ATA Carnet – What is it, definition and concept | 2022

The ATA carnet is an international document that allows the temporary importation of merchandise free of customs duties.

The acronym ATA is a combination of the French and English words: Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission. The period of benefit of this card extends up to one year from its issue.

This document falls within the standardized forms to facilitate international trade. Therefore, they can be previously prepared to be used in any customs office in the world.

In 1961, the Customs Cooperation Council adopts the Customs Agreement creating the ATA carnet, coming into force in 1963. Later, it was ratified by the WCO in the Istanbul Convention in 1990 within the temporary admission of merchandise agreements. that remain in force.

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Characteristics of the ATA card

The ATA carnet contains the following elements:

  • Cover and back cover: Contains the information related to the holder. Also, other elements such as the number, validity, guarantor, intended use and list of merchandise.
  • Vouchers or coupons: They are used as customs declaration and guarantee. These must be presented at customs, both at the entry of merchandise and at the exit.
  • Checkbooks: They serve as customs control for the monitoring of operations. Likewise, they are used for tax exemption in stages after temporary importation.
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The National Guarantee Associations (NGA) are in charge of regulating the issuance of this document. There can only be one per country, but under its responsibility there can be several card-issuing associations. These NGAs form an international guarantee network that ensures import rights in case of improper use of the ATA carnet.


The benefits granted by this document are the following:

  • Exemption from customs duties.
  • Unification of declaration for all the customs that the merchandise will go through.
  • Useful to simplify processes in trips with multiple destinations.
  • Complex customs preparations at low predetermined costs.

Use of the ATA carnet

This document is mainly useful for exhibitions, fairs and the like. Therefore, some profiles benefited are exhibitors, artists, television crews, event participants, among others. Likewise, the main assets that it contemplates are:

  • Goods for use in trade fairs, shows and exhibitions.
  • Professional team.
  • Commercial samples.
  • Personal effects and goods for sports purposes.

Likewise, as indicated in the Istanbul Convention, it really applies to almost all types of goods.

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