The ATA Carnet is an international customs document that permits duty-free and tax-free temporary import of goods for up to one year. The initials “ATA” are an acronym of the French and English words “Admission Temporaire/ Temporary Admission”. ATA Carnets cover almost everything:  commercial samples, professional equipment, goods for use at trade fairs, shows, exhibitions. 

Mr Henk Wit, the Carnet Manager of The Netherlands and Deputy Chair of the ICC/WCF World ATA Carnet Council and ATA Administrative Committee tells us how companies in the Netherlands benefit from using ATA Carnets and what are the most important steps in using the ATA Carnet.

Why do you recommend Dutch companies to use an ATA Carnet for temporarily import/export?

Actually, it is just for all the ‘standard reasons’, it is a standardized tool, that can be used multiple times a year, works the same in all member states, replacing all the different national documents and allowing the temporary importation free of all hassle of having to secure guarantees to Customs per border passage. All this made possible since the system is backed by a solid international guaranteeing chain that has proven its worth for over half a century.

Which kind of goods are delivered with an ATA Carnet from the Netherlands to the 77 ATA countries?

Practically everything that qualifies under the relevant Annexes of the Convention. We are a country with not many natural resourses or raw materials and, as most western countries have seen all kind of production industries move to other parts of the world. However, the TV and film industry is big with both image and sound being important, as well as connected branches like stage productions, lighting, hospitality and catering. Furthermore, exhibitions cover a considerable percentage, i.e. Carnets for artists, sports events, the fashion, jewelry and precious stones business featuring high. The 3rd main group is those using Carnets to cover the transport of goods related to testing, measuring and maintenance.

What are the most important steps in using the ATA Carnet properly?

Looking at the business side, thus not from a Customs perspective, I could split the question in 2 parts, the users or Carnet holders and their representatives on the one side, the issuing Chambers on the other side. However, considering ‘the audience’, let’s look at the actual users. First, the application is important, the applicant has to provide the issuing body with data. It is of the utmost importance this data is correct. The Carnet has to be seen as a passport for goods. As such, the proper, easy and positive identification of goods is key. Second, obtaining the visa of Customs on the front page, without having the Carnet validated, it is useless. Third, border crossings. It is the holder’s (or his/her representative’s) responsibility to declare the goods with the Carnet at every border crossing. Everything going into a country has to leave as well, failing to make a declaration will cancel out the use of the Carnet, costs will be the result. Excuses like ‘no time’, ‘I did not see anybody’ or ‘I was not stopped’ do not undo the Carnet user’s responsibility. And fourth, make sure to return the Carnet after use to the issuing body. Preferably within the validity. Chamber staff can check the proper use of the document and coach holders when ‘omissions’ have taken place. Proof, also obtained ‘in a 2nd phase’ but within the validity of the document always stands a better change to be accepted by the Customs of the country where the ‘omission’ took place, compared to proof dated after the validity of the Carnet.

Which are the top three ATA Countries in the Netherland – countries to which goods are delivered with an ATA Carnet? In Finland they are The Russian Federation, The United States and Norway.

The United States of America, Switzerland and Norway feature high on the list as do, logically, those countries closest to us, but not in the EU, as your nearest neighbors are mostly the countries with which one has most trade. But also countries ‘further afield’, besides the mentioned ‘top 3’ like Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, China, Japan, Israel, Australia and Canada are well visited. 

Chambers have issued ATA Carnets for 20 years this year. How do you see the future of the

ATA Carnet system?

Correct me if I am wrong but I think Finland, as well as The Netherlands have been a member of the ATA Convention since 1964, so we are actually talking about over half a century of Varnets. There is still space for the system to play its role and there will be in the future. The advantages have been described, furthermore, the guarantee system, based on the relationship between, in the 1st place the issuing bodies and their national guaranteeing organizations but certainly also between Customs worldwide and the guaranteeing organizations makes it a solid system. In addition to that, in recent times we have seen popularity increase with a very important group of users, i.e. the SMEs, representing and enormous percentage of businesses in the member states. Right now, the focus is on digitizing, it is felt that in case this will not happen, with Customs worldwide going digital as much as possible, the system may well run the risk of perishing in the future. It is clear that with around 80 countries with their ‘stand-alone’ Customs administrations as well as different Chamber structures, plus tens of thousands of Carnet users, this is not an easy project. It may well be unprecedented at this moment in time. Yet, the Chamber community, under the umbrella of the ICC/WCF, as well as the World Customs Organization feel going digital is the only way forward!

I started with the Chamber in the early eighties. At the time there were close to 40 Chambers in The Netherlands with over 50 offices. After several rounds of mergers, we started in 2014 with 1 Chamber (with several offices). Where the Chamber plays a role in the lifecycle of export related documents (certificates of origin, Movement certificates EUR.1 and EUR-MED, legalizations and ATA Carnets), work is concentrated at 4 offices, mainly resulting from trying to digitize where possible. In the present organization a 3-people management team, including me, steers matters from the head office in Utrecht. As far as the ATA Carnet is concerned, I am busy as the Carnet Manager of The Netherlands and in this role also fulfilling the position of Deputy Chair of the ICC/WCF World ATA Carnet Council and ATA Administrative Committee.

Further information on the ATA Carnet  (English)  (Finnish)

Article written by Mr Henk Wit, the Carnet Manager of The Netherlands and Deputy Chair of the ICC/WCF World ATA Carnet Council and ATA Administrative Committee

OtherAnnemarie Hjorth