What Qualifies as an ATA Carnet Shipment?

An ATA Carnet shipment is designed to stay in a foreign country on a temporary basis and must not be intended for consumption. Items can be for commercial, professional, or exhibition use and can only enter a foreign country for a one year time period, though there are some exceptions to this timeframe, and with permission a replacement carnet may be purchased to extend this time period. These items must be re-exported in the same condition as they entered, so it is important they do not change in value, undergo any further processing, or transform in any substantial way.

An ATA Carnet is an international customs document that is presented when entering a Carnet country with equipment or products that will be re-exported within 12 months. There are more than 100 countries and territories located in Europe, North America, South America, Asia, Africa and Oceania where an ATA Carnet can be used. You can find a full list of countries currently accepting ATA Carnets here.

The main purpose of a Carnet is to temporarily import items into a foreign country without having to pay duties or taxes upon arrival or re-importation back into the country of origin.

When it comes to traveling with an ATA Carnet, you might want to know what qualifies as an ATA Carnet shipment? In general, there are three choices for the use of the items being temporarily exported:

  1. Commercial Samples: goods used to generate a sales order or used for demonstration purposes.
  2. Professional Equipment: items used strictly as tools of the trade.
  3. Exhibitions and Fairs: display items used at trade shows, fairs, and similar cultural events.

Along with reducing costs, an ATA Carnet shipment acts as a United States registration of goods and is valid for multiple trips for up to one year. It can cover a full range of merchandise including trade show booths, personal computers, satellites, machinery, diagnostic equipment, jewelry, video equipment, tools, vehicles and even rare gems. Carnets can even be used to cover more exotic and unusual items such as rare artworks, live animals, scientific equipment, aircrafts or pleasure boats.

Some examples of items that a Carnet won’t cover include pamphlets or hand outs, food items, plants, or other perishables that will be consumed in another country.

Looking for some real-world examples of what qualifies as an ATA Carnet shipment? Consider the following:

  1. A company taking mining equipment to Canada for a 6 month construction project.
  2. An American fashion brand taking their sales team to Paris for Market Week.
  3. A jewelry designer taking their new collection to Cabo San Lucas for a catalog photo shoot.
  4. A medical device manufacturer presenting at an exhibition in China or Hong Kong.
  5. A rock band moving tour equipment for their world tour with stops in England, Ireland, France, Germany, Croatia, Estonia, Hungry, Russia, Japan, Australia, and the U.S.
  6. A news crew with video equipment following a breaking story in Montenegro.

Obtaining an ATA Carnet is a quick, easy and cost-effective solution to the complications of moving merchandise to another country and back within a 12-month span of time.


Related Content You Might Have Interest In

Why Would One Choose to Use an ATA Carnet Over the Other Options?

What is an ATA Carnet Bond?

Who are the Parties to the ATA Carnet?


Our Latest Articles

Unlocking Success: The Key Elements of Carrier Vetting and Managing Liability

By: Andrew Johnson, Account Executive, Roanoke Insurance Group Inc. The freight brokerage industry as we know it today began in the late 1970s and early 1980s, around the time of the Motor Carrier Act of 1980. Before the passage of this landmark legislation, regulations were too restrictive to make freight brokerage a viable business segment. […]

Leadership Excellence: Karen Rzeszutko Represents Roanoke on USCIB Board

We are excited to share that Karen Rzeszutko, President of Roanoke Insurance Group Inc. has been appointed to the Board of Directors of the United States Council for International Business (USCIB) for the 2024-2026 term. This appointment recognizes Karen’s outstanding leadership and her significant contributions to the industry. The USCIB, a prominent organization dedicated to […]

Guarding Against Fictitious Pickups and Cargo Theft: Tips and Training

Fictitious pickups are increasing in North America. In the US, the percentage of cargo thefts due to fictitious pickup rose from 1% in 2022 to 17% in 2023. Strategic theft patterns are also rising, where thieves use identity theft and fraud with fictitious pickup and brokering schemes to obtain loads from freight locations. Combatting this […]

Professional Partnerships

Roanoke is the leading provider of insurance and surety solutions for transportation and logistics providers. In fact, we are recognized as the most reliable source for U.S. customs bonds.


If you have any questions or need help, feel free to contact with our team.



1501 E. Woodfield Road

Suite 400W

Schaumburg, IL 60173


390 Bay Street

Munich Re Centre, 22nd Floor

Toronto, ON M5H 2Y2

Solutions that Go the Distance.

© 2024 Roanoke Insurance Group Inc. A Munich Re company

Better Business Bureau logoCoverholder at Lloyd's logo