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Transporting Equipment and ATA Carnets

Transporting sets, props and other equipment requires a significant amount of planning. Shipping arrangements can be complicated and demand an awareness of customs documentation and international regulations that govern the movement of certain items and materials. It may be advisable for less-experienced promoters to consider the services of a reputable shipping agent who can manage the necessary arrangements for a successful move. Company/group members could also consider carrying everything themselves or sourcing goods locally.

The British International Freight Association (BIFA) is the primary body representing the UK international freight services industry and can provide further information:

Shipping agents vary between:

Multi-national freight companies who transport industrial or heavy duty goods
Multi-national or local shippers which transport general goods e.g. furniture, for domestic or corporate moves
Fine art shipping specialists

Assess the level of services that you need.

Selected International Shipping and Freight Organisations:

ABP (Association of British Ports) - Has links to UK ports and services
EFFA (European Freight Forwarders Association)
DFT (Department for Transport)
Irish Maritime Development Office (See Shipping Directory for contacts)
FIATA (The International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations) A non-governmental organisation representing forwarding and logistics firms.
IATA (International Air Transport Association)
IMO (International Maritime Organisation)
AMSA (American Moving and Storage Association)
PAIMA (Pan American International Movers Association)
LACMA (Latin American & Caribbean International Movers Association)

ATA Carnets

An ATA Carnet (Temporary Admission Carnet) is an international customs document used for the temporary movement of goods between countries that are signatories to the ATA or Istanbul Convention. There should always be an intention to return goods to the country of origin. Goods must not be processed or repaired other than routine maintenance necessary to maintain them in the condition that they were imported.

Categories of Goods covered:

Commercial Samples
Professional Equipment
International Trade Fairs / Exhibitions
Applicant companies must lodge security with us, which is released on return of customs proof of the re-importation of the goods to the EEC. Security varies depending on type of goods and countries visited.

A carnet is a booklet of internationally-recognised vouchers that replaces normal Customs & Excise declarations. It acts as a "passport" presented at each customs post the goods pass through. It can simplify arrangements for temporarily imported or exported items and can help to alleviate difficulties arising from language barriers and unfamiliar Customs documentation between countries.

A carnet:

1. Can contain any number of vouchers to allow items to move between several countries or for multiple trips made using one carnet. Each voucher contains the ‘general list’ of items that it covers - i.e. a description of each object covered by the carnet;
2. Is valid for a maximum of one year from the date of issue - some countries will issue or accept a replacement carnet that extends the validity period to a maximum of two years;
3. Is issued by Chambers of Commerce or the local equivalent in a particular country. The overseas company/artist would need to contact the nearest office in their home country. There is often a charge for issuing a carnet. A local Chamber of Commerce will be able to tell you whether an ATA Carnet can be issued for your planned temporary export and can also provide advice on specific regulations of using a carnet abroad.

Further information about the issue of carnets in the UK and contact details for international Chambers of Commerce can be obtained from:

The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Export Documents - Carnets

33 Queen Street
Tel: 020 7248 4444
Fax: 020 7203 1921

Items from EC countries

A carnet is not required for goods originating in the EC that are temporarily imported to the UK from other Member States of the EC, or for goods imported from outside the EC that are in free circulation when:

all import formalities have been complied with;
all import duties, levies and equivalent charges payable have been paid and have not been fully or partially refunded.

Using a carnet

A carnet is issued to the holder named on the front cover. It can be used by them or another named representative. The carnet holder does not have to be the original owner of the goods but is liable for any subsequent customs duty or charges that are made. They are responsible for ensuring that each voucher is endorsed correctly at every Customs entry/exit point.

Usually if a non-EC artist/company arranges for a shipping company to transport works into the UK, the agent will obtain a carnet and a member of their staff is named as a representative.

The carnet must be presented to Customs with the relevant import, export or transit voucher. Each time a carnet is presented to Customs a declaration on the voucher is completed, Customs will check and endorse that the correct procedures have been followed and that the original items are present. If voucher sections have been incorrectly processed or not endorsed, or if any of the items originally stated on the carnet are missing, the carnet holder may be liable for Customs duty and any import charges.
Carnets cannot be used for any items sent by post.

Further information about carnets is available from HM Revenue & Customs in Notice 104 ATA & CPD Carnets . This includes details of other Chambers of Commerce in the UK.

Tips for completing and using ATA Carnets

If an ATA Carnet is not presented and endorsed at each Customs entry/exit point, Customs can seize the goods or demand payment that will delay the entry of the items into the UK.
If an ATA carnet is insufficiently completed, Customs officers may refuse entry to the items which can be withheld while a normal Customs declaration or replacement carnet is issued. If the description of goods is inadequate and Customs cannot easily identify items, the carnet can be refused and/or duty payment charged. Take photocopies and photographs of each item listed on the carnet to speed up identification at Customs.
It may be necessary to provide an English translation of the carnet.
Customs points are not staffed 24 hours a day and often not at weekends. It can take up to one week for a carnet to clear Customs. Check in advance if the relevant Customs office at the port of entry will be staffed on the date of arrival to the UK. Contact the C & E National Advice Service on 0845 010 9000 for details of Customs offices.
Once a carnet is issued additional items cannot be added to it. If you wish to import or export any extra items, you will need to apply for a separate carnet.
If an artist is only bringing a few items, a carnet is not necessary as it is accepted that these items are performers’ personal effects. The artist should contact the local office of an international airfreight company for further information.
Quite large quantities can be transported by excess baggage but still within a full carnet, but costs are generally high. The artist(s) should contact the airline for further information.

HM Revenue & Customs
National Carnet Unit
1st Floor
Queens Dock
L74 4AG
Tel: 0151 703 1368
Fax: 0151 703 1371

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