ATA Carnet

The ATA carnet (Admission Temporaire - Temporary Admission) is an international customs document. It is used for the temporary importation, exportation 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 import, export and transit purposes. Its uniform appearance for all of the contracting parties to the Convention on temporary admission (known as the Istanbul Convention; in French, Italian or German only) 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 into Switzerland and bringing all or only some of the goods abroad again.

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. In Switzerland, for example, it is not permitted to use an ATA carnet for rental transactions. A customs declaration for temporary admission (CDTA) must be issued instead. This is the case for marquees that are rented abroad by a natural person or a legal entity domiciled in Switzerland and that are used for sports or commercial events, for instance.

Professional equipment

Professional equipment that can be imported temporarily under an ATA carnet is defined in Annexe 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 imported temporarily by a timekeeping company domiciled abroad that has been commissioned by a Swiss entity to time track and field events held in Switzerland.

  • The machinery and devices (welding machines and guns, devices for measuring oxygen and gas content, test leads, devices for measuring pressure) imported temporarily by a pipeline repair company domiciled abroad that has been commissioned by a town in Switzerland to check the state of its pipelines.

The ATA carnet is accepted by the Swiss customs authority if the installations, machinery and devices are used solely by the foreign company's employees.

If the installations, machinery and devices are rented by a Swiss company and used by its employees, the Swiss customs authority will only accept a customs declaration for temporary admission (CDTA) for the temporary importation of these installations, machinery and devices.

  • The technical installations (tents, generators, light fittings, engines, transformers, seating, etc.), caravans and animals imported temporarily into Switzerland by a foreign circus to perform shows there.

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 Annexe B.2 of the convention on temporary admission.

Nevertheless, this equipment and material can be imported temporarily using a customs declaration for temporary admission (CDTA).

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.

https://www.ezv.admin.ch/content/ezv/en/home/information-companies/declaring-goods/importation-into-switzerland/temporary-importation/ata-carnet.html