ATA Carnet is an international customs document that permits duty-free and tax-free temporary import of goods for up to one year and serves as a guarantee to customs duties and taxes.
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ATA Carnet operation is a prime example of how close cooperation between chambers and customs can facilitate and stimulate international trade.
Thanks to a partnership between customs authorities and their appointed ATA Carnet’s national guaranteeing associations (NGAs) and a unique guaranteeing mechanism among NGAs, ATA Carnets are accepted in approximately 80 countries/customs territories as a duty – and tax-free temporary admission paper. NGAs are usually chambers of commerce or similar business associations.
ATA Carnet international guaranteeing chain (the ATA Chain)
What is the ATA Chain?
The ATA Chain is a guaranteeing mechanism administered by the ICC World Chambers Federation (WCF) to which all NGAs, including their issuing network, appointed by customs authorities are affiliated for the operation of the Customs Convention on ATA Carnets for the temporary admission of goods (ATA Convention, entered into force on 30 July 1963) and / or the Convention on Temporary Admission (Istanbul Convention, entered into force on 27 November 1993).
WCF, through its World ATA Carnet Council (WATAC), has been the ICC body resonsible for the administration of the ATA Chain since 1963. Today we are also leading the digitalisation of ATA Carnets.
Why is the ATA Chain needed?
The ATA Chain secures the payment and reimbursement among NGAs for the import duties and taxes in the event of non-compliance.
The ATA/Istanbul Convention only specifies the payment obligation of the NGA in the country of temporary admission/transit towards its customs authority but does not specify the relationship among NGAs. This void is regulated by the instruments governing the operation of the ATA Chain. Within the rules of the ATA Chain, the NGA in the country of temporary admission/transit can get a reimbursement from the NGA in the country of issue, and NGAs commit to collaborate in claims management.
In every country/customs territory, the operation of the ATA Carnet procedure can only get underway once the appointed NGA joins the ATA chain.
What are the responsibilities of NGAs?
NGAs are the trusted partners of customs (domestic and foreign), other NGAs, the ICC WCF Secretariat, and their respective import/export business communities.
Each NGA is appointed by its national customs authority to administer the ATA operation, in collaboration with national customs, on a day-to-day basis.
As the name would imply, the NGA acts as guarantor in relation to its customs authority for the payment of import duties and taxes chargeable in the event of non-compliance with the conditions of temporary admission or transit for goods admitted into its country/customs territory under cover of an ATA Carnet. This obligation is established under the ATA/Istanbul Convention. NGA liability is up to 110% of the amount of the import duties and taxes.
In addition, each NGA acts as guarantor in relation to foreign NGAs for the payment of import duties and taxes payable in foreign countries on ATA Carnets issued under its authority. This obligation is established under the Protocol on the organisation of an international customs deposits in respect of ATA Carnets that all NGAs accepted before they were accepted into the ATA chain. It establishes that the NGA in the country of temporary admission or transit can get a reimbursement from the NGA in the country of issue after the payment of import duties and taxes is made.
NGAs work together with their customs administration and other NGAs for claims management. Without the guaranteeing chain, the ATA Carnet procedure cannot be implemented.
Each country/customs territory has one single NGA. With the approval of customs and under its responsibility and guarantee, an NGA may choose to issue ATA Carnets and/or delegate such privilege to other associations.
What are the benefits of being an NGA in the ATA Chain?
- Ability to offer a proven product to help the local business community, fostering economic development and trade.
- Opportunity to partner with governmental departments, especially customs.
- Potential contribution to and diversification of an NGA’s revenue stream.
- Boosting of the NGA’s visibility in serving international business, both locally and internationally.
- Offer of a complementary product to other document services provided by NGAs.
- Connections and networks with other like-minded leading international trade associations and participation in a prestigious six-decade old global network.
- Putting the NGA in a position where it can play an important role in helping the local economy by diversifying it and making it more dynamic.
How to join the ATA Chain?
The WCF General Council, upon the recommendation of WATAC, approves the affiliation of an NGA with the ATA Chain. Only one NGA per country/customs territory is accepted.
To join the ATA Chain, the NGA will have to meet a series of conditions which are described below.
- Send to the ICC WCF Secretariat a copy of the letter from the customs authorities approving the organisation, together with an official translation in English or French.
- Send to ICC WCF Secretariat a duly signed copy of the ATA Protocol and Statement on the operation of the ATA System to confirm its acceptance of the administrative and financial obligation.
- Provide ICC WCF Secretariat with a Guarantee Act to confirm its capacity to fully assume the financial obligations incumbent upon the guarantors of the duties and taxes connected with the goods covered by ATA Carnets.
- Supply ICC WCF Secretariat with the necessary information on the rules laid down by the national customs authorities concerning those points which the ATA/Istanbul Convention leaves to the sovereign decision of each Contracting Party.
- Send to ICC WCF Secretariat a letter from your government’s foreign exchange control authorities empowering it to receive/remit all sums connected with the operation of the ATA scheme if such control exists.
- Print ATA Carnets in accordance with the model approved by the ATA/Istanbul Convention Administrative Committee. All carnets issued should also be digitally recorded in ICC’s ATA Carnet System.
- Set up an ATA Carnet unit responsible for the operation and management of the ATA activities and ensure the appropriate training of the staff in charge of this unit.
- Moreover, the NGA will have to be a member of the ICC WCF.
World ATA Carnet Council (WATAC)
WATAC is a Specialised Council managed by ICC. The day-to-day operation of WATAC is undertaken by the WCF Secretariat.
WATAC is the forum that brings together all NGAs of the ATA Chain to promote the use of the ATA Carnet to facilitate international trade and to ensure the integrity and sustainability of the ATA Chain. It supports ICC in the:
- operation, management and expansion of the ATA Chain, and
- promotion of best practices and ensuring that NGAs, together with the IAs under the NGA umbrella, comply with their responsibilities in relation to the ATA Carnet Guaranteeing activities and ATA Carnet Issuing activities.
The role of WATAC is to:
- engage with international, regional and national governments and agencies, through ICC structures, to explain and support the role of issuing and guaranteeing associations;
- recommend to WCF General Council the long-term strategy of ATA Carnet and the annual programme of action (within the overall framework of the WCF programme of action);
- ensure that the members of WATAC provide ATA Carnet issuing statistics and claims statistics to assist ICC in the preparation of global reports;
- recommend to the WCF General Council the affiliation or the suspension of an individual member of the ATA Chain;
- examine questions of interest relevant to NGAs, IAs and carnet users;
- review mechanisms established for the operation of the ATA Chain and submit proposals for approval by the WCF Executive Committee in relation to those mechanisms to ensure ongoing relevance;
- elect the chair of WATAC and the vice Chair;
- select members of the ATA Carnet Administrative Committee (ATAC) which is the executive body of WATAC;
- establish and dissolve sub-working groups, and define their terms of reference (as necessary), to assist with the activities of WATAC subject to the approval of the WCF Secretariat.
WATAC leadership 2023-2025
- Chair: Mr. Henk Wit from the Netherlands Chamber of Commerce (KVK)
- Vice Chair: Mr. Declan Daly from United States Council for International Business (USCIB)
The leadership of WATAC is also the leadership of ATAC.
ATA Carnet Administrative Committee (ATAC)
ATAC is the executive body of WATAC. It is comprised of WATAC Chair, Vice Chair, and 12 selected WATAC members:
- Austrian Federal Economic Chamber
- Fédération des Chambres de Commerce belges (Belgian Chambers)
- China Chamber of International Commerce (CCOIC)
- Alliance of Swiss Chambers of Commerce
- Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie de région Paris Ile-de-FranceFrance
- Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce
- Oslo Chamber of Commerce and Industry
- Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia
- South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry
- London Chamber of Commerce and Industry
- United States Council for International Business
- To be selected
WATAC Sub Working Bodies and members
eATA Project Team
Christophe Coulie (Belgian Chambers), Ruedi Bolliger (Alliance of Swiss Chambers of Commerce); Henk Wit (Netherlands Chamber of Commerce), Declan Daly (United States Council for International Business), Davor Antonic-McKinley (London Chamber of Commerce and Industry ), Herve Sanglard (UDITIS) and the Secretariat.
WATAC Chairmanship (lead), Herbert Herzig (Austrian Federal Economic Chamber), Christophe Coulie (Belgian Chambers), Luc Dardaud (Chambre de Commerce et d’Industrie de région Paris Ile-de-FranceFrance), Alessandra Procesi (Unione Italiana delle Camere di Commercio Industria Artigianato e Agricoltura), Davor Antonic-McKinley (London Chamber of Commerce and Industry ), and the Secretariat.
Finance Review Team
Rune Rolfsen (Oslo Chamber of Commerce), Declan Daly (United States Council for International Business), Jesper Juul-Jensen (Danish Chamber of Commerce)