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Taking goods temporarily out of the UK? Could ATA Carnets be right for you?

  • Are you planning to attend an overseas exhibition and take promotional or other materials?

  • Are you due to deliver maintenance or repair services overseas for which you need to take some tools and/or equipment which are meant to return to the UK*?

  • Are you taking teaching material to deliver a training or help you with research?

  • Are you an individual travelling with sports or other equipment? *Exemptions may apply

If you answer yes to any of the above, then you may want to find out if you could benefit from using an ATA Carnet to minimise customs formalities on those temporary movements.

Let’s start with the basics!

So, what is an ATA Carnet?

The ATA Carnet is an international Customs document, which allows the temporary importation of goods to countries which are part of the ATA Carnet System. It avoids going through each countries’ customs procedures for the temporary movement of goods and, therefore, you do not need to pay import duties and other taxes as the goods are meant to return to the UK.

This document is valid for one year from the date of issues and can be used as many times as you need to any of the destinations applied for. You can use ATA Carnets in around 70 countries around the world.

What goods can be covered by ATA Carnets?

How does it work?

Each time you import or export goods temporarily or pass through a country, you must show the carnet to customs. You also need to describe accurately your goods so the customs authorities can identify them correctly. If the items are not correctly described or the details on the carnet are not clear, they can refuse it, which can result in delays until you make a customs declaration – not to mention the fact that you may have to pay taxes and penalties.

Post Brexit, UK and EU companies are now also required to comply with new customs formalities, so please ensure that for your temporary exports to/from the EU you understand what those are before you leave the country. If in doubt, our GMCC team can help.

What are the benefits?

To begin with, using an ATA Carnet will simplify goods clearance through foreign customs. Then it will provide financial security for customs charges, and you will not need to complete a customs declarations each time the goods leave or re-enter the countries, which facilitates customs formalities.

What goods can I move using the carnet?

Types of goods vary between participating countries, however, the association in the issuing country will tell you whether you can use a carnet in the countries you visit.

You can only import certain goods using an ATA Carnet to claim relief under temporary admission in the UK. Additionally, some goods have special conditions attached and if you don’t stick to these, customs may direct that your goods follow normal customs import rules.

For further guidance on what goods are covered by ATA Carnets, please check the UK government website here

How can you obtain an ATA Carnet?

Greater Manchester Chamber is one of the authorised issuing bodies of ATA Carnets in the UK. Our team has more than 30 years of experience and we work with a wide range of businesses ranging from small to large companies and across many sectors including, TV, automotive, race horsing, to name but a few.

It has never been easier to apply and obtain ATA Carnets. Companies can use our online platform to apply for their own carnets electronically. You can also obtain quotes on costs. Once the carnet is issued, our team can either post it back to you or you can collect from our Airport Office.

If you prefer to apply manually, just email our team at and request an application form.

For more details, check the GMCC website, where you will find further information about the ATA Carnets such as costs, security and FAQs.

Source: HMRC, London Chamber of Commerce

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