The ATA carnet (Admission Temporaire - Temporary Admission) is an international customs document. It is used for the temporary exportation, importation and transit of goods and facilitates the completion of customs formalities in Switzerland and abroad. Unlike the temporary admission (ZAVV) procedure, no security has to be provided when crossing the border with the ATA carnet.
Use and validity
The ATA carnet can be used for multiple border crossings and is valid for one year. Its main advantage is swift tax assessment at the border. The ATA carnet can be used instead of national customs documents for all export, import and transit purposes. Its uniform appearance for all of the contracting parties to the Convention on temporary admission (known as the Istanbul Convention) facilitates its use. The ATA carnet is used in over 60 countries.
When filling out the ATA carnet, it is essential to provide a clear description of the goods as well as their value and weight on the back page of the cover. ATA carnet holders have the option of bringing all or only some of the goods abroad and bringing all or only some of the goods back into Switzerland.
The ATA carnet can be used for durables (e.g. trade fair stands), but not for consumable items (e.g. beverages and brochures for trade fair stands). The ATA carnet is used essentially in the following areas:
- goods for exhibitions and trade fairs;
- professional equipment;
- commercial samples for display/ordering purposes (watches, jewellery, clothing, footwear, etc.).
However, these application areas may be interpreted differently by the individual contracting countries. If in doubt, it is advisable to contact the foreign customs authorities directly.
Professional equipment that can be exported temporarily under an ATA carnet is defined in Annex B.2 of the convention on temporary admission. In principle, this includes everything that is used for the pursuit of a profession. Examples include:
- An installation made up of various time-recording devices exported temporarily by a timekeeping company domiciled in Switzerland that has been commissioned by an entity abroad to time track and field events held abroad (World Athletics Championships, Olympic Games, etc.).
- The machinery and devices (welding machines and guns, devices for measuring oxygen content and gas content, test leads, devices for measuring pressure) exported temporarily by a pipeline repair company domiciled in Switzerland that has been commissioned by a town abroad to check the state of its pipelines.
The ATA carnet is accepted by the foreign customs authority if the installations, machinery and devices are used solely by the Swiss company's employees.
If the installations, machinery and devices are rented to a foreign company and used by its employees, the foreign customs authority must be consulted to ascertain what customs documents for temporary importation are required. For the temporary exportation of these installations, machinery and devices and their re-importation into Switzerland, a customs declaration for temporary admission (CDTA) must be submitted.
- The technical installations (tents, generators, light fittings, engines, transformers, seating, etc.), caravans and animals temporarily exported by a Swiss circus to perform shows abroad.
However, devices and machinery used for industrial manufacturing (machinery for making jams or electronic components, etc.), the packaging of goods (automated machinery for packaging foodstuffs, bottling beverages, etc.), the exploitation of natural resources (drilling rigs for locating water and petrol in the ground, etc.) and for the construction, repair or maintenance of buildings or for excavation work (machinery and devices used in civil engineering, compressors, steam rollers, etc.) are not considered professional equipment as defined in Annex B. 2 of the convention on temporary admission.
Nevertheless, this equipment and material can be exported temporarily using a customs declaration for temporary admission (CDTA). To do so, the foreign customs authority must be consulted directly to ascertain what customs documents for temporary importation are required.
Where to obtain an ATA carnet
ATA carnets can be obtained from Chambers of commerce and industry. Security for the applicable import duties must be provided to the issuing body.
In Switzerland, Chambers of commerce and industry provide information on the conditions for obtaining an ATA carnet; please see www.cci.ch.
New as of 01.01.2015:
Validating Swiss ATA carnets
Once you have obtained your ATA carnet, you must have it validated in a Swiss customs office in Switzerland or at the border competent for the clearance of commercial goods before being able to leave Switzerland with the goods covered by the carnet.
If you have the ATA carnet validated in a customs office in Switzerland competent for the clearance of commercial goods, you do not need to present the goods covered by this carnet unless you expressly wish to do so.
If you have your ATA carnet validated in a border customs office competent for the clearance of commercial goods, you must present the goods covered by this carnet, except if you are not leaving Switzerland immediately with the aforementioned goods.
When you have your ATA carnet validated in a border customs office competent for the clearance of commercial goods and you are leaving Switzerland immediately thereafter, you do not need to present all of the goods covered by this carnet if only part of these goods are being exported.
In any case, you can only have your ATA carnet validated during the opening hours of the customs offices. You will find the opening hours here: www.ezv.admin.ch/content/ezv/en/home/die-ezv/organisation/grenzuebergaenge--zollstellen--oeffnungszeiten.
Temporary exportation of goods covered by an ATA carnet which has already been validated
You can also leave Switzerland outside normal border customs office opening hours, including Saturdays and Sundays, provided that the border customs office is manned. If in doubt, please contact the customs office concerned directly (see also www.ezv.admin.ch/content/ezv/en/home/die-ezv/organisation/grenzuebergaenge--zollstellen--oeffnungszeiten).