ATA Carnet

An ATA Carnet will make life easier if you’re bringing your trade show booth across the border and back.

How an ATA Carnet differs from a Certificate of Origin

An ATA Carnet is like a year-long pass for shipping in and out of a bordering country, whereas a Certificate of Origin is more like a one-time trip (unless you’re reordering and importing the same item frequently). Importing a Pareti Mobile Walls product, such as a trade show display, requires a Certificate of Origin, Copy of the paid invoice, and bill of lading so you can receive your shipment duty free. This documentation also shows customs that NAFTA criteria have been met for our products. These forms will be attached directly to your shipment. (Pareti can also forward the PDFs of this paperwork to you for your records as well.) However, this paperwork only serves the purpose of confirming the shipment containing your order gets to you.

If you plan to ship your display back and forth to the USA and Canada, the Certificate of Origin will not work for you. That’s because the Certificate of Origin only covers a blanked time period for shipping directly to you, the customer. It’s the documentation required to ship our products to you – one way only. This time period generally covers a month or two, to ensure your shipment has plenty of time to arrive. If you need to ship your imported display back and forth across the border such as with a trade show or museum exhibit display, you will need to apply for an ATA Carnet (pronounced “car-nay”).

While it may feel exhausting to have yet another form to fill out for previously imported items, the ATA Carnet will create a more efficient way to bring your items back and forth across the border. Essentially it’s the paperwork you need that says you own this item, even though it was originally an import when you first received it.

What is an ATA Carnet?

The ATA Carnet is now the most widely used document for international operations and the temporary admission of goods. Think of it like a passport, but for goods like your Pareti display, or other items (including your own items). This documentation allows you to do things like bring items which belong to you across the border and back, tax-free and duty-free, for up to one year. These declaration forms are then ready to use at every border crossing point. It can also be used with multiple countries and multiple trips within that one year time period.

(In case you’re curious, ATA stands for “Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission” – sort of a French-English hybrid acronym.)

Requirements of an ATA Carnet differ from say, your standard luggage that you might pack on a trip. Basically, everything claimed on an ATA Carnet and within the crate or shipment you’re sending back and forth across the border, must stay with that crate. For example, if you’re sending trade show materials, don’t include giveaways or paper towels in the ATA Carnet shipment, because everything you ship and send back must be accounted for. Therefore, no consumable items can be included within these shipments.

Beside the 28 member states of the European Union and member states of the European Free Trade Association, the ATA Carnet is in force in Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Australia, Bahrain, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Hong Kong (China), Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Lebanon, Macau (China), Macedonia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Pakistan, Russia, Qatar, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates and the United States of America. (courtesy of Wikipedia).

How the ATA Carnet is used

The ATA Carnet has evolved into a convenient way to transport goods back and forth across borders. For example, it allows business travelers to use a single document to clear certain categories through customs of several countries without duties or taxes. There are various guidelines and penalties if certain rules are not followed, so it’s critical to contact a broker to help you navigate the process, and to help you apply for an ATA Carnet.

What can you ship?

ATA Carnets cover things like trade show displays, sample products (you must bring back with you), computers, repair tools, musical instruments, industrial machinery, and rock group sound systems. ATA Carnets do not cover perishable or consumable items, or goods for processing or repair – so be sure to ship items you plan to sell or giveaway at the show separately.

Common uses include:

  • trade show displays
  • Museum artifcats
  • Art exhibit items and displays
  • Commercial samples for testing purposes
  • Sports equipment
  • Educational equipment, or items. used for scientific or cultural purposes

What info you’ll need

There’s quite a bit of Information you need to apply for an ATA Carnet, so you’ll need to get some things organized.

  • Holder information – party responsible for taxes or duties if the item is left in the foreign country
  • Authorized representative who can present the ATA Carnet for customs clearance
  • General list of goods traveling on the ATA Carnet. This should include applicable descriptions like serial numbers, model numbers, measurements, contents, colors, fabric or construction, country of origin, and weight.
  • Countries to visit
  • Form of security (or bond)
  • Power of Attorney
  • Insurance
  • Applicable fees

This list was complied based on a list provided by Roanoke Trade in Schaumburg, Illinois, USA (1-800-ROANOKE). To read more, visit

How to apply for an ATA Carnet

Apply for an ATA Carnet through your freight forwarder or customs house broker. There are also many services which can help with this.

Contact the United States Council for International Business at

or Boomerang Carnets at

Here are some helpful links:

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce
360 Albert Street, Suite 420
K1R 7X7
Tel: (1-613) 238 40 00
Fax: (1-613) 238 76 43

United States Council for International Business
1212 Avenue of the Americas
New York
New York N.Y. 10036
United States
Tel: (1-212) 354 44 80
Fax: (1-212) 944 00 12

Camara Nacional de Comercio de la Ciudad de Mexico (CANACO)
Paseo de la Reforma No. 42 Col. Centro C.P.
06040 Mexico City
Tel: (52) 55 3685 2269
Fax: (52) 55 3685 2200

World Customs Organization

International Chamber of Commerce