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Customs Streamlines ATA Carnet Validation

Mar 17, 2012

A CBP Muster Topic issued in October 2011 (Office of Field Operations) improves a tricky process that U.S. ATA Carnet users and customs officers have wrestled with for years. It is now permitted to have a carnet validated at any port of exit as long as the goods will be out of the user's control after departing from that port.

Typically, a U.S. carnet user was expected to get the carnet validated and produce the goods for inspection at the last port of exit from the U.S. regardless of whether the goods were accessible or not. For instance, when departing from Dallas to travel to London, if the traveller had a stop at JFK, even though the goods were inaccessible because they were checked through to Heathrow, the user was expected to get the carnet validated at JFK. Needless to say, the user was between a rock and a hard place when the Dallas officer couldn't validate the carnet and neither could the JFK officer.

While CBP Directive 3280-013B does not state that a carnet can only be validated at the last port of exit, that has been the interpretation at many ports. CBP Muster Topic #CCS-FY12-0031 clarifies the Directive and makes it clear that the last port of exit can also be the last port where the user will have control of the goods. As long as the goods are in a secure supply chain where the user cannot get access to them, the last port of exit can be the port where the user is separated from the goods until both arrive in a foreign country. According to the U.S. national guaranteeing association for ATA Carnets, this muster applies to both hand-carried goods and shipped cargo.