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Brexit has changed the landscape of EU touring for UK artists. One of the questions we get asked the most is What is a Carnet and why do we need one? Hopefully this blog post can help answer some of your questions!

What is an ATA Carnet?

An ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet is a temporary international customs document that facilitates the temporary import and export of goods. Essentially they are a ‘Passport for Goods’ or the equipment you take on tour, enabling you to import and export them without paying import duty or VAT.

The carnet consists of a book of vouchers and counterfoils. It has a front and back cover, inside of which are counterfoils and vouchers for each country you will visit.

Once a carnet is issued it can be used for multiple trips within a one year time period from its issue date.

The vouchers act as receipts for importation and re-exportation and are kept by international customs officials. The counterfoils are stamped by these customs officials and are kept by the carnet holders.

Covering Pages

These contain the information about the goods, registered users of the carnet, and notes on the usage of the goods.

General list

A list of all goods (or pieces of equipment) covered with this carnet, with serial numbers and approximate values.

Counterfoils

These are used as evidence for the carnet holders in case duties and taxes are claimed at a later stage.

Vouchers

These are used as receipts, and are detached from the carnet and kept by customs officials.

Yellow, white and blue counterfoils and vouchers

  • Yellow certificate sets (counterfoils only) are the Registration of Goods that will return to the country of origin. A yellow certificate set includes an exportation counterfoil and a re-importation counterfoil.
  • White certificate sets (includes counterfoils and vouchers) are used by foreign customs. A white certificate set includes a white importation counterfoil, a white importation voucher, white re-exportation counterfoil and a white re-exportation voucher.
  • Blue certificate sets (includes counterfoils and vouchers) are used by foreign customs to track goods that are within their borders but have not cleared customs. These goods are in transit. A blue certificate set includes two blue transit counterfoils and two blue transit vouchers.

For a nice visual of the carnet, check the official ATA carnet website: https://www.atacarnet.com/carnet-document

After you have finished with the tour, the Carnet must be returned to the chamber of commerce by which it was issued.

Why does my band need a Carnet?

The ATA carnet is now the document most widely used by the business community for international operations involving temporary admission of goods. The ATA Carnet system is used in 78 countries and territories.

The main benefits of a carnet are:

  • Simplifies customs clearance of goods in exporting and importing countries by replacing customs documents that would normally be required;
  • Provides a financial security for customs charges potentially due on the goods that will be used in the countries visited;
  • Helps to overcome language barriers and having to complete unfamiliar customs forms

Without a carnet, you run the risk of being fined, having your equipment impounded, and paying import duties.

What does an ATA cover?

There are 38 categories of goods covered by ATA Carnets. The most common uses are:

  • Commercial samples
  • Professional equipment
  • Goods for trade fairs or exhibitions

In short, guitars, audio and lighting equipment, electronics, wardrobe, set design, trailers, and anything else non perishable involved in the tour would fall into these categories.

ATA Carnets do not cover good to be hired out or sold for commercial gain, perishable or consumable items, or goods for processing or repair.

How do I get a carnet?

We use Rock-It Global for our carnet applications. To apply you will need a list of all of your equipment you will be taking on tour, and the value and serial numbers associated with each piece of equipment.

The price of a carnet is around £400 + VAT. Note that a carnet can be used for multiple trips during a 12 month period.

It’s my first time using a Carnet! What do I do?

See our post CROSSING INTO THE EU FROM THE UK for a case study on a recent tour with UK Psych Rock band Los Bitchos.

First up, armed with carnet in hand, you’ll want to visit the customs office of the country where you received the Carnet (the UK for us at Chuckwalla Touring!) before you depart. This could be an inland border facility in the UK if travelling by bus or van, or a customs office inside your departure airport if travelling by air.

The customs official will fill out a yellow counterfoil for exportation out of the UK.

In the goods section of the Yellow counterfoil, specify what pieces of equipment you are carrying with you on this trip. You don’t have to carry everything on your general list of goods each, just mark what you are carrying (eg. If you have 100 items on your general list, but are only carrying the first 20 mark 1-20).

When you arrive in your destination country, you will hand the carnet to a customs official. They will fill in a white voucher and counterfoil for importation into the destination country.

When departing to another country, customs in the country of departure will fill out a white re-exportation voucher and counterfoil, and in the country of arrival customs will fill in a white importation counterfoil and voucher.

If arriving back to the UK, customs will fill out a yellow re-importation counterfoil.

What happens if my Carnet is lost or stolen?

You should obtain written confirmation that says the customs authority where the Carnet was lost or stolen will accept a replacement carnet. Contact the chamber who issued your Carnet, who can then send a replacement Carnet on request.

Any questions, please leave us a comment or contact us by email / DM on IG, we’d be happy to help!

Recently we went on tour with Los Bitchos, a London based psych rock band to Europe. This was our first trip to Europe post Brexit and there were some important changes to the UK / EU border crossing.

For this blog post we are describing the steps to make a Eurotunnel crossing from the UK to France and back, using the passenger service, travelling in a 9 seat splitter van (thanks Ricky from Blacklight Tours!).

To make this crossing you will need an ATA Carnet. An ATA Carnet is a customs document that facilitates the temporary export of goods overseas, and is valid for up to one year. Inside this carnet will be a list of all of the equipment you are transporting.

For more information about carnets, view our post ATA Carnet FAQ’s.

Also, pack a Hi Vis! Wearing a Hi Vis is mandatory at the UK Inland Border Facilities (IBF) so make sure to pack at least one in your tour kit. The wait times can be long, so best to pack a few extra if the band want to make toilet trips while you wait.

Exportation from the UK:

Sevington Inland Border Facility: https://goo.gl/maps/8rF2vqhMYzWhxNZZ8

To open your carnet, you’ll need to visit an inland border facility inside the UK.

On this trip we used the Sevington Inland Border Facility (IBF) located in Ashford, 20 minutes drive from the Eurotunnel entrance coming from London. To speed up the process you can book an appointment 3 days in advance here. This can help if the IBF is busy on the day you intend to travel. You can check how busy an IBF here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-there-are-any-delays-at-an-inland-border-facility

We arrived in a 9 seat splitter van and were ushered to the back side of the building, where the officials made a parking space available to us.

Take your carnet and a form of ID (passport for example) to the outbound (export) office. There are officials around that you can ask for directions if you are unsure of where to go.

If its your first time using the carnet, you’ll need to sign the Green front page and fill out a Yellow exportation voucher. If in doubt, ask the officer you are dealing with for assistance.

At the export desk you will fill in a short form with your vehicle registration, allocated parking spot number and phone number. The customs official will keep your paperwork and hand you a receipt. Head back to your vehicle and wait for a text.

About an hour later we received a text to collect our paperwork. Head in to collect the carnet (remember to bring your slip!) and drive to the Eurotunnel.

This process took about an hour in total. Note: Our equipment was not inspected, this could add significant delays so plan accordingly!

Importation in to the EU from the UK:

Aduanas Calais / Douane: https://maps.app.goo.gl/CrCX2ji9hJ8tVSce9 (Be aware, this office is closed on some public holidays!)

When you arrive in France, exit the Eurotunnel and follow the orange signs to French Customs (SIVEP / Douane). You can also use the above google maps link to make life easier, as the orange signs can be hard to spot!

Drive up to the gate and ring the buzzer. Say you have arrived from the UK and are carrying a Carnet, they will open the gate. Drive around the back to the truck park and then walk to the office with your Carnet and ID.

Fill out the carnet and sign it, then hand it to an official. They will give you a ticket and call you over when the process is complete.

This process took about 30 minutes.

Re-exportation and re-importation from EU to UK

France:

Calais Eurotunnel terminal: https://goo.gl/maps/pFucj2NPuXPzsz5e8

On the way back, the carnet can be stamped at the euro tunnnel passenger terminal in Calais.

Head to the Eurotunnel check in. After checking in, stay right and enter the tourist terminal (not the border control!). Park up and walk to the terminal. There is a small customs window in between WH Smith and the Toilets. Hand them your ID and the Carnet. The will process the white re-exportation voucher.

UK:

Stop 24: https://goo.gl/maps/fcQWj1tN7RG1YCBK7

On this trip I used the customs facilities at Stop 24 to stamp the carnet. To save time you can book an appointment here. 

Enter Stop 24. Go to the customs desk (see photo) and hand them your carnet and ID. They’ll text you when the paperwork is ready to pickup. This process took about an hour. Our good were not inspected.

Other notes

It is important to carry a Carnet, I wouldn’t risk a trip without one. We were pulled up twice by customs officers within the European union and asked to present our Carnet. I think there is a heightened awareness of customs officials when they see a band travelling in a UK van.

Summary

That’s it! To summarise, the process is not complex but can be time consuming. I would factor in an extra 2 hours on your trip from UK – EU for traffic and carnet processing, and 90 minutes on your trip from the UK to the EU.

If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment or reach out to us by email or IG. We’d be happy to help!

While we mostly hire splitter vans in London (as we’re based there!), occasionally we will hire in Europe for a fly date or one off show. Here are some options for splitter van hire in Europe.

If you’re travelling to Europe and need a carnet, make sure to check out our Carnet FAQ’s!

This is accurate as of 30th of May 2022. We updated this when we can!

Netherlands

Dax Vans (Nijmegen)

Dax Vans have 7 and 9 seat MWB and LWB VW Crafters and Mercedes Sprinter splitter van hire available for €100 – €120 / day + VAT.

Pieter Smit (Amsterdam)

Pieter Smit have splitter vans of all sizes, rehearsal studios, nightliners and trucks available.

A luxury splitter is € 145,- per day, € 790,- per week and; € 2465,- per month. (200km free per day and after that; € 0,2 per km) Ex fuel and vat when needed.

Germany

Tourbo Drive (Hamburg / Bremen)

Tourbo Drive have a range of 9 seat MWB Splitter vans available, and also rent backline. Vans are €105 / day, trailers €25 / day.

France

Alternative Loc (Paris)

Alternative Loc have a range of 9, 7, and 6 seater LWB and MWB Vans for hire. A bit expensive compared to UK options with caps on miles / day, but are lovely vans and very nice folks to deal with. Alternative loc also do backline and cover endorsements for many major brands.

Belgium

Tour Support (Gent)

Tour support rent a range of splitter vans with tow hitches, and trailers. They also do backline and cover endorsements for major brands.

If you have any other recommendations of companies to hire splitter vans from in Europe, please drop a comment below! We’d love to hear from you.