Improper use of a Carnet may result in an assessment of duties, taxes, and penalties. To avoid such assessments, follow the rules governing the use of a Carnet before your departure or ensure your authorized representatives, customs brokers or freight forwarders handle your shipments within these prescribed guidelines. Before your departure or shipment of your goods, review the Government Agency Requirements and Additional Considerations sections on the Register and Apply page for known restrictions or recommendations pertaining to the country your goods are entering.
An ATA Carnet consists of green covers (front and back) and counterfoils and vouchers.
Front green cover: Foreign customs may deny entry of goods under a Carnet if the green cover is neither signed by a Holder/authorized representative nor validated by U.S. Customs for initial departure. Back green cover contains “Notes on the Use of the Carnet.”
Counterfoils and vouchers are control documents. Counterfoils should remain in the Carnet for use by the holder. Vouchers are removed and kept by customs. Counterfoils and vouchers are always issued in sets of two and are color-coded.
- Yellow counterfoils are used for exiting from and returning to the U.S.(There are no yellow vouchers);
- White counterfoils and vouchers are used for entry into and departure from foreign countries; and
- Blue counterfoils and vouchers are used for transits. Transits are most often used when merchandise is conveyed by land and must pass through or stop in a country that lies between the country of departure and the next country of entry (e.g., leaving Germany to go to Italy, but passing through or stopping in Switzerland).
It is important to use all sets in numerical sequence. For example, for entering and exiting a foreign country, each set is comprised of a white importation and re-exportation,”No.1.” The second set would be numbered “ No.2” and so on.
For complete details, please refer to the Carnet folder provided with all ATA Carnets and CBP Customs Directive 3280-013B.
Departing the US
- For initial departure, the Holder or authorized representative must first sign the green cover. U.S. Customs must validate the green cover and a yellow exportation counterfoil to activate the Carnet for its first use. For U.S. issued Carnets there are no exportation vouchers. Foreign customs may deny entry of goods under a Carnet if neither the green cover nor the exportation counterfoil is validated by U.S. Customs.
- Use a yellow exportation counterfoil (for initial departure, use No.1). Indicate only those item numbers that are leaving the U.S. in Section (1) of the counterfoil. It is the Holder’s responsibility to ensure that U.S. Customs has indicated the correct item numbers on the counterfoil especially in a partial or split shipment.
- Present the Carnet to U.S. Customs.
- U.S. Customs will then validate the counterfoil.
Entering a Foreign Country
- Use a white importation voucher. Complete Section D & E. Indicate only those item numbers that are entering the country in Section F(a). Specify in F(b) the intended use of the Carnet, e.g., participation in an exhibition or sales visit.
- Sign and date the voucher.
- Present the Carnet to customs at the time of entry.
- Foreign customs must indicate only those items that are entering in Section (1) of the counterfoil.
- Any customs authority has the right to restrict any shipment to less than one year. Be sure to comply with the “Final Date for Re-exportation/production to the Customs of goods” in Section 2 of the counterfoil. If the Carnet is not restricted, the final date for reexportation becomes 12:00 midnight of the expiration date (c) printed on the green cover.
- The customs inspector will then validate both the counterfoil and voucher and then detach the voucher.
Departing a Foreign Country
- Use the white reexportation voucher that has the same number as the most recently used importation voucher. Complete section D & E. Indicate only those item numbers that are leaving in Section F(a). Also indicate the corresponding importation voucher number in the second part of Section F(a). Complete Section F(b,c,d), if applicable.
- Sign and date the voucher.
- Present the Carnet to customs at time of departure.
- The foreign customs inspector must clearly indicate only those item numbers that are leaving in Section 1 of the counterfoil, along with the corresponding importation voucher number. (If an item(s) is not reexported and duties are paid, it is vital that a customs cashier’s receipt be obtained from the local customs authorities. This receipt must clearly list the merchandise not reexported (as on General List) and must note the Carnet number. The Carnet and customs receipt should be returned to the USCIB upon completion of the final use of the Carnet.)
- Foreign customs will validate both counterfoil and voucher. Customs will then detach and retain the voucher for a later comparison to the importation voucher.
- Special Note: Customs authorities in the European Union (EU) may be unwilling or unavailable to validate ATA Carnets for goods moving between EU member countries. Before final departure from the EU, INSIST on validation of both re-exportation counterfoil and voucher.
- All items not reexported because of loss, theft, destruction or other reason are subject to all applicable duties, taxes, and possible penalties.
- Carnet Holders who fail to have the Carnet validated at the time of departure may be charged a regularization fee by the foreign customs authorities even if a claim does not occur.
Re-Entering the U.S.
Sec.148.11 of the U.S. Customs Regulations states “All articles brought into the United States by any individual shall be declared to a Customs officer at the port of first arrival…”
- Present the Carnet to customs at the time of re-entry.
- Use the yellow re-importation counterfoil bearing the same number as the yellow exportation counterfoil used at the time of departure.
- U.S. Customs inspector must clearly indicate those item numbers re-entering in Section 1 of the counterfoil and indicate the corresponding exportation counterfoil number in the second part, Section 1. Customs will then validate the counterfoil. (U.S. Customs should allow the goods to re-enter the U.S. even if the Carnet has expired. The expiration date only limits entry into foreign countries.)
- MOST IMPORTANT: Upon returning to the U.S., the re-importation counterfoil must be validated by U.S. Customs. This is the last line of defense in cancelling a Carnet or settling a claim without payment of duties and taxes, though regularization fees may apply.
To Transit a Country (If Applicable)
At the Time of Entry
- Use two blue (transit) use two blue transit counterfoil and voucher. Indicate in Section F(a) of the voucher the customs port (of the country of transit) from which the goods will exit.
- Indicate only those item numbers that are transiting in the second half of Section F(a).
- Sign and date the voucher.
- Present the Carnet to customs at the port of entry.
- Foreign customs will indicate the item numbers in “Clearance for Transit, 1,” on the counterfoil and indicate the port to which the goods are being dispatched. The customs inspector will then assign the final date that the goods must exit that port in No. 2 of the counterfoil. It is vital to adhere to the final date for re-exportation mandated by Foreign Customs.
- The customs inspector will complete 4-6 sign and stamp No. 7 of both transit counterfoils and Section H of the first voucher and then detach that voucher.
At the Time of Departure
- Present the Carnet to customs at the port of discharge.
- The customs inspector at the port of discharge will complete the Certificate of Discharge on the second counterfoil and Section H of the second voucher and then detach the second voucher.
- When the transit is complete, Signature Sections 6 and 7 of the second counterfoil will have been validated and both vouchers will have been detached.
- Your Carnet is the property of the USCIB. Upon completion of the final trip, the ORIGINAL Carnet, together with all used and unused certificates MUST be returned to the Carnet Service Provider.
- Make a copy of all the pages of the Carnet for your records.
- Send the original Carnet to the Carnet Service Providers address. This address can be found on the bottom of both the front and back of the Carnets green cover.