Blog ATA Carnet: save time and money when you export
ATA Carnet: save time and money when you export

ATA Carnet: save time and money when you export

Despite current circumstances, business travel and prospecting activities abroad are slowly restarting. Are you planning to participate in a trade show or to make a prospecting trip with samples of your merchandise? Make your life easier when you go through customs with an ATA Carnet.

What’s an ATA Carnet?

An ATA Carnet is a single administrative document that enables you to temporarily import merchandise for a specific purpose without paying customs duties or taxes in non-EU countries or territories which are members of the ATA network.

Currently, 71 countries are members of the ATA Chain, including 44 outside of the EU. You can view the full list of countries here. Please note that the Carnet can also be used in non-member countries that are a part of the chain. In this case, the exporter will not be exempted from the standard customs procedure for “temporary imports”, but their Carnet will nonetheless exempt them from customs duties upon returning the merchandise to Belgium, given that the ATA Carnet was validated by a local customs agency before departure.

When can it be used?

Depending on the text of the treaty the country signed, an ATA Carnet can be issued for three different uses. The three main uses are:

  1. Fairs, exhibitions and other similar events:
    merchandise for display, demonstration or use during exhibitions, fairs, conventions and other similar events.

  2. Commercial samples: merchandise representing a type of good already on the market or models of merchandise intended for production.

  3. Professional equipment: merchandise required by a profession, retail business or company to complete a specific job in the import country. Vehicles are not normally covered by an ATA Carnet, except competition cars and motorcycles and vehicles used to carry out professional activities.

An ATA Carnet is valid for one year and can only be used in the countries which have signed the ATA agreement.  Chambers of Commerce are solely responsible for delivering ATA Carnets.

What are the advantages of the document?

For exporters, an ATA Carnet can reduce expenses, since it provides an exemption from customs duties and taxes in ATA Chain countries. But that’s not all! It also allows you to:

  • Find out about customs formalities beforehand (excluding surcharges and bonds), apart from the purchase price of the Carnet from the Chamber of Commerce (based on the value of the merchandise involved and the number of countries visited)
  • Allows you to visit several third countries with a single customs document, from the time the merchandise is exported from Belgium until it is imported back into Belgium (or another EU member state).
  • Use the same ATA Carnet for several trips during its year-long validity period
  • Return to Belgium with merchandise without delays or customs issues
  • Échapper aux particularités douanières locales puisque les règles de l’ATA sont identiques partout

In addition, the Carnet is nearly entirely digital, thanks to a pilot project led by the ICC and the EU Commission, to which the Federation of Belgian Chambers of Commerce actively contributes.

How much does the ATA Carnet cost?

The cost of an ATA Carnet varies depending on the value of the merchandise it covers and the number of trips. The subscription is therefore not free, but it is, without a shadow of a doubt, less costly compared with the combined expense of customs bonds from the countries travelled through, and especially in terms of time.

How can you obtain an ATA Carnet?

The Brussels Chamber of Commerce BECI can help you with your application. Contact their export formalities team. They will assist you with your Carnet application.

For more information, visit (in French)

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