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What Is a Carnet?

If you plan to import and re-export goods internationally, one of the most important items you need to know about is an ATA Carnet (pronounced “car-nay”). A Carnet is a document you can apply for if the freight you are importing will be re-exported within 12 months. It allows importer/exporters to avoid paying duties and customs taxes for goods that are not intended to remain in the imported country.

Also known as a Merchandise Passport, a Carnet can be used in 82 countries and territories who are members of the Carnet system. It covers many types of freight, including professional equipment, goods to be used in exhibitions and fairs and product samples. The ATA Carnet exempts them from duties and custom taxes. When they return to the United States, the Carnet also takes the place of Form CVP 4455: United States Certificate of Registration of Goods Form.

Although the Carnet is valid for 12 months, a replacement can sometimes be issued to extend that time as long as the application is filed before the original Carnet expires. Additionally, Carnets can usually be issued within 24 hours of application, and sometimes same-day service is an option.

A Carnet is an expedient, financially prudent way to bypass duties and customs taxes on freight that will be re-exported within a year. It is a simple, quick application that will save importer/exporters time and money when handling such goods.