You’re attending a trade show in a foreign country, and need to send over materials for display. Can you send it without paying duties? In some cases “yes”.
A carnet (car-nay) is an international customs document that allows you to carry or send merchandise for a one year period or less into another member country for display or demonstration without paying duties, posting bonds or submitting the normal customs documents. The first step is to check to see if the country you are sending the material to is a member in the ATA (Admission Temporoire) Carnet System. To check whether the country to which you are traveling is covered, you may contact them at:
National Carnet Service Center
325 North Hough Street, 2nd Floor
Barrington, IL 60010
The carnet is currently valid in 71 countries throughout Europe, North America including Mexico, Asia, and Africa with new countries being added periodically.
The costs of an ATA Carnet varies, processing fees are based on the value of the shipment. Basic costs will generally be between $215 to $355.
Once you’ve obtained the Carnet, you present it to your freight forwarder to have it travel with the materials you are shipping. If you are hand carrying the material you should keep the carnet with you to present to customs upon entering the country.
Keep in mind that a carnet is a temporary import that can not be used for consumable goods, such as food, disposable goods, or postal traffic.
Using a carnet can save you a lot of money!