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How Does the ATA Carnet Work?

Last updated on May 3rd, 2021

A standard ATA Carnet is valid for 12 full months from the date of issue. The ATA Carnets are designed to facilitate the temporary import of goods into foreign countries. By presenting an ATA Carnet at customs, you pass import duty-free and tax-free into the 100+ participating countries and territories up to the expiration date. The document is broken up into color-coded sections, each one representing a specific part of the customs transaction.


Applying for an ATA Carnet

Careful planning is essential to ensuring all documentation is handled properly throughout the application process. A standard processing fee applies to all ATA Carnets and can range from $225-$500.

To get started with the application process for an ATA Carnet, you will need the following information at your disposal:

  1. A clear purpose for why your merchandise or goods are being temporarily imported to other countries
  2. EIN or Taxpayer ID number
  3. Names of responsible parties for the ATA Carnet
  4. List of destination countries or territories
  5. A complete and detailed list of merchandise or goods being transported
  6. Desired date of delivery for the ATA Carnet document
  7. Payment method

When it comes to the specific usage of ATA Carnet document, it’s important to understand each color-coded section and to make sure that the parties involved are taking appropriate actions each step of the trip. The sections are broken up as follows:

  1. Green cover – The master section of the ATA Carnet. The information housed on the Green Cover is valid for the entire validity period of the ATA Carnet, typically 12 months, or one full year, from the date of issue.
  2. Yellow pages – This section is for U.S. CBP use and to record the exportation and re-importation of the ATA Carnet shipment.
  3. White pages – This section is for foreign country customs use and records the temporary importation and re-exportation of the ATA Carnet shipment.
  4. Blue pages- This section is used for transit operations and functions as an in-transit bond.

The yellow, white and blue pages of the ATA Carnet are comprised of counterfoils and vouchers. The counterfoils are the boxes that customs validates and leaves in the ATA Carnet as the Holder and eventually the National Guaranteeing Association’s proof of import and re-export of the ATA Carnet shipment. The Vouchers are the pages that customs remove for their records and these pages have the information of the holder, authorized representative, intended use and a copy of the list of goods attached.

Simplifying the Customs Process

ATA Carnet documents may seem a little complex to navigate, but their benefits far outweigh any initial intimidation they may cause. With an ATA Carnet, you can easily export and re-import goods to all of the participating countries and territories within the 12-month valid carnet period. This simplifies the customs process and ensures your items do not accrue any additional taxes while being transported.

It is also important to note that one ATA Carnet document can be used to export and re-import goods an unlimited number of times up to the one-year expiration date. This means goods can travel to as many ATA Carnet member countries as necessary within that period.


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