Global Economy

ATA Carnets as a game-changer for Paris 2024

With just a few weeks to go until the 2024 Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games, thousands of athletes, media representatives, sponsors, exhibitors, delegations and more are gearing up for their journey to France this summer. What is the best way to clear customs for equipment and goods- for use during the Games? The answer is the ATA Carnet, a vital tool that has widely been used by companies and individuals since 1963.

The ATA Carnet is an international customs document that permits duty-free and tax-free temporary import of goods for up to one year. It streamlines the customs process by unifying declaration forms and eliminating bond/deposit for Customs duties and taxes at each border. Its efficiency was highlighted during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, when over 118,000 pieces of equipment valued at US$94 million were imported using ATA Carnets.

The initials ‘ATA’ are an acronym of the French and English words Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission. The entire ATA Carnet system is managed by the International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) World Chambers Federation (WCF) in partnership with the World Customs Organization (WCO), ensuring smooth operations and expanding the ATA Carnet’s reach globally. ATA Carnets are currently available in over 80 countries with the Philippines set to become the 81st member of the guaranteeing chain in July this year.

In a nutshell, the ATA Carnet enables countries, businesses and border agencies to expedite the customs process by utilising unified, ready-to-use declaration forms and eliminating the lodging of a guarantee, bond or cash deposit in the country of temporary importation. It can also be used for temporary export and may be issued for multiple destinations and trips throughout its one-year validity so that goods can pass through customs around the world with advanced customs arrangements at predetermined costs.

Thanks to these merits, the ATA Carnet has been used to facilitate seamless and cost-effective clearance of Olympic materials since its inception in 1963. Now, as thousands of athletes, media representatives, exhibitors and others prepare their journeys to France for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the ATA Carnet is enabling the duty- and tax-free temporary import of a wide range of equipment and items to keep trade and the 2024 games moving.

Covering almost any type of items – from sports gear for athletes, to professional equipment for broadcasters – the ATA Carnet works like a passport for goods, allowing smooth customs clearance without the need for a guarantee, bond, or cash deposit. Applications for ATA Carnets are lodged in the export country, with a directory available on the ICC website.

Under the ATA Carnet procedure, duties and taxes temporarily exempted are guaranteed by National Guaranteeing Associations (NGAs) appointed by customs authorities, and affiliated to the ATA Carnet international guaranteeing chain, a risk management mechanism administered by ICC through its special working body, the World ATA Carnet Council (WATAC) of the WCF. The Chain is used to ensure reimbursement of customs duties and taxes by the NGA in the country of issue to the NGA in the country of temporary admission who has made prior payment to its Customs.

At the international level, the management and promotion of ATA Carnet procedure and the guaranteeing chain are ensured by ICC in close collaboration with the WCO.

ICC’s objectives regarding the management and promotion of the ATA Carnet scheme can be summarised as follows: ensuring, in collaboration with the WCO, the smooth and safe functioning of the ATA Carnet scheme by providing legal and practical assistance, as well as advice, to the NGAs (members of the international guaranteeing chain) responsible for its daily operations in their respective countries and customs territories.

The ATA Carnet works like a passport for goods, allowing smooth customs clearance without the need for a guarantee, bond, or cash deposit

ICC also considers legal and practical problems related to the application and interpretation of the ATA and/or Istanbul Convention, proposing the adoption of opinions and comments by the WCO to ensure uniformity in the daily application of the ATA scheme, thereby offering useful guidance to customs administrations, issuing and guaranteeing associations, and ATA Carnet users.

Additionally, ICC promotes the expansion of the ATA Carnet in other countries in conjunction with the WCO, ATA experts from NGAs, chambers of commerce, ICC national committees, and other business organizations. Consultations, when appropriate, are also held with the European Commission (TAXUD) to facilitate the application of new European Commission rules governing the operation of the ATA Carnet scheme within the European Union.

To drive the expansion of the ATA Carnet worldwide, ICC cooperates with the WCO to hold regional seminars to familiarise chamber of commerce executives, staff, and customs authorities with the Carnet’s benefits and operations.

The ATA Carnet continues to be a trade tool frontrunner, with a global transition underway to digitise the ATA Carnet process. The creation of an electronic ATA Carnet (eATA) solution was first piloted in 2019.

Following continued enhancement from 2019 to 2023, the pilot version of the digital ATA Carnet System was upgraded to production standard in July 2023. The upgrade marked a shift from the eATA project pilot phase to the global transition preparation phase, during which stakeholders can start preparing the official acceptance of digital ATA Carnet via the ATA Carnet System, as deployed by ICC. The global transition kick-off is scheduled to start in 2025 and the ATA Carnet procedure is expected to go fully digital by 2027.

At 60 years old the ATA Carnet continues to go from strength to strength to serving business communities worldwide and adapting to the digital era. More information about the ATA Carnet and a directory for contacting guaranteeing associations can be found on the ICC Website.