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Are There Any Alternatives to an ATA Carnet for Temporary Exports?

Last updated on April 6th, 2021

The ATA Carnet is a highly beneficial tool for making temporary exportation, but it is not a requirement. Every ATA Carnet country has alternative options for temporary entry. In general, when entering goods into a foreign country on a temporary basis, in order to avoid paying duties and taxes, there must be some form of financial guarantee provided to the country of importation to protect their financial interests and ensure fair commercial practices as maintained. This financial guarantee may come in many forms such as a cash deposit, bank guarantee, or surety bond. Whatever the form the financial guarantee takes, it is ultimately the importer’s responsibility to pay damages to the country of temporary importation if the commercial  items they enter into customs do not leave the country in the same form they entered. 


Should Your Business Use an ATA Carnet?

As a business, the choice is yours as to whether or not you obtain an ATA Carnet for temporary exports. An ATA Carnet is an international customs document that allows for duty-free clearance for temporary imports and exports into more than 100 different countries within Europe, North America, South America, Asia, Africa and Oceania. 

But if you are looking to see if there are any alternatives to an ATA Carnet for temporary export, you have some options. These options vary by country, but typically are as follows: 

  1. The temporary export will require proof that items are being used for business purposes
  2. Some form of financial deposit for the potential duties and taxes that would be collected for the merchandise
  3. Temporary import bonds (TIB) or other forms of financial security 
  4. The presentation of a U.S. Customs Certificate of Registration Form 4455

Items that typically qualify for duty-free entrance include vehicles, aircrafts, and boats intended for exhibition or competition but not for sale or use in public traffic, trade show materials (excluding any handouts), repair tools, video equipment, machinery, clothing, jewelry and more. In general, the items exported have to be for commercial, professional or exhibition use only. 



While you don’t have to choose an ATA Carnet, and no country explicitly requires it, there are some benefits you might want to consider. Obtaining a Carnet is a simple process and can be done prior to travel. It is a document that costs a small fee to ensure items will be exported and re-imported duty and tax-free back into the United States. It also is valid over the course of one year and can be used for multiple trips to ATA Carnet countries. 


Ultimately it is a decision each business has to make as to whether or not to obtain an ATA Carnet for temporary exports, but it’s important to understand the pros and cons of all the options before making a choice. 


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