What is a Carnet?


Carnets, commonly known as “Merchandise Passports”, are international customs documents that simplify customs procedures for the temporary importation of various types of goods. In the U.S., two types are issued: ATA and TECRO/AIT Carnets.

ATA Carnets ease the temporary importation of commercial samples (CS), professional equipment (PE), and goods for exhibitions and fairs (EF). They facilitate international business by avoiding extensive customs procedures, eliminating payment of duties and value-added taxes (minimum 20% in Europe, 27% in China), and replacing the purchase of temporary import bonds.

TECRO/AIT Carnets, used between the U.S. and Taiwan only, appear similar to, and serve the same function as the ATA Carnet. TECRO/AIT Carnets result from a bilateral agreement between the US and Taiwan, covering only commercial samples (CS), and professional equipment (PE). Merchandise entering countries in addition to Taiwan may also be accompanied by an ATA Carnet.

Benefits of Carnets

  • Carnets save time, effort, and money.
  • One document – one application.
  • Good for one year.
  • Accepted in 80 countries and territories.
  • Covers commercial samples, professional equipment, and goods for exhibitions and fairs.
  • Eliminates duties, taxes, and temporary importation bonds (TIBs).
  • Payment in U.S. Dollars.
  • Paperwork in English.
  • Easy exit – easy re-entry.
  • No uncertainty, no hassles.

(Be aware that Carnets do not exempt holders from obtaining necessary licenses or permits.)

Merchandise Covered by Carnets

Virtually all goods, including commercial samples, professional equipment, and items for tradeshows and exhibitions, including display booths.

Ordinary goods such as computers, tools, cameras and video equipment, industrial machinery, automobiles, gems and jewelry, and wearing apparel.

Extraordinary items, for example, Van Gogh Self-portrait, Ringling Brothers tigers, Cessna jets, Paul McCartney’s band instruments, WorldCup class yachts, satellites, human skulls, and the New York Philharmonic.

Carnets DO NOT cover: consumable or disposable goods (e.g., food and agriculture products) giveaways, postal traffic or goods subject to repair.

Carnet Countries  &  Non-Carnet Countries

Countries are added to the ATA system periodically. Call to determine if the country to which the goods are traveling accepts Carnets.

*TECRO/AIT Carnets are accepted for goods traveling between Taiwan and the U.S. only.

Fees and Processing Time

There are three basic components to the Carnet application process:

  1. General list
  2. Carnet application, and
  3. Security deposit

Basic processing fees are determined by the value of a shipment. Fees range from $235-$475 and the normal processing time is between one and two working days, if the application and security deposit are received according to the Service Provider’s guidelines.

Payment terms are established by each Service Provider. Contact them for details.

As the National Guaranteeing Association, USCIB is required to take security, usually 40% of shipment value, to cover any customs claim that might result from a misused Carnet. Acceptable forms of security are certified check or surety bond. Cash deposits are returned in full and surety bonds are terminated upon Carnet cancellation. Service Providers are specialists in Carnet bonds and can provide detailed information about costs.

To apply for a Carnet:

Please contact one of our Service Providers

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