What is an ATA Carnet and do I need one to take production equipment into EU countries?

ATA Carnets were not previously needed for UK businesses travelling into other EU countries, but since 1st January 2021, firms can choose to use an ATA Carnet when transporting certain goods, including camera and filming equipment, temporarily into EU countries or transiting through the EU to non-EU countries who are part of the ATA Carnet agreement. 

How does the ATA Carnet process work?

An ATA Carnet is a customs document that can be used when importing professional equipment, commercial samples or goods for exhibitions or trade fairs, temporarily into countries that are part of the ATA Carnet system. It means that your filming equipment can pass through each country’s customs border duty free and provides the respective countries with a guarantee that duties will be paid if the conditions under which the goods are allowed into the country are breached.

A carnet must be presented each time the equipment is imported, exported, or travels through a country. The list of countries that accept ATA Carnets can be found here.  

What is an ATA Carnet document? 

A carnet document acts like a passport for the goods, which requires the name of the carnet holder, dates of issue and expiry, the carnet number, and the countries where the carnet can be used. A description of the goods is printed on the reverse. 

The ATA Carnet is filled with colour coded vouchers. Yellow vouchers are used for the country of departure and return, white for overseas customs and blue for transit. 

Each sheet has a counterfoil which will be obtained by customs officers each time it is required when passing through, entering, or leaving a country.  

How long is the Carnet valid for?

A carnet is valid for 12 months from the date of issue. During this time, it can be used an unlimited number of times for exits and entries into member countries. However, goods need to be returned to the UK within 12 months. 

Do I have to be a Chamber member to obtain a Carnet?

No, you do not have to be a Chamber member, but fees are discounted if you are. 

At Business West, our International Trade team provide a bespoke service including simplification of customs procedures and completion of all Carnet vouchers. Find out more here. 

Bristol based Plimsoll Productions review the Carnet process

Plimsoll Productions based in Bristol have used Business West’s ATA Carnet services several times when exporting filming equipment out of the country on shoots.

Commenting on the support they have received in completing Carnets, Lynn Sinclair, Head of Production said:

Business West has been very helpful, and the team are often able to turn around Carnets in less than 24 hours which is crucial for us with last-minute changes to kit and equipment. It makes our lives a lot easier knowing we can send over the information at the last minute.”

When asked about the advice she would give to companies looking to use Carnets she added:

“It’s important to make sure the Carnet information is accurate as everyone has heard of a horror story where a Carnet has been incorrectly executed and the production company has had to pay a huge fee. Business West ensured all the information was accurate, which meant we avoided paying duties and our kit arrived on time.”