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ATA Carnet = Passport for your Equipment & Gear


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"ATA Carnet" = "the merchandise passport for your gear / international customs document"


Headed over seas to document some important material? A big project means a big Bag, lots of bags. If you're doing this a lot, you might need a sherpa, and you might want to apply for "ATA Carnet" status. Its like a passport for your gear.


Like anything, there are some trade offs that you should consider before jumping in. Limitations like a one year time limit, fees per value of goods, etc.


But hey, on the flip side, one single document for your 'customs' experience might be nice. As well as a simplified and streamlined return into US customs doesn't sound bad either, or reducing costs by eliminating value-added taxes (VAT).


You decide.


ATA Carnet Export



PDF Brochure


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Just to add to Marlin's post...sometimes additional customs declarations will be required even if an ATA Carnet is in place. In Jordan, where we work, an additional advance declaration must be made to the Department of Antiquities for gear, especially gear being shipped separately.


Do Marlin and others have suggestions about sending equipment on separately by courier? We had a bad experience with FedEx but that may not be shared by others. Luggage restrictions on airlines have made it increasingly difficult to do international photographic work.

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We haven't run into the situation where a carnet was insufficient but we mostly work in Europe and North America. There is a list of countries that accept them, so good advice to check that out before travel.


We travel enough that we have star alliance gold status, which lets us check up to three 70 pound bags each (for 2 of us) at no charge. So we have been able to travel with the needed gear for training and imaging projects without a problem. However, if you don't have this kind of status it has become increasingly expensive to check extra bags, and bags between 50 and 70 pounds are also quite expensive. We did look into shipping ahead, but it didn't save any money (back before we had the free bag allowance) and seemed more of a hassle. I guess it is just something you have to plan for and build into your project budgets, annoying as that is. Sometimes we have been able to get our collaborators on the other end to supply equipment or find rental equipment.



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