When freight forwarders are shipping cargo for clients and it involves moving that cargo through Customs, invoices should always accompany the merchandise. The Customs agent is going to want to see specific information about the merchandise, including quantity, value, and current condition.
Some merchandise must pass inspections, and required fees must be paid before it will be allowed to arrive at its destination. Goods of any value should also be properly insured in the event they are lost, or have become damaged, en route. International shipping works in much the same way, but when companies arrange for cargo to move between countries they are required to use temporary admission carnets, or ata carnets.
Carnets are important documents for worldwide shipping
In the US there are two types of carnets issued, ATA and TECRO/AIT. TECRO/AIT carnets are used for temporary imports in Taiwan, which only accepts the TECRO/AIT carnet. ATA carnets are used for the 85 other countries and territories that are members of the carnet system. These international customs documents, issued by the chambers of commerce in the majority of cities in the industrialized world, allow the temporary importation of goods, free of customs duties and taxes. They can be issued for several different categories of merchandise and also serve as the US Certificate of Registration of goods upon re-importation.
Upon arrival back in the US you’ll need to get the carnet validated by having the yellow re-importation counterfoil in the carnet stamped and signed by customs. The reason for this is that, if there are any problems with foreign customs and your carnet, you will have evidence that you re-imported the items back to the US, which means they cannot possibly have been left in any foreign country. Most merchandise can be listed on a carnet and virtually all types of goods and equipment can be transported under the ATA carnet, including professional equipment, for example, cameras and other items used by photographers, and goods intended for use at exhibitions. These carnets are issued for six months.
While generally they are issued and can be used for one year from the date of origin, US, or foreign customs officials have the right to limit the validity period on a carnet upon inspection. Valid ata carnets can be used multiple times and in multiple countries while valid, and can be issued and delivered in as little as one day, once the application process is complete.