period after its issuance date.

Can I extend the expiration of an ATA Carnet?

Yes, the carnet holder can apply for an extension or “replacement carnet,” extending the 12-month limit of the document. To obtain a replacement carnet, the holder must apply before the expiration date of the original carnet and must wait for its approval by the foreign customs administration. It is also important to note that replacement carnets are not accepted in all ATA Carnet issuing countries.

What types of goods can I enter under the ATA Carnet?

An ATA Carnet covers three general categories of imported/exported goods; commercial samples, professional equipment, and exhibitions and fairs. However, not all participating countries accept the temporary importation of these categories. For example, the United States allows for the temporary importation of commercial samples, professional equipment, and some advertising materials.

What are some examples of goods that can be listed on an ATA Carnet?

- Some common items that can be listed on an ATA Carnet are technological devices, machinery, clothing, tools, electronics, sporting goods, cars, jewelry, etc. 

- Some special items listed on an ATA Carnet are extraordinary, expensive art pieces, circus or Olympics animals, satellites, airplane jets, and more.

What types of goods can I not enter under the ATA Carnet?

You cannot enter any merchandise that is not covered in the three general categories of imported/exported goods for ATA Carnet. The three categories are commercial samples, professional equipment, and exhibitions and fairs.


Consumable items like giveaways, agricultural products, and disposable items cannot be transported under an ATA Carnet. Items that are intended for sale or sale upon approval cannot be entered on a carnet and must be entered on a regular customs entry.

What happens when the entered goods are not re-exported?

If a carnet holder sells, donates, or disposes of any of the goods listed on a carnet before getting the chance to re-export them, the National Guaranteeing Association (NGA) becomes liable for paying 110% of the import duties and taxes imposed by the country’s customs. In turn, the NGA will attempt to collect this money from the violating carnet-holder. An additional penalty will be assessed if the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) authority can prove that any type of fraud was involved in the importation/transportation process.

What happens when goods covered by a U.S. issued ATA Carnet are re-imported into the U.S.?

A U.S.-issued carnet must be presented to customs upon the re-importation of these goods, as it serves as the customs control registration document or the CF4455. This is done in order to protect the carnet holder, in case additional duty claims are made by the foreign customs.

What if my ATA Carnet has expired?

If the expired ATA Carnet was issued by the U.S., there will be no duties or penalties assessed by the U.S. Customs upon re-entry. However, foreign governments assess penalties if the Carnet expires before the goods are re-exported. If the carnet was issued in a foreign country, but is in the U.S. before being re-exported from the U.S., then the liquidated damages will be assessed by the U.S. Customs.

How is a U.S.-issued ATA Carnet processed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection?

The holder of a US-issued ATA Carnet must present the carnet and the covered goods to a CBP officer when leaving the U.S. After that, Customs reviews the carnet for completion and accuracy. After confirming that the carnet document is compliant, the CBP officer will begin to examine the goods to make sure that they match with what is listed on the carnet. Additionally, the CBP officer must first validate the “Section H” of the green cover of the carnet document to certify the appropriate exportation counterfoil. Obtaining a carnet does not mean that the holder is released from his obligation of complying with the U.S. government export controls, or the import controls of the foreign country. 


When re-importing to the United States, the U.S.- issued carnet holder must present the carnet and the goods to a CBP officer, who examines the information and the goods. If the carnet is accurate, the CBP officer will certify the re-importation counterfoil, returning the carnet to its owner. 


It is crucial that the carnet holder presents the carnet to every customs authority during importation or exportation. This is to make sure that vouchers and counterfoils are appropriately verified and certified. In the case of failure to do this, a claim will be made from the customs authority of the country of import. This claim will say that a violation of the carnet has taken place, and duties, taxes, and penalty payments are required. 

How is a non-U.S. issued ATA Carnet processed?

- The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) must create a record of the transaction when processing a foreign-issued carnet. This is done to protect the revenue and domestic commerce of the transaction. In this case, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer is in charge of clearing the temporary importation and must make sure that the port of import, dates of customs activities, and any departure from the original list of articles are clearly noted in the appropriate fields in the document. 

- Likewise, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer is in charge of making sure that the required exportation dates are complied with, that the original list of articles is in accordance with what is being exported, and finally, that the appropriate voucher is detached and sent to the port of importation.

Is an import or export license required in conjunction with a Carnet?

Yes. The United States Council for International Business (USCIB)  requires import/export licenses to be used in conjunction with an ATA Carnet.


ATA Carnets can be used in these following territories and countries. Note: Some of these countries may have additional requirements or limitations to their ATA Carnet packages.

United States Afghanistan Argentina Aruba Australia Austria Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belgium Belize Bermuda Bolivia Brazil British Virgin Islands Bulgaria Cambodia Canada Cayman Islands Caymen Islands Chile China Colombia Costa Rica Croatia Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Estonia Ethiopia Finland France Germany Greece Guatemala Haiti Honduras Hong Kong Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Ireland Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Kenya Kuwait Lesotho Lithuania Luxembourg Malaysia Malta Mauritius Mexico Monaco Myanmar Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Nigeria Norway Pakistan Panama Peru Philippines Poland Portugal Puerto Rico Qatar Romania Russia Russian Federation Saint Kitts and Nevis Saudi Arabia Seychelles Singapore Slovenia South Africa South Korea Spain Sri Lanka St. Kitts and Nevis Suriname Sweden Switzerland Taiwan Thailand The Bahamas Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom Uruguay Vanuatu Venezuela Vietnam

Freight Right and ATA Carnet 

Have a trade show coming up in a foreign country? Interested in obtaining an ATA Carnet? Confused about where to start? 

If you said yes to any one of those questions, then know that Freight Right is the only resource you need to make ATA Carnet shipments worldwide. 

Our experienced and knowledgeable team specialized in handling ATA Carnet shipments can help you by: 

  • Consulting and walking you through every step of the process 
  • Preparing an ATA Carnet package for you 
  • Troubleshooting your ATA Carnet packages for missing stamps, expiring or expired ATA Carnets, exporters of record, and more!




Mercury II Pilot Program launches

The World Chambers of Federation (WCF) of the ICC launched the first stage of a pilot project, aimed at digitalizing the ATA Carnet processing.
OCTOBER 20 2019

App Gets Activated in Zurich

The app was digitally activated by customs authorities at the Swiss airport in Zurich to complete an export process into Canada. This transaction was followed by yet another digital deal of exportation.

Successful Re-Imports

The goods returned or re-imported to Zurich from Canada, where the ATA Carnet App was put to the test once more. The process ended successfully.
MAY 2020

Testing Continues

The real testing phase will continue through May of 2020, with the participation of piloting countries like Belgium, China, Russia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.