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Planning for Post-Brexit Business Travel: An ATA Carnet Perspective

Thursday, October 5, 2017

U.K. business travellers still remember the pre-E.U. ATA Carnet nightmares. Good news: ATA Carnets have changed for the better thanks to the Liverpool Chamber.

“Torment,” “root canal,” are the published recollections of business travel through Europe before the U.K. joined the E.U. The post-Brexit fear factor is in full swing. However, the fears are based on memories of European business travel and using an ATA Carnet at least 42 years ago!

We can throw out the old conceptions of getting and using an ATA Carnet. The reality is a 21st century document applied for online and issued and delivered within 48 hours.

For the benefit of those who entered the U.K. business world post 1975, the ATA Carnet is a temporary export document that allows professional equipment and commercial samples to enter another country, duty- and tax-free for up to a year. Before the formation of the European Union, an ATA Carnet was the preferred document for U.K. business travelers to pass through Europe with their high-value goods and equipment. Once the U.K. became part of the E.U., no temporary import documentation was required to travel throughout the E.U. with those commercial samples, professional equipment and goods for trade fairs and exhibitions.[1] The only exceptions were the non-E.U. European countries like Switzerland and Norway.

U.K. business people who used the ATA Carnet for European business trips recall the lengthy application process characterized by multiple trips to a Chamber of Commerce, numerous forms to complete and sign, cash deposits, weeks of waiting to get the approved document and long waits to get the carnet validated at each port of entry and exit. Here are some recent, unhappy recollections published in the U.K. press in 2016 and 2017:

 “Having endured both root canal work and completing a complex carnet form, given a choice I’d go for the dental treatment next time.”[2]

“At every customs point, I had to join a long queue to get my entry into the next country logged and my carnet endorsed. This was torment.”[3]

Fast forward to 2017 when technology has transformed the U.K. ATA Carnet experience to one of ease, speed and affordability (no membership dues are required to get the lowest price). ATA Carnets and the required guarantees can be applied for entirely online and the issued document can be printed in London or Liverpool for next day pickup or delivery by overnight mail. The Liverpool Chamber of Commerce and boomerang carnets U.K. pioneered this technology and service in the U.K. and are the only U.K. source for this level of automation and service.

Rapid-response customer service is standard when asking for a quote, calling with a question or setting up an online account.  No paper forms, no trips to the Chamber, no physical signatures, no long processing times are required. The new ATA Carnet processing has been used widely by U.K. (and U.S.) business travelers, especially by photographers, production and television companies for several years with much success.

Excerpted from videographer/photographer Tim Llewellyn’s blog is “The Best Place to Get a Carnet:”

“Every once in a while you come across customer service that is so remarkable that you just have to share the story...And I, for one, will never think of getting my carnets anywhere else in the future.”[4]

Tim’s experience was one of hundreds of hassle-free ATA Carnet applications that now characterize the 21st century ATA Carnet processing and use. Of course, having to use any temporary import documentation is less-desirable than none at all. But if Brexit will result in the renewed need for Britons to use ATA Carnets, at least it will be as streamlined and easy as possible.


[1] ATA Carnets allow these three categories of goods to be listed on the document’s General List.

[2] The Business of Travel: How Would a Brexit Affect UK Business Travellers,” Simon Calder, Independent, 20 June 2016,

[3] “The big issue: we voted for free trade in 1975, nothing less and nothing more,” The Guardian, 30 Sept 2017, Editorials,

[4] “The Best Place to Get a Carnet,” Tim Llewellyn, Llewellyn Creative,