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Thursday, 26 May 2011

THE ATA CARNET SYSTEM: What if something goes wrong?

ATA Carnets are marvellous documents (for further information see Article ATA CARNET SYSTEM) but don't let anything go wrong. An ATA Carnet allows goods to enter and leave overseas countries without special paperwork or the payment of customs duties so treat it with respect. Used mainly for taking goods to overseas exhibitions, demonstrations, to ease the customs paperwork when professional equipment (ie commissioning or test equipment) is needed overseas or for sales people to carry around valuable commercial samples. In situations like those just described you don't want to have to worry about customs issues, documents, paying duties - that's why the ATA Carnet was invented. A good way of thinking an ATA Carnet is to call it "a passport for goods" - an just think what problems you'd have if you lost your passport while overseas!

I don't want to put you off using ATA Carnets but sometimes things do go wrong and, if you plan to avoid the following happening, you should have a very happy time with your Carnets. So here are a few things that could go wrong and some guidance on what to do if it happens.

a) An export voucher has not been stamped by the relevant customs authority.
Ensure the goods are stamped into the UK. Return the carnet to the chamber with a letter of explanation (i.e. flight departed at 2am, no customs available) and ask them to "regularise" the carnet.

b) The carnet is not stamped back into the UK.
Contact your local customs office and request a "Certificate of Location". The carnet and all the goods covered by the carnet must be available for the customs officer to inspect - if this is at your premises there will be a call-out charge; if they are small enough to take to a local office it is free. Once the "Certificate of Location" has been raised return it with the carnet and a letter of explanation to the issuing chamber. Again there may be a regularisation fee.

c) The goods and carnet return after the validity period.
Firstly UK customs will not allow you to enter the goods using the Carnet documents. The import will have to be made under a different customs procedure = Return Goods Relief, duty/vat free. Ensure to ask the customs to still stamp the counterfoil of the carnet to evidence import - this may take some persuasion but they will do it. Then, lodge an appeal through the issuing chamber. The appeal must have evidence that the goods have returned to the UK (e.g. the import carnet vouchers duly stamped or certificate of location) and a letter of explanation. You cannot reclaim your guarantee amount and if any fines/penalties are incurred you have to pay them immediately. The appeal takes time but could result in a repayment of all or part of the guarantee/fines.

d) Suddenly the goods have to remain overseas, i.e. they've been sold.
This has to be negotiated with customs in the relevant overseas country. The temporary import entry that has been made against the carnet voucher needs to be amended to a permanent import with full payment of import duties and taxes. You will need assistance from a company registered in that country to succeed. On payment of full duty/tax a "Duty receipt docket" should be issued and the re-export voucher of the carnet duly stamped and endorsed by customs. The carnet should then be returned to the issuing chamber with a letter of explanation. You could be charged a fine or penalised, e.g. the chamber refuses to grant further carnet to the company, because this is a serious mis-use of a carnet.

e) Goods are lost or stolen.
It is advisable that the goods are insured for their value plus the guarantee amount so, if they are lost or stolen the insurance claim will repay the penalties/fines incurred.

f) The carnet is lost.
You then have to revert back to standard export and import procedures. The goods should be exported from the overseas country with a "Shipping Invoice" quoting the carnet number, a copy of this invoice must be stamped and endorsed by the export customs authority in the same way he would have stamped the carnet. On return to the UK the goods will have to be entered with payment of import duties/VAT on deposit (unless you have some other form of evidence to support the original export in which case enter them to RGR). A Certificate of Location can then be asked for from your local office, a copy of this, with an explanation letter, should be sent to the UK customs point from where the goods were originally exported. This customs office will have their copy of the carnet export voucher. Ask them to certify in writing that the goods were originally exported under that Carnet and on what date, this letter plus a copy of the carnet voucher should be sent to you. The stamped export shipping invoice, the Certificate of location and a copy of customs letter and export voucher should be sent to the issuing chamber to cancel your obligations under the ATA carnet regulations. To reclaim the import duty paid, a copy of the stamped export invoice, the original export voucher, the original of the customs letter and your request for repayment should be submitted to your local customs office.

g) An engineer wants to visit a country not already allowed by the carnet.
First check it is a carnet signatory country, if not revert to normal temporary import bond procedures. If it is a carnet country and you know well in advance, you may request from the issuing chamber an addition to the carnet countries. As long as the guarantee amount is sufficient or additional funds are paid and it is within the validity period of the carnet this is usually arranged, though additional vouchers will have to be couriered out to the engineer.

We would love to hear your comments or ATA Carnet experiences , please comment

First written as an article published 19th February 2011 by Sandra Strong MIEx (Grad) CITA, Managing Partner Strong & Herd LLP HERE

Friday, 6 May 2011

Who says we don't manufacture?

For all you sceptics out there – YES, the UK does manufacture and YES we do export. The UK is not just a theme park country with nothing but services and it’s official. The UK is the 6th largest manufacturing country in the world and the 10th largest exporter of merchandise goods. OK, so we are the 2nd largest exporter of commercial services in the world but that’s good too – isn’t it?

Recent newspaper reports show that, though our core exports may have taken a hammering in the past but, as the figure show, many small-scale products are thriving. Exports of toilet soaps, for example, was up 15% in 2009, pharmaceutical export up by 19% (to £19.5 billion) and in 2010 dairy exports alone were up by 24.6% on the previous year (up to £977 million).

It is said that UK firms gain an 34% uplift in productivity when they start exporting and there are certain free services to help – check out “Are you Ready to Export?” In 2010 UK’s top 5 export destinations are:
1. USA £37,561 million
2. Germany £28,390 million
3. Netherlands £20,514 million
4. France £20,137 million
5. Ireland £16,261 million

And we have some great oddities: UK exports tea to China and India, clocks to Switzerland, chocolates to Belgium, ice cream to Iceland, whisky to Ireland, sausages to Germany, pasta to Italy, cheese and wine to France and toys to China. Who said we don’t export – for a small country we are still hitting above our weight!

Related training:
Export Essentials
Letter of Credit Workshop for Exporters
EC Trade and Intrastat