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FAQ

What goods can be covered by a carnet?
What does the carnet consist of?
How specific do the descriptions on the general list need to be?
How long is a carnet valid?
Our carnet was lost or misplaced. What can we do?
How quickly will the security deposit be returned or cancelled?
Why must a security deposit be provided?
How long does it take to get a carnet?
Can I sell goods off a carnet?
How does the carnet system work?
Which countries accept carnets now?

What goods can be covered by a carnet?

Just about any temporary import that comes under three broad categories:

  • Commercial samples used for demonstration or as sales tools
  • Professional equipment, which may be anything from scientific apparatus to theatrical costumes, surgical instruments to musical instruments, TV cameras to live horses.
  • Fairs and exhibitions

The main requirement is that what goes in must come out— the goods must not be sold, given away or otherwise disposed of while in the foreign country. For this reason, you cannot include consumable items that will be used or handed out while in the foreign country—such as brochures, cleaning materials or feed for horses.

What does the carnet consist of?

The carnet customs document can consist of just a few or several pages, depending on the number of items you are transporting and countries you're going to do business in or pass through. For example, a symphony orchestra on tour may have pages of items listed and a collection of “vouchers,” but an executive off to a conference may have only three or four items and one set of vouchers.

There are two vouchers for each country on the itinerary, one to give to the customs officer when entering, and one for leaving the country (whether from the same location or another exit point). There are also two vouchers to present to customs when leaving and returning to Canada.

How specific do the descriptions on the general list need to be?

Customs authorities have the right to stop goods from entering its borders (seizure of goods, etc.) if the description is not adequate enough. Items on the general list should be as descriptive as possible; to avoid any delays, include serial numbers or model numbers whenever possible.

How long is a carnet valid?

One year from the date of issue. Within this year, a carnet holder can visit as many countries in the system as (s)he wishes, and enter and leave Canada as often as
(s)he wishes. All goods listed on the carnet must be returned to Canada by the expiry date or prior to any assigned date(s) upon importation into a foreign country.

Our carnet was lost or misplaced. What can we do?

Call your regional office, or office of issue.

Depending on the circumstances, a duplicate carnet may be issued. For example, if the carnet was lost in a foreign country and you needed to re-export the goods, a duplicate carnet could be issued for an additional fee. If the carnet was lost in Canada and is not expired, you could obtain a B3 from your local customs office to register the goods back into Canada, thereby reducing the risk of a foreign customs claim.

How quickly will the security deposit be returned or cancelled?

The security is returned or cancelled when the carnet documents have been returned to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and there is acceptable proof that the goods have been returned to Canada. The Canadian Chamber may hold the security until all claims (if any) are settled, or until the claim period is over if a carnet is deemed problematic.

Why must a security deposit be provided?

This is a requirement of the ATA Carnet Convention. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, as the national guaranteeing association in Canada, guarantees the payment of duties and taxes to customs (both domestic and foreign) authorities that present valid claims. Security deposits provide the ATA system with financial viability.

How long does it take to get a carnet?

You should allow at least five working days, from the time your application reaches the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. Rush processing (less than 72 hours), is also available for a surcharge. It is also recommended that you allow time for Canada Customs validation.

Can I sell goods off a carnet?

Yes. HOWEVER, you must pay the duties and taxes applicable, as well as any penalties levied. You have the option of making the payment directly to the foreign country in which the goods were sold, or wait to be contacted by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce once a claim has been registered by the country involved. If you opt for direct payment (preferable to do so), please ensure you obtain an itemized customs receipt that includes the carnet number, item(s) sold and total amount of duties and taxes paid. Upon returning to Canada, send a copy of the receipt to Carnet Services c/o the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

How does the carnet system work?

Carnets are issued and managed by chambers of commerce throughout the world. The terms and conditions of this arrangement are enforced through written agreements between members and the International Bureau of Chambers of Commerce in Paris. Canada has been a member of the carnet system since 1972.

Which countries accept carnets now?

The majority of countries that Canada does business with are members of the carnet system, and more countries are joining every year. View a detailed listing of carnet countries.