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What is an ATA Carnet?

An ATA Carnet is an international customs document that provides duty and tax free customs clearance for temporary imports into foreign countries. ATA Carnets simplify the entry by eliminating the need to post some form of financial guarantee, i.e., a Temporary Import Bond. ATA Carnets are recognized in over 100 destinations for virtually all types of goods, whether hand-carried or cargo-shipped.

The ATA Carnet doesn’t only reduce costs; it also facilitates customs clearance in both the U.S. and foreign countries and is valid on multiple trips for up to one year. It covers a broad range of merchandise including trade show booths, personal computers, satellites, industrial machinery, diagnostic equipment, jewelry, photographic and video equipment, repair tools, live animals, rare gems, vehicles and more. And there are no surprises! ATA Carnet fees are paid prior to your departure so you know the costs before you leave. An added bonus, the ATA Carnet can also be used in place of the U.S. CBP form 4455, Certificate of Registration, which allows you to register your goods with the U.S. CBP when traveling to non-ATA Carnet countries.

Obtaining an ATA Carnet is a quick and easy process. You can register for an account here. Once your registration is complete, you will receive your login information and can easily obtain an ATA Carnet using DB Schenker eCarnet application system.

To start an application, you’ll need to know the full legal name of the holder (the company that will be named on the ATA Carnet), the Tax ID or FEIN number, the physical address (ATA Carnets cannot show a P.O. Box) and holder contact information.

What can go on an ATA Carnet?

ATA Carnets cover virtually all types of merchandise for commercial use, whether it’s ordinary goods used in the course of business or whether it’s something unique or exotic, such as a rare piece of art or live animals. Merchandise listed on an ATA Carnet typically fits into one or more of the three categories listed below.

Commercial Samples include any and all items which are temporarily imported for the purpose of demonstration or for the solicitation of orders. Examples might include a heart monitoring system, jewelry, fashion garments, pipes and fittings or goods to be exhibited at a foreign trade show or conference.

Professional Equipment is typically considered “tools of the trade” and include equipment or goods needed to work while in a foreign country. Examples include equipment for the press or for television; scientific, mining, engineering, electrical, surgical, entertainment and sporting equipment, such as racecars and boats; and exhibition booths used to display merchandise at trade shows.

Exhibitions, Fairs, and similar cultural events include trade, industrial, agricultural or crafts exhibitions, as well as fairs, world events, exhibitions for a charitable purpose or to promote learning, crafts, scientific or cultural activity, or religious knowledge or worship.

The ATA Carnet covers temporary exports only; it cannot be used for goods that will be consumed in another country such as handouts or pamphlets, food items, plants or other perishables. Personal cars with the intent to be driven on public roads cannot go on an ATA Carnet.

What are the Benefits of an ATA Carnet?

There are other ways the ATA Carnet can ease temporary importation. For example, an ATA Carnet is valid for up to one year and users can travel to as many ATA Carnet member countries as necessary during that period. In addition, partial and split shipments can be made. Since you don’t have to take all of the merchandise listed on your General List on each trip, one ATA Carnet can cover the needs of several trips for different purposes.

Remember, however, that an ATA Carnet does NOT take the place of other Government agency requirements, licenses and permits. U.S. and foreign Government regulations specific to each respective country must be followed for both the export and import.

Where are ATA Carnets Accepted?

Over 100 countries and their territories currently accept ATA Carnets. Additional information about traveling in these countries, categories of goods accepted, possible restrictions, Guaranteeing Associations and more can be found in our ATA Carnet Country Guide.

Traveling in the European Union
With the recent expansion of the European Union, traveling in Europe is even easier with an ATA Carnet. Your goods must clear customs only once when they enter the EU and once when they depart; your ATA Carnet does not need to be presented when traveling between EU countries. Your DB Schenker eCarnet expert will be able to advise you on how best to select countries to keep your ATA Carnet manageable and control costs.

Using a Carnet in Taiwan
Taiwan, through a bilateral agreement with the United States, accepts a TECRO/AIT Carnet, which can also be obtained through DB Schenker eCarnet application. If you will be traveling to Taiwan and other countries, you will need to obtain both an ATA Carnet and a TECRO/AIT Carnet for the same goods.

The ATA Carnet Document

Your ATA Carnet document consists of multiple certificates and are specified by color. The front green cover of the official document shows holder and country information (note: U.S. ATA Carnets have a protective outer folder). The yellow certificates of the document are considered the control documents and remain with the Carnet to be removed by customs. They are used for the registration of goods that will return to the USA. Blue and White Certificates are used by foreign customs. A detailed set of instructions can be found on the inside of the ATA Carnet cover.

If you’re not sure how to use your ATA Carnet, contact your DB Schenker eCarnet Service Team at 1-844-eCarnet (1-844-322-7638) or