As the old saying goes, nothing is free. While the lure of international business is strong and the opportunities may seem endless, any company that hopes to tap into the potential of international business needs to be prepared. One way of making things a bit easier is with the use of an ATA Carnet.
The ATA Carnet was first developed in 1961 by an international group called the Customs Cooperation Council, which is now the World Customs Organization (WCO). This group adopted the “Customs Convention” on the ATA Carnet for the temporary admission of goods. They divided their regulations into three categories of goods:
- Commercial samples,
- Professional equipment,
- Goods for presentation or use while attending a trade fair, show, exhibition or event.
It’s this later category that is of interest to us as exhibitors.
Let’s say you are planning to attend a trade show in a foreign country. One of the considerations you are going to face is getting your exhibit and product samples to the show. One method is by posting a temporary import bond. This temporary import bond is typically one percent of the value of the goods. If the value of what you are bringing into a country is $500,000, your TIB will be $5,000. But the cost of duty and taxes can go higher depending on the country. In the same case an ATA Carnet could cost between $500 and $1,000.
After the show when you have returned all your goods to your home base, you apply to have the temporary import bond lifted. This requires paper work and time. The other issue of using a temporary import bond is that it’s country specific. If for example you are exhibiting in five different countries, you need five temporary import bonds. In our example of goods valued at $500,000, your cost will rise from $5,000 to $25,000 or more.
With an ATA Carnet you apply once each year and you then have unlimited trips and easy access to the countries that you have indicated on your application.
Currently 72 countries recognize the ATA Carnet. The benefits are immense and include:
- Easy entry and exit to the country you are planning to exhibit in,
- The ATA Carnet covers most business items,
- It is less costly than the traditional temporary import bond,
- There is less paper work with one application,
- There are fewer hassles at borders,
- It is internationally recognized,
- It does not tie up extra resources that could be reallocated to other business development actives in the country you are wishing to do business with.
The ATA Carnet doesn’t cover personal items, rather its focus is on goods, displays and presentation materials that you will use at the show. What you take across a border under an ATA Carnet must be brought back. Having said that, the benefits of an ATA Carnet for any business travelling internationally outweigh the costs and any restrictions.
You can learn more about the ATA Carnet through your local Chamber of Commerce or talk to your customs broker or international shipper. Also check out the International Chamber of Commerce site at www.iccbo.org to read more about the details.
Participating in an international trade show is timely and costly. If there are tools at your disposal that will help you make the planning a bit easier it’s worth your while to check them out.